UCLA: Simon Goines

UCLA enters spring with few holes

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
5:30
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One of the ways a football team transitions from a group of wishful maybes to a sense of near-ontological certainty is when its collection of spring practice questions becomes mostly an array of appealing potential options.

So we have UCLA as it transitions from an underachieving program (1999-2011) to a good one (2012-2013) to one that has the makings of a national contender in 2014.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty ImagesWith few questions to answer this spring, Jim Mora has the makings of a special 2014 season with UCLA.
While the Bruins have questions on their depth chart, there isn't any particular area of vexing concern. The five positions where starters need to be replaced seem likely to be filled by promising athletes with playing experience. If those more veteran players don't rise to the fore during spring practices, that mostly speaks to the program's strong recruiting under Jim Mora.

Further, it's reasonable to project that those 20 or so freshmen and sophomores who saw significant playing time last year will physically and mentally mature into their primes.

There simply aren't any worrisome voids on this team.

As in:
There are, of course, important questions.

Is defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa fully healthy? He told reporters Tuesday that he is. So then is the former A-list recruit ready to break through as a senior?

What does LB/RB Myles Jack do for an encore after one of the best true freshman seasons in recent memory?

And speaking of what's next, is it reasonable to project Hundley taking a strong step forward as a third-year starter? Of course, that's why the program has already launched a Heisman Trophy campaign.

A lot of variables beyond personnel go into a special season -- a Rose Bowl-, College Football Playoff-type season. A team needs a great offseason. It needs positive chemistry and leadership. It needs to avoid injuries. It needs to stay hungry. It needs laser-like focus every week.

Returning starters do not guarantee anything. National champion Florida State only had 11 of them last year.

But on paper, UCLA appears to be the most likely candidate to break the five-year Stanford-Oregon Pac-12 hegemony atop the Pac-12. The Bruins might even be a team that catches the notice of the CFP selection committee in December.

Replacing the Pac-12 South's early entries

January, 24, 2014
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The Pac-12 has 26 of the 98 early entrants in the NFL draft. That’s impressive. Some players are locks to get drafted. Others might have jumped the gun a bit and find themselves on practice squads or brushing up on their Canadian. We’ll see.

What we’re more concerned about here is who is going to replace them. Some answers are clearer than others. Some teams might have to alter their schemes just to account for a departed player.

Here’s a look at the possible replacement players in the Pac-12 South. We’ll look at the North later this morning.

Leaving: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona.

The replacement: Jared Baker should be in the mix, though an injury will keep him out of spring ball. He’s expected to return in time for fall camp. Pierre Cormier and Zach Green will also get looks. Speaking with folks at Arizona, the word right now is that it’s wide open. One player could emerge, or it could end up being a by-committee approach. Nothing is off the table at this point.

Leaving: Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State

The replacement: There really isn’t anyone who has Bradford’s skill set in the program yet, so the position is wide open. Viliami Latu has potential. So does Chans Cox, who was hurt a lot last season. They are also excited about incoming freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson. He might not be ready to jump in immediately, but he could be the Devil backer by 2015.

[+] EnlargeRichardson
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsColorado will have a hard time replacing the explosive plays that Paul Richardson provided.
Leaving: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

The replacement: It was probably going to be Jeff Thomas before he transferred. Now it’s probably going to be a rotation of D.D. Goodson, Devin Ross, or redshirt freshmen Bryce Bobo or Elijah Dunston. Nelson Spruce has been solid, but he’s not the breakaway threat Richardson was. This will be a key spring battle to watch.

Leaving: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OL, UCLA

The replacement: Simon Goines should be back after starting six games at left tackle before an injury forced him out. Scott Quessenberry stepped in and played five games at left guard, which is where he’ll likely be next season with Goines back at tackle.

Leaving: Dion Bailey, LB, USC

The replacement: Leon McQuay III saw some playing time and is very highly regarded by the coaching staff. His contributions last season were mostly on special teams, but he’ll take on a larger role with Bailey’s departure.

Leaving: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

The replacement: Remember George Farmer? He’s still around and could be in for a big season if healthy. Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell both are promising, but both have missed time with injury. You never truly replace a Biletnikoff winner, but playing opposite a surging Nelson Agholor could help boost the production of whoever gets in the regular rotation.

