UCLA: Iuta Tepa

UCLA preseason preview: Defensive line

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
2:30
PM PT
With UCLA training camp set to begin Saturday at Cal State San Bernardino, we're taking a preseason look at the roster and breaking down the Bruins position by position.

We went through the offense first, looking at the quarterbacks, offensive line, receivers and running backs. Special teams came next, and then we started on the defense with the defensive backs and then the linebackers. The final group to get the breakdown treatment in the defensive line.

DEPTH CHART AT THE END OF SPRING PRACTICE:
Left Defensive End
Datone Jones (6-4, 275, Sr.) OR
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6-3, 270, Jr.)
Sam Tai (6-2, 275, Fr.)

Nose Tackle
Brandon Willis (6-2, 280, So.)
Donovan Carter (6-1, 305, Sr.)
Seali’i Epenesa (6-1, 310, Jr.)
Kevin McReynolds (6-2, 300, Fr.)
Brandon Tuliaupupu (6-1, 315, Fr.)

Right Defensive End
Cassius Marsh (6-3, 275, Jr.) OR
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6-3, 270, Jr.)
Iuta Tepa (6-2, 255, Jr.)
Wesley Flowers (6-5, 254, So.)

PROJECTED OPENING-DAY DEPTH CHART:
Left Defensive End
Datone Jones (6-4, 275, Sr.)
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6-3, 270, Jr.)
Sam Tai (6-2, 275, Fr.)

Nose Tackle
Brandon Willis (6-2, 280, So.)
Donovan Carter (6-1, 305, Sr.)
Seali’i Epenesa (6-1, 310, Jr.)
Kevin McReynolds (6-2, 300, Fr.)
Brandon Tuliaupupu (6-1, 315, Fr.)

Right Defensive End
Cassius Marsh (6-3, 275, Jr.)
Ellis McCarthy (6-5, 330, Fr.)
Iuta Tepa (6-2, 255, Jr.)

KEY LOSSES:
Nate Chandler, started five games and appeared in 14; Graduated.
Justin Edison, started 12 games at tackle; Graduated.
Damien Holmes, 14-games starter at defensive end; switched to linebacker.
Keenean Graham, key reserve at defensive end; switched to linebacker.

(Read full post)

UCLA safety Dietrich Riley is listed as questionable for Saturday's game against Arizona State after getting carted off the field an hospitalized over the weekend following a scary collision against California.

Riley was back with the team for meetings and film sessions Sunday and coach Rick Neuheisel said he "looked absolutely fine."

The complete injury report:

David Allen, LB (knee), Questionable

Richard Brehaut, QB (ankle), Out

Tony Dye, S (neck), Out

Jared Koster, LB (neck), Out

Jeff Locke, P (shoulder), Probable

Alex Mascarenas, S (head), Out

Dietrich Riley, S (neck), Questionable

Kip Smith, K (leg), Out

Iuta Tepa, DL (back), Questionable

Chris Ward, OL, (knee), Questionable

Out – player definitely will not play

Doubtful – at least 75% chance player will not play

Questionable – 50-50 chance player will not play

Probable – virtual certainty player will be available for the game

UCLA practice report: Tuesday quick hits

September, 20, 2011
9/20/11
8:52
PM PT
UCLA returned to the practice field for the first time since Saturday's 49-20 loss to Texas and began preparation fo their Pac-12 opener this weekend at Oregon State.

"It’s always cathartic to be back on the practice field after you’ve suffered a disappointment," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Obviously we want to do better. We have zero quit on this team. We're going to fight, we're going to come back and we're going to play a whale of a game on Saturday."

A few tidbits:
  • Richard Brehaut took the first-team reps at quarterback and for the first time this season, did not split them with Kevin Prince.
  • Offensive lineman Sean Sheller, who broke his arm against Texas, had surgery to repair the break Tuesday and Neuheisel said he was probably out for the season. "It was a little more complicated than we had hoped. We hope he can get him back and we’ll remain optimistic, but it’ll be close."
  • Kicker Kip Smith did not practice as he continues to nurse a hip-flexor issue. Jeff Locke, who made field goals of 51 and 49 yards against Texas, took most of the field-goal reps. He made three of four during a drill at the start of practice, but missed a 45-yard attempt to close the two-minute drill. Neuheisel said Smith's availability for Saturday would be "a game-time decision."
  • The maligned UCLA defense showed a sign of solidarity when, after Iuta Tepa intercepted a pass during team drills, they all chased after him and cheered around him in celebration. "We loved him up," defensive end Datone Jones said.
  • Cornerback Andrew Abbott, who suffered a concussion and needed a CT scan Saturday, did not dress for practice and his status is still uncertain as he will have to go through the school's concussion protocol when he returns.
  • Defensive back Jamie Graham, out since the first week of training camp after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus, was expected to return Tuesday but has been pushed back two weeks.
  • Safety Tony Dye sat out with what Neuheisel termed "stingers." Tevin McDonald moved into the free safety spot on the first team defense with Dietrich Riley getting first-team reps at strong safety.
  • Tight end Raymond Nelson missed practice to attend to a family matter.

UCLA Depth chart review: Defensive line

August, 5, 2011
8/05/11
3:58
PM PT
With UCLA preparing to open fall camp on August 8, we will break down the depth charts at each position in order to look at how the Bruins stack up heading into this season. We started with quarterbacks and now switch to the defensive line.

