Pac-12: Jerry Johnson

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane; Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

UCLA spring game wrap

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
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UCLA head coach Jim Mora learned this spring that he hasn't learned enough -- which is why he's postponed his announcement on the Bruins starting quarterback to Aug. 16.

"I said before the spring we'd like for someone to reach out and grab it. But if they didn't, we weren't going to force it," Mora said after the spring game at the Rose Bowl Saturday. "And we're not going to force it, until the 16th. Then we're going to force it.

"I think what we gain by waiting is I want to keep a competitive environment and quite frankly I don’t think that anyone has really reached out and grabbed it enough for me to make that decision yet."

Knowing that Saturday's scrimmage would not be a deal-breaker for any of the quarterbacks, they went out, played loose and put up some pretty decent numbers against an injury-depleted, soft-serve defense.

Richard Brehaut completed 12 of 16 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Brett Hundley was 12-of-20 for 185 yards, a score and an interception (he also ran for an 18-yard touchdown) and Kevin Prince was 8-of-11 for 101 yards and two scores.

"It was fun to see our quarterbacks have success early," Mora said. "I think we have to really temper that with the knowledge that defensively we were really just playing two defenses ... we weren't really pressuring. But I still was impressed with their performance. I thought we caught the ball well, ran the ball well."

Brehaut has also decided to focus all of his attention on the football team and won't be rejoining UCLA's baseball team.

"For me, football has always been the priority," he told Peter Yoon of ESPNLosAngeles. "I wanted to give baseball the opportunity because I knew I can play baseball, but right now I think my time is going to be best spent with the football team and developing that leadership role."

Receivers Jerry Johnson (five catches, 125 yards) and Tyler Scott (three catches, 113 yards) both caught a pair of touchdowns. Running back Steven Manfro continued a strong spring with seven catches for 105 yards, a pair of carries for 20 yards and he also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

"He's really shown up in every practice we've had," Mora said of Manfro. "He's had a play or two in ever practice we've had and he did the same tonight ... he's electric out there. He's fun."

Defensively, there were also some highlights. Cornerback Sheldon Price turned in a pick-six -- headlining four interceptions for the Bruins secondary (two from Price) -- and Datone Jones tallied a pair of sacks.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said he's not too concerned about not having a starting quarterback coming out of spring.

"I don’t think it’s stressful at all because I think I’ve got some good players at that spot," Mazzone said. "Now it’s stressful when you leave spring and you don’t think you have anybody. That is stressful."

Biggest shoes to fill: UCLA

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
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Starters in, starters out. That's college football. Players' eligibility expires and they leave for the rest of their lives, whether that includes the NFL or not.

And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.

Our concern with this series? The biggest shoes -- in some cases Shaq-like size 23s.

Big shoes: WR Nelson Rosario

One of the most prolific wide receivers in school history, Rosario leaves the program ranking fifth all-time in receptions (146) and receiving yards (2,362). The 6-5, 219-pound receiver caught 64 balls last year for 1,161 yards -- including a team-long 76-yard touchdown. He finished the year with five touchdown receptions.

Stepping in: Ricky Marvray, Jerry Johnson, Damien Thigpen and/or Devin Lucien.

It could be one or two of the above -- or all of them. With a whole new offensive scheme, it's tough to project who will fill which roles. Johnson and Thigpen are coming off of injuries, but the X factor could be Lucien, who impressed during practices last year. Depending on how the quarterback situation shakes out, this is one we're not really going to be able to answer until we're a few games into the season. Of the group, Johnson is the most comparable in size to Rosario (6-4, 218). But the previous coaching staff was high on Lucien. We'll have to wait and see if he can impress the new administration.

You can check out the rest of the "Big Shoes" series here.

Quick notes from UCLA's practice

April, 17, 2010
4/17/10
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LOS ANGELES -- Watched UCLA's scrimmage on Friday evening, then raced-- or crawled through traffic -- to LAX to catch a flight. Here are some thoughts.
  • UCLA's season will be determined by both lines. There's plenty of speed and skill and quarterback Kevin Prince looks ready to take a significant step forward, but the lines -- particularly the offensive line -- continue to be works in progress.
  • That said: The Bruins running game -- dormant the past few seasons -- showed signs of life. For example, on a third and 7 play, Milton Knox converted with a tough run on a draw play. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said the tailback job is down to three candidates: Johnathan Franklin (nine carries, 37 yards in the scrimmage), Derrick Coleman (9-25) and Knox (7-24). In the fall, a strong recruiting haul of freshmen arrives who immediately will jump into the mix.
  • The Bruins new "pistol" offense, which features some spread-option elements, has inspired some skepticism, but Prince ran a version of it in high school and he's got good speed -- he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash during testing. There were some intriguing moments, but a couple of bad shotgun snaps surely will concern the coaches. Coach Rick Neuheisel said: "There's a lot of moving parts in this stuff. If we're going to be in this stuff and we're going to say that this is who we are and try to get to that point, we've got to be a heck of a lot better at it than this. If we can't get that done in 15 practices, then we have to ask ourselves if it's prudent to stay in it and that's where we are.''
  • Backup QB Richard Brehaut went 3 of 11 in the Bruins first scrimmage, but he was much better Friday, completing 11 of 17 passes for 106 yards with touchdowns of 16 and26 yards. Prince was 7 of 11 for 87 yards with a 37 yard TD.
  • The Bruins are looking for receivers to step up behind Taylor Embree, Nelson Rosario and Josh Smith, who's out with a knee injury. Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray both had good scrimmages and perhaps made statements. Carroll's grab of a 37-yard TD pass from Prince despite tight coverage from Sheldon Price was the play of the day. Runnerup: Morrell Presley got behind coverage for a 44-yard reception. And Jerry Johnson had a fancy leaping reception on the scrimmage's first drive.
  • Kicker Kai Forbath will be one of the best weapons in the Pac-10 -- he's darn near automatic. The first-team All-Pac-10 kicker and likely preseason All-American was good on four field goals attempts from outside 40 yards, with a long of 46.
  • Defensive end Datone Jones had a sack and a tackle for a loss on a reverse. He looks like a potential All-Conference player, along with linebacker Akeem Ayers and safety Rahim Moore. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler, a converted tight end, had two sacks.
  • There was a scare when center Kai Maiava, who's battling Ryan Taylor for the starting job, went down with a knee injury. He walked off, though, and Neuheisel described the injury has a "sprain."

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