Leaving: George Uko, DT, USC

The replacement: Transfer Delvon Simmons is coming off a redshirt season, as is freshman Kenny Bigelow. Both should get some serious looks, as this will be one of the hot position battles this spring. Someone will ultimately win the job, but expect a rotation with both next season.

Leaving: Marcus Martin, C, USC

The replacement: Lots of ifs here. It could be Max Tuerk moving over from guard, but he’ll also be in the mix for right tackle to replace Kevin Graf. Khaliel Rodgers redshirted and is an option at guard or center. Giovanni Di Poalo could also get a look.

Leaving: Xavier Grimble, TE, USC

The replacement: Grimble and Randall Telfer were basically co-starters, so all this probably means is Telfer’s workload increases as he becomes the clear No. 1. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is the only other scholarship tight end on the roster.

Leaving: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

The replacement: Westlee Tonga seems like the logical fit. He has been around for a few years and has some experience, but was injured most of last year. He’ll get another opportunity to be the lead tight end in the newest installment of Utah’s offense.

Freshmen making an impact for Bruins

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
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Jordan PaytonAndrew Fielding/US PresswireJordan Payton is one of many UCLA freshmen who have stepped up to play well for the Bruins.

LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Payton said he stopped feeling like a freshman after he took his first hit.

Jake Brendel said that moment came for him after his first game. Simon Goines said his came about four games into the season. And Brett Hundley said it happened for him after his first big win over Nebraska.

The UCLA Bruins have had plenty of those "a-ha" moments this season. Coach Jim Mora and his staff have rolled out 25 freshmen so far this season, and nine of them have started, including four who have been starters every game.

Three games ago against Utah, the Bruins started seven -- yes, seven -- freshmen on offense. Yet despite the wet-behind-the-ears lineup, all the young guys have performed at a high enough level to have the Bruins (7-2, 4-2) ranked No. 18 in the BCS standings and in control of the Pac-12 Conference race as they head to Washington State for a Saturday night game.

"We kind of went through our moments early in the season where we wondered if we could coach or not," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "We went through our ups and our downs, but in my mind we don't have any more freshmen on this team."

That's because nine games in, they have been through the ringer enough to know what they are doing. Hundley has started every game at quarterback and plays behind an offensive line featuring Brendel at center, Goines at one tackle and Torian White, another freshman, at the other tackle. UCLA is averaging 37 points a game, which is second in the Pac-12.

Hundley, Brendel and White are redshirt freshmen so they at least had a year of seasoning in practice and on scout teams to adjust. But Goines and Payton, a receiver who has started the past three games, are true freshmen getting a lot of playing time and contributing at a high level.

UCLA has used 12 true freshmen this season after using only one last year.

Last week, Payton caught his first career touchdown against Arizona in a game that featured UCLA touchdowns by four freshmen. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, also a true freshman, had a field goal and tied a school record with nine extra points in that game.

"There were a couple of games where I was just like, 'Wow,'" said Brendel, who has started every game at center. "It was a different atmosphere, a different speed than I'm used to. But the more you go through it, the more used it you get. It just takes experience to get used to all of it."

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Upon further review: Utah rewind

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
8:22
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LOS ANGELES -- Brett Hundley had a career-high 15 rushing attempts during the UCLA Bruins' 21-14 victory over Utah on Saturday, a surprising number considering how the first one went.

On the first play of the game from scrimmage, Hundley took off and fell awkwardly as he got caught in between a dive and a slide after a one-yard gain. The next play, he threw a quick pass out of bounds and then called an unusual timeout.

It turned out he tweaked his knee and needed a minute to recover.

"It just didn't feel right for a second," Hundley said. "It just felt weird at the moment so I was like, oh, snap, so I called a timeout to get back into it. It felt really fine after that. They just checked it out and I did a couple of drop backs and a couple of plants and they threw me back in there."

Hundley went on to match his career high with 68 yards rushing, including three runs of 12 or more yards. He had 32 yards in four carries during a 14-play, 66-yard scoring drove in the third quarter that put UCLA up, 21-7.

"He made a major step in my mind in terms of demonstrating his mobility as a quarterback," coach Jim Mora said. "Those of us that have been at practice have seen it a lot, but he just tucked it and ran when he saw an opportunity to do that."

Hundley has been touted as a dual-threat quarterback since his arrival and raised the expectations sky high when he took his first collegiate snap and ran 72 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Rice.