Current depth charts:

LEFT END

Datone Jones (Jr., 6-5, 275)

Owamagbe Odighizuwa (So., 6-4, 266)

Iuta Tepa (So., 6-3, 260)

TACKLE

Cassius Marsh (So., 6-3, 289)

Nate Chandler (Sr., 6-4, 292)

Sam Tai (Fr., 6-4, 251)

TACKLE

Justin Edison (Sr., 6-4, 285)

Donovan Carter (Jr., 6-2, 295)

Seali’i Epenesa (So., 6-2, 308)

RIGHT END

Damien Holmes (Jr., 6-3, 270)

Keenan Graham (So., 6-3, 255)

Wesley Flowers (Fr., 6-5, 254)

Derrick Bryant (Fr., 6-3, 251)

This unit is the biggest source of hope for Bruins fans.

A year ago, youth and inexperience led to a defensive line that proved porous against the run and rarely scared quarterbacks with pressure. Now, there are five sophomores in the three-deep who all got significant game experience last year and come into the season well-seasoned and ready to make this unit a strength of the team.

But as exciting as it will be to see Cassius Marsh, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Seali’i Epenesa, Iuta Tepa and Keenan Graham grow as players, the biggest cause for optimism lies in the return of Datone Jones.

Jones, a 13-game starter as a sophomore in 2009, sat out last season after breaking his foot in fall camp. He had four sacks and 11 tackles for a loss two years ago -- totals that would have led the Bruins last season -- and will prove to be quite a handful for opposing offensive linemen.

If opponents spend too much time worrying about Jones, however, this deep and talented unit will make them pay. Odighizuwa, for instance, had four sacks and 10 tackles for a loss last season despite not having a full-time job. Look for him to get significant minutes this season as the top reserve at both ends and don't be surprised to see him steal a starting role at some point.

Holmes made significant strides in spring practice and emerged at the top of the depth chart because of his improved play. While not as athletic as some of the other ends, he's a steady, smart high-motor guy who gets the job done. Graham and Tepa each showed last season that they can make an impact, so look for them to offer valuable minutes off the bench.

In the middle, Marsh has the perfect combination of size, quickness and toughness to be a major disruptive force. He's a major talent who should break though this season as long as he can keep his head on his shoulders. He has a tendency to lose his cool, but should help fill the void left by David Carter, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.

Nate Chandler is probably the most athletic interior lineman on the team. He's still grasping the nuances of the role after bouncing around from position to position his first three years, but as the season goes on he should snag a starting job. Justin Edison and Donovan Carter bring tons of experience to the front and, while not flashy, they are rock solid performers. Epenesa is the big, strong, hole-clogging body that will serve well against teams trying to run up the middle.

The biggest reason for optimism among the defensive line is its depth. Any player in the two deep could be a starter by the time the season rolls around and there isn't much dropoff three deep at most of the positions. With so many interchangeable parts, defensive coordinator Joe Tresey and defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield have the luxury of liberal substitutions to keep players fresh for a front line will cause problems for offenses.

That wasn't the case last season when Red Sea-sized holes up front caused UCLA to finish 108th in the nation in rushing defense by giving up 205.5 yards rushing a game, but all signs point to the defensive line being a vastly improved unit this season.

Iuta Tepa and Jared Koster to have surgery

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
6:10
PM PT
UCLA defensive end Iuta Tepa and linebacker Jared Koster will both require surgery and miss an undetermined amount of time after suffering injuries Saturday night in the Bruins' 31-13 victory over Houston, coach Rick Neuheisel said.

Tepa, No. 2 on the depth chart at left end, has a torn pectoral muscle that needs to be surgically repaired. Koster, a reserve linebacker who plays mostly on special teams, dislocated his shoulder on the opening kickoff.

In other injury news: Starting linebacker Sean Westgate left the Houston game because 0f a sore back but is not expected to miss time. Offensive tackle Micah Kia, who tweaked his ankle in practice last week, did not play against Houston, though Neuheisel said he could have played if needed.

Mike Harris, a 13-game starter last year who was relegated to backup after serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules, started in Kia's place and had a good game. Neuheisel said Kia would probably get his starting position back, but that he expects competition this week in practice.

"It wouldn't be unreasonable to have both players play," Neuheisel said.

Bruins to go deeper into defensive rotation

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
7:10
PM PT
Despite the issues among the defensive front seven in UCLA's 31-22 loss to Kansas State, the UCLA depth chart for the Stanford game is not getting any major overhaul. Coach Rick Neuheisel did say, however, that non starters would get more playing time than they did last week.

"I look at the numbers from the first game and a number of guys on our front played an inordinate amount of plays," Neuheisel said. "[Defensive lineman] Justin Edison I’ve been told played more plays in that one game than he had played all season long last year."

UCLA lost the time of possession battle, 35:56-24:04, meaning the Bruins' defense was on the field quite a bit, but since many of the backups are freshmen or sophomores with little or no playing experience, Neuheisel said he was hesitant to substitute.

"In that kind of environment, playing the first game, especially in as a close a game as it turned out to be, it’s hard to put guys in for their first snap," he said. "But we’ve got to find ways to spell guys so they can play 100 miles an hour."

To that end, Neuheisel said some of the younger players would go head-to-head in a 10 or 15-play scrimmage Tuesday in order to see who is ready to play.

Iuta Tepa, Cassius Marsh, Seali'i Epenesa, Keenan Graham, Donovan Carter and Owamagbe Odighizuwa are among the freshman and sophomore defensive linemen who played sparingly or not at all against Kansas State. Freshman linebacker Jordan Zumwalt also did not play.

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