Monday, May 14, 2012
UCLA spring wrap
By Kevin Gemmell
2011 record: 6-8
2011 conference record: 5-4 (first in South)
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter 1
RB Johnathan Franklin, TE Joseph Fauria, DE Datone Jones, LB Patrick Larimore, LB Damien Holmes, S Tevin McDonald.
WR Nelson Rosario, OT Mike Harris, C Kai Maiava
2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Johnathan Franklin* (976 yards)
Passing: Kevin Prince* (1,828 yards)
Receiving: Nelson Rosario (1,161 yards)
Tackles: Patrick Larimore* (81)
Sacks: Datone Jones* (3)
Interceptions: Andrew Abbott* (4)
1. Nice to meet you: Step one for a new coaching staff is to acclimate their players to not only their systems, but how they go about running their program. UCLA's players learned quickly that Jim Mora and Co. don't waste time. Players were introduced to a high-tempo practice session that took some getting used to, but ultimately they figured it out by the end of spring.
2. New look-offense: Players seemed to pick up new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's pass-happy scheme rather quickly -- and by the spring game, the quarterbacks were tossing multiple touchdowns. Each quarterback has said the new offense is less complex, but allows him to make quicker decisions. Because it's so pass-oriented, it caters to the talents of the quarterbacks. Which one starts, however, is still up for grabs (see below).
3. Defensive depth: The move of Holmes from defensive end to outside linebacker has opened up another spot on a fairly deep defensive line. Jones should flourish as a pass-rusher in the 3-4 scheme. Cassius Marsh, Brandon Willis and Owamagbe Odighizuwa bring depth and talent to a position group that should be the strength of UCLA's defense.
1. To be continued ...: Mora said he was hoping to name a quarterback by the end of spring. No dice. He wants a longer look at Brett Hundley, Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut before deciding. Each brings his own skill set and talents. Brehaut put up impressive numbers in the spring game and Hundley is oozing potential. This is the most important decision of Mora's young career as a college coach. No need to rush it.
2. Depth needed: The Bruins can fill out most spots, but there are still depth questions on the offensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Xavier Su'a-Filo returns -- which helps at tackle -- and linebacker Eric Kendricks had a good spring. But there are competitions other than quarterback to keep an eye on as they spill over into the fall. Which leads us to ...
Incoming help? It's possible that some of the players coming in could make an immediate impact. Which ones, however, remains a question. Defensive end Ellis McCarthy is likely to contribute right away; Ishmael Adams could pitch in in the secondary. Offensive linemen Simon Goines and Carl Hulick could also be in the mix.