He has dealt with a sore ankle since Week 2 against Nebraska and had only 51 yards in 44 carries the last four games before breaking out against Utah.

"They did a good job out there and covered our receivers," Hundley said. "If nothing is there, I'm just going to take off running and using the legs. When things are there, I'm going to take off and if the throws are there, I'm going to throw the ball. It felt really comfortable though."

His ability to run certainly won't feel comfortable for opposing defensive coordinators, though.

"I know how tough it is when you have to defend a quarterback that is effective throwing the ball and running it himself," Mora said. "We want to encourage him to do that when it's appropriate, but it's got to be the right time. (Saturday) I think he did it at the right times."

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Devin Fuller to play wide receiver

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
12:02
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LOS ANGELES -- UCLA Bruins coach Jim Mora and his staff have not been shy about using true freshmen in games this season so it's no surprise that the list could soon include Devin Fuller, the top-ranked recruit in UCLA's freshmen class.

Fuller, the No. 39 overall high school player in the nation last year, came to UCLA as a quarterback, but has been working as a receiver and slot back as well as at punt returner in practice this week. Mora indicated Fuller would play in certain packages possibly as early as Saturday against California and his role would increase as he continues to learn the new position.

"He wants to play," Mora said. "He sees all these other guys in his class playing and he wants to be a part of it."

Fuller is a dynamic athlete who excels in the open field. He lists Michael Vick as the athlete he admires most and his smooth running style as well as his physical stature (6 feet, 195 pounds) is reminiscent of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

Fuller had his heart set on competing for the quarterback spot, but Brett Hundley, a redshirt freshman, has started strong this season with 1,480 yards and 11 touchdowns passing through five games so Fuller was open to a position switch at least for the rest of this season.

"I don't know if it's a permanent switch yet," Fuller said. "It's difficult to give up quarterback, but Brett is playing phenomenally right now so this is the way I have to go to get on the field."

Fuller was one of the top-dual threat quarterbacks in the country last year when he passed for 2,247 yards and rushed for 1,326 at Northern Valley Regional High in New Jersey. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American game and finished his high school career with 6,148 yards passing and 4,589 rushing. He had 58 touchdowns passing and 60 rushing.

Mora said the plan as of now is for Fuller to be back with the quarterbacks in spring practice unless Fuller decides he wants to make a permanent move to receiver. Fuller said it's too early to say what will happen but understands that Hundley is still going to be around for at least the next two years.

"They told me just to work at different positions to see how I'd like it, but we haven’t talked about further plans," Fuller said. "It's a lot of fun working at the other positions and I'm a team player so I'm willing to do whatever is best for the team."

The Bruins have already used 11 true freshmen in games this season, including offensive lineman Simon Goines who has started every game. Defensive end Ellis McCarthy, UCLA’s top defensive recruit this year, also tried his hand at switching positions when he played offensive guard last week against Colorado.

McCarthy, however, has played from the beginning. Fuller hasn't yet appeared in a game. He mostly has worked on the scout team and even then has been playing receiver. He could preserve his redshirt season by sitting out the rest of this year, but he said he's willing to give it up even this late in the season.

"If they call my number, I'm not going to say no," Fuller said. "If they need me to go in, I'll go in. If they don't, then I'll keep my redshirt year."

UCLA's hot start fueled by fresh faces

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
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Steven ManfroGary A. Vasquez/US PresswireUCLA's Steven Manfro scores on a 49-yard touchdown pass against Nebraska last week.

LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Bruins are one of the early surprises of the college football season, having risen into the top 25 for the first time since 2008 after a 2-0 start.

What's even more surprising is that the Bruins have done so with five freshmen starting on offense and had another start on defense Saturday during a 36-30 upset victory over Nebraska.

That's right, almost half of the starting offense that is No. 3 in the nation in total offense had not played a college football game before this season. That group includes quarterback Brett Hundley, who has passed for 507 yards and six touchdowns.

Senior running back Johnathan Franklin is getting a lot of attention for his nation-leading 431 yards rushing, and deservedly so, but Franklin is the first to say that an offensive line consisting of freshman Simon Goines and redshirt freshmen Torian White and Jake Brendel deserves an equal amount of the credit.

Slot back Steven Manfro, another redshirt freshman who starts, caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Hundley on Saturday against Nebraska. Randall Goforth, a true freshman, started at safety against Nebraska and ended up leading the team in tackles.

And those starters don't include receiver Devin Lucien, who has made highlight-worthy catches in each of the first two games and leads the team with 115 yards receiving.

"They responded well," coach Jim Mora said. "They are mature beyond their age. When you get in an environment like [Saturday] where it is intense and you are playing a great opponent and you’re in front of a big crowd and the lights come on, you can get overwhelmed and I didn’t see that from our guys so I was really proud of them."

The offensive line was considered a question mark for the team during training camp and it wasn't until the week before the first game that the coaches settled on a starting five that included three freshmen. Brendel displayed the smarts and toughness to man the center spot while Goines (6-7, 324) and White (6-5, 285) displayed the size and athleticism that led the coaches to take the chance on starting them over more experienced players.

So far, all they have done is impress by helping open holes for Franklin and giving Hundley enough time to complete 42 of 61 (68.9 percent) passes.

"The skill guys can come in and play as freshmen no problem, but it's those big guys you worry about," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "We saw the potential, but they hadn't performed. That was the great unknown, but so far they have shown that they can handle it."

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Upon further review: Rice rewind

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
6:43
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The three missed extra-point attempts in the UCLA Bruins' season opening 49-24 victory over Rice were a product of poor technique on the front line, coach Jim Mora said Friday after reviewing the film, and he plans on correcting those mistakes this week in practice.

"We recognized some technique errors that we’ll get fixed this week," Mora said. "It was primarily up front. It’s little things, correctable things, but things that need to get corrected now. Pad level, foot placement. Really minor things that can turn into huge, huge issues if you don’t get them corrected."

Rice's Cameron Nwosu set an NCAA record with three blocks on extra-point tries as the Rice front line created a surge and Nwosu plunged through the middle each time. He blocked UCLA's first two attempts during a two-minute span of the first quarter and then got another near the end of the first half.

UCLA went for two on its two second-half touchdowns and Mora said he made sure to talk with kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, a true freshman making his college football debut against Rice, about the reason he was going for two. It was because Rice nearly returned one of the blocks for a two-point score.

"I didn’t want him to think it was a product of him in his first year as a kicker," Mora said. "He’s going to be an outstanding player. He’s a really great kid. But I didn’t want to give them a chance to put points on the board on a play where we’re supposed to be putting points on the board."

Fairbairn wasn't too fazed by the blocks, Mora said. In between the first two blocks and the third, Fairbairn made two extra points and a 27-yard field goal, so his confidence was fine, Mora said.

"There were a couple that he could have gotten up quicker, but that wasn’t the primary reason that we got those kicks blocked," Mora said. "I think he’s OK, he’s a tough young man, he’s pretty resilient. During the game he was OK. I think it was good for him the he got to get out there and make a field goal, make a couple of extra points. He responded well on sideline. He was upbeat."

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O-line questions linger with season looming

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
10:29
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LOS ANGELES -- The clock is ticking on training camp for UCLA, which held it's final open practice of the fall Tuesday night at Spaulding Field and will go into game-planning mode for Rice on Wednesday.

That means the clock is also ticking on figuring out a starting five on the offensive line -- the biggest remaining unsettled concern the Bruins have before the Aug. 30 season opener.

Projected starters Jeff Baca and Greg Capella have been out for about two weeks because of concussions as has Alberto Cid, a part-time starter last season who was competing to start this year.

Those injuries have forced other players to step in and have forced the coaches to juggle players around, including putting tackles at guard and guards at tackle in an attempt to find a cohesive and effective group. So even with the opening game only eight days away, the Bruins are still far from figuring out who the starting five will be up front.

"Not close yet," coach Jim Mora said. "We’re still mixing and matching. We moved some guys around a little bit and trying to find the best combination. Pretty soon here, which to me here is tomorrow or Thursday a week before our first game, we need to settle in and get that group playing and playing well."

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Angry Mora tosses entire team from practice

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
12:22
AM PT
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- Mere hours after making his team start practice over, UCLA coach Jim Mora threw in the towel early.

The second session of a double day came to an abrupt end when an irate Mora sent the entire team back to the locker rooms at Cal State San Bernardino. He did not allow players to stay after for additional work or meet with their position coaches. No players spoke with reporters.

Afterward, Mora would not address specifics of what made him so upset, but acknowledged some of the general things that make him upset as a coach.

"Lack of effort, lack of focus, lack of discipline," Mora said.

The morning session got off to a rocky start when the Bruins showed a lack of focus during a walkthrough. Mora restarted practice, making the players re-do warm-ups and stretching. He then went back to the walkthrough.

"The start of practice we had to kick it in a little bit," Mora said Wednesday morning. "These are young men and they are still developing, still learning and still maturing. Sometimes they just need a little push to get going."

He pushed the team right off the field as the evening session was winding down. The practice had become physical with several shoving matches and lots of trash talking. The coaches tried to control it; they even sent one player off the field after a skirmish.

But the lack of discipline continued and Mora launched into a explicative-filled tirade and halted practice in the middle of the 11th period. The team normally goes 12. Mora huddled the team together for more scolding before sending the players to the showers.

It was the penultimate practice at Cal State San Bernardino for the Bruins, who have been in the Inland Empire for 12 days and were at the end of their 15th practice. It's been unusually hot, with temperatures routinely reaching 105 or higher, so the players may be starting to wear down. Wednesday, however, was the first day in the last 10 when temperatures did not hit triple digits.

"It’s been great to be out here, but I think it’s time to get back to Westwood," Mora said. "The players are excited to get home, sleep in their own bed, get in familiar surroundings. It’s been a great two weeks out here, but I think it’s time to go back. We’re two weeks away from Rice and it’s time to go home."

Other practice notes:

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Mora pushes reset button on UCLA practice

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
2:14
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SAN BERNARDINO--Jim Mora employed the old if-at-first-you-don't-succeed method when UCLA's practice didn't get off to a particularly sharp start Wednesday morning at Cal State San Bernardino.

About 20 minutes in to the session, Mora pushed control-alt-delete and had the players start over from the pre-practice warm up. He said it was a bit of a fun hangover after a team bowling trip the night before and implored the team to learn how to re-focus after a fun experience.

"Sometimes they just need a little push to get going," Mora said. "What I think they are starting to understand is that every time you step on the field, regardless of the circumstances, you have to focus in. I thought they responded well."

Safety Dalton Hilliard also noticed a lack of focus during the early portion of practice with some guys standing on the sideline holding various conversations and not paying attention to what was going on in practice. He fully supported Mora's decision to restart.

"We needed it," Hilliard said. "Whenever we have success and come off of a big win or having fun, we have to be able to flip the switch and put work in."

Hilliard, a senior, said he later regretted not taking action himself and had a meeting with some other seniors about making sure they take the initiative in those situations.

"That’s not something [Mora] should have to do," Hilliard said. As seniors, we have to take it upon ourselves to be like ‘hey guys, let’s focus up.’ As seniors we have to take that a little more seriously especially these next two days with guys focusing on getting back to Westwood. We can’t have our guys lose focus and we have to really make sure the guys finish strong."

O-Line adjusting: The offensive line, down more than a handful of players because of injuries and heat-realted issues, is starting to get some players trickling back into action.

Alexandru Cheachir returned Wednesday morning after sitting out several days with heat issues while Simon Goines, Michael Padovese and Will Oliver were all in attendance. They did not dress, but getting outside is a strong indication that they are close to a return from their heat issues.

The falloff of lineman that ran rampant early in camp seems to have halted, thanks in large part to an adjustment of how they are practicing. Early on, the linemen spent the entire time in the sun, even doing conditioning drills in between periods.

Now, the linemen get frequent breaks in the shade and rest even while the skill players run pass patterns.

"When you’re down numbers and you go at the tempo that we go at, you have to be careful with those guys, Mora said. "They’re the biggest guys, it takes them the longest to cool off so we modified how we practice them strictly because of numbers."

Center Jake Brendel, one of the few linemen who has not had heat problems during camp, said the extra rest has made a big difference.

"It’s really helped," Brendel said. "We’re getting back to full rest, getting back to as rested as we can be to get to the next team period. Lowering the heart rate down and regrouping because this offense can be really intense."

Injury updates: Offensive lineman Torian White will have a procedure later this month to correct a heart rhythm problem. He is cleared to practice until then and is not expected to miss time after the minor procedure...Receiver Devin Lucien sat out of practice for the second consecutive day with a concussion. There is no timetable for his return...running back Damien Thigpen, who has a history of hamstring issues, did light work on the side after feeling tightness in his lower body, Mora said.

 

O-line searching for answers and bodies

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
9:37
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SAN BERNARDIO -- The Bruins’ offensive line had questions coming in to camp and Thursday the biggest question was: Where’s the beef?

The Bruins were down to nine offensive linemen by the end of practice Thursday, when Alberto Cid left because of a head injury and Greg Capella tweaked his calf. They joined Jeff Baca (heat), Simon Goines (heat), Brett Downey (heat), Chris Ward (back) Tre Hale (heat), Colby Cyburt (back) and Torian White (chest pains) on the sideline, giving the Bruins as many injured linemen as healthy at the end of Wednesday's session.

The players out because of heat symptoms should return in the next day or two and so, too, should Cyburt, but this group still has to fill some holes before it starts making them.

Xavier Su’a-Filo is guaranteed to be starting at left tackle and Baca will be starting somewhere, but the other three slots are open. Jake Brendel seems to have taken a stronghold on the center spot and Capella is the early favorite for left guard, but the coaches are still searching high and low for a right tackle.

“It’s wide open,” offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said. “You can come right in off the street right now and start at right tackle.”

White, Goines and Downey were getting the right tackle reps before they were injured and Ben Wysocki is there now with Will Oliver backing him up. If none of them can win the job, Baca will likely move from right guard to right tackle, where he played last season.

Klemm says he prefers to have Baca at guard because that’s where Baca will play should he get drafted by an NFL team, but Baca is open to playing tackle if another player is better suited for right guard.

“I don’t have a preference,” Baca said. “I just like being out there and I’ll play any position. I just like to have some time to practice that position.”

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Patrick Larimore has a concussion

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
9:33
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SAN BERNARDINO -- UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore missed practice Tuesday after suffering a recurrence of concussion symptoms, coach Jim Mora said.

Larimore left practice Monday with what was at first thought to be heat-related illness, but Mora said it was a concussion. Larimore, a senior starting middle linebacker, had a concussion earlier this year and sat out the latter part of spring practice.

"We really have to be careful with that given the fact that he had the concussion at the end of spring," Mora said. "He didn’t come to meetings yesterday, we rested him all day, we’ll re-evaluate him in the morning and see how he is."

Running back Malcolm Jones and receiver Joseph Fauria also did not suit up Tuesday. Jones has a mild groin strain and is expected to return this week. Fauria felt tightness in his hips and is day to day. Linebacker Anthony Barr suffered a hand injury at the end of practice and was going to be examined Tuesday evening and defensive back Randall Goforth was also carted off at the end of practice because of an unknown injury.

Additionally, Cassius Marsh and Jeff Baca left practice because of heat-related symptoms. Tre Hale, Simon Goines, Brett Downey, Dalton Hilliard and Jordan Zumwalt did not practice because of heat-related symptoms from Monday. Kenny Walker, who had an asthma attack Monday, was back on the field Tuesday.

UCLA training camp heats up

August, 6, 2012
8/06/12
8:59
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Peter Yoon / For ESPNLosAngeles.com
Receiver Jerry Johnson takes a water break during camp, when temperatures soared to 106.

SAN BERNARDINO -- After two days of relatively mild conditions, the Inland Empire temperatures soared Tuesday during UCLA’s training camp and so, too, did the number of players affected by the heat.

Five Bruins players were taken off the field during practice because of reactions to the heat at Cal State San Bernardino, where the temperature reached 106 degrees -- about 10 degrees hotter than the first two days.

Add in the fact that UCLA was in shoulder pads for the first time and it’s no wonder linebacker Patrick Larimore and offensive linemen Tre Hale and Simon Goines were carted back to the UCLA locker room for treatment while offensive linemen Brett Downey and Greg Capella received treatment at the practice field.

In addition, safety Tevin McDonald sat out of practice because he was suffering from dehydration issues -- the same thing that kept Eric Kendricks and Cassius Marsh out of practice Sunday.

“You have to anticipate when you get in this environment some of those bigger guys are going to have some problems,” coach Jim Mora said. “And we’re doing the right thing in terms of taking the helmets off and getting them cooled down and getting them water and being precautionary with anybody that is on the edge.”

Mora originally said that the heat-related issues wouldn't mean any changes in practice start times, but he later changed his mind and announced that Tuesday's practice would start at 4 p.m., an hour and 15 minutes later than previously scheduled.

As you might expect, the offensive line was particularly vulnerable to the heat and by the end of practice only 11 linemen were working with the unit. Still, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm had his guys doing up-downs and other conditioning drills in the middle of the field even as the defensive linemen sought a shady area under some trees for their drills.

“I look at it like if my guys can take it and want to get better and do whatever it takes to get mentally tough and physically tough then we’ll go through it,” Klemm said. “If I see guys kind of struggling and not performing to their abilities because of the conditions, then I’ll change things. I personally think it’s tough, but it’s not unbearable.”

Klemm, who coached at Southern Methodist before coming to UCLA, said his teams there practiced in similar conditions every day. He said his goal was to get his unit to a point where they don’t even notice the temperatures.

“We’re not making a big deal about it,” he said. “We’re going hard trying to build some mental toughness. No one is complaining about it. People are just going and working hard. We’re being smart.”

Mora has tried to ensure the team has plenty of water -- the training staff carrying water to the players is working just as hard as the team -- and breaks have been plentiful. Toward the end of practice Tuesday, he had everyone remove their helmets and shoulder pads and ran drills in shirts and shorts.

“You just have to be able to work your way through it and work your way around it and be very proactive in treating the guys who have symptoms,” Mora said. "I told the team ‘I know you guys are all tough, but if you are starting to feel it, let me know so we can get you cooled down before we have any big-time issues.’”

That’s easier said than done, though.

“You don’t really want to pull yourself out and admit you’re defeated,” offensive lineman Jeff Baca said. “Nobody wants to admit they are defeated like that, but sometimes it’s not your fault. Your body reacts differently in different conditions.”

UCLA preseason preview: Offensive Line

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
11:34
AM PT
With UCLA training camp set to begin Aug. 4 at Cal State San Bernardino, we're taking a preseason look at the roster and breaking down the Bruins, position-by-position.

We started with quarterbacks and now move to the guys expected to protect the quarterback: The offensive line.

DEPTH CHART AT THE END OF SPRING PRACTICE:

Left Tackle
Xavier Su'a-Filo (6-4, 295, So.)
Michael Padovese (6-5, 310, Fr.)

Left Guard
Wade Yandall (6-4, 315, So.)
Alexandru Ceachir (6-5, 305, So.)
Ben Wysocki (6-4, 295, Fr.)

Center
Greg Capella (6-4, 292, Jr.) OR
Jake Brendel (6-4, 295, Fr.)
Tre Hale (6-1, 308, So.)
Kody Innes (6-3, 291, So.)

Right Guard
Jeff Baca (6-3, 290, Sr.)
Alberto Cid (6-3, 310, Jr.)
Chris Ward (6-4, 305, Jr.)

Right Tackle
Torian White (6-5, 285, Fr.)
Will Oliver (6-7, 290, Fr.)
Brett Downey (6-6, 305, Sr.)

PROJECTED OPENING DAY DEPTH CHART:

Left Tackle
Xavier Su'a-Filo (6-4, 295, So.)
Simon Goines (6-7, 324, Fr.)
Michael Padovese (6-5, 310, Fr.)
Conor McDermott (6-8, 247, Fr.)

Left Guard
Alberto Cid (6-3, 310, Jr.)
Alexandru Ceachir (6-5, 305, So.)
Ben Wysocki (6-4, 295, Fr.)

Center
Jake Brendel (6-4, 295, Fr.)
Carl Hulick (6-2, 300, Fr.)
Tre Hale (6-1, 308, So.)
Kody Innes (6-3, 291, So.)

Right Guard
Greg Capella (6-4, 292, Jr.)
Chris Ward (6-4, 305, Jr.)
Colby Cyburt (6-4, 265, Fr.)

Right Tackle
Jeff Baca (6-3, 290, Sr.)
Torian White (6-5, 285, Fr.)
Brett Downey (6-6, 305, Sr.)
Will Oliver (6-7, 290, Fr.)

KEY LOSSES
Mike Harris, 14-game starter at tackle. Graduated
Kai Maiava, 13-game starter at center. Graduated
Sean Sheller, Started 13 games the last two years. Graduated
Wade Yandall, Projected starter at guard took a medical retirement (concussion).

(Read full post)

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B. Hundley204148185613
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