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Spaulding Report: UCLA Defense Is Looking to Reload

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The Bruins’ defense is looking to reload after losing Takk McKinley, Eddie Vanderdoes and others after last season.

Early enrollee Darnay Holmes has been making an impact so far this spring.
Joe Piechowski

UCLA Football held their 5th practice of the Spring this morning. They’re now a third of the way through Spring Practice already.

Before we get into the post-practice briefings, we have a short video of the running backs and tight ends in a one-on-one drill with the linebackers. All of our videos today are courtesy of Edward Lewis and the Bruin Sports Report except for Boss Tagaloa which is courtesy of Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal.com.

Overall, based on that video, it looks like the tight ends were doing a better job blocking the linebackers than the running backs were. Of course, when the team starts playing games in September, the backs probably won’t have to go one-on-one against opposing linebackers, but a drill like this certainly helps them work on their blocking for those times when they have to pick up a blitzing linebacker.

Meanwhile, after practice, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley met with the media for the first time this Spring. Coach Bradley spoke about how the defense needs to do the little things better compared to last year. He also explained how the defense has been installing new concepts in the first half of the Spring and how they will look to play faster in the second half of Spring Practice. “Our goal is to play faster,” Bradley said.

He also took some time to discuss the progress of Josh Woods. “He gets better because he works at it and he’s going to get better,” Bradley said. “We put Josh in some tough situations early in the Spring to see how he would react.” He admits that, now, it’s up to the coaches to get the best out of him.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Daily News asked him about moving DeChaun Holiday to linebacker. “The coverage part for him is pretty easy,” Bradley said. “He’s done stuff for us coverage-wise because he’s been with Coach Martin in the secondary, which helps us because he’s coming from back to front.”

“There are things he enables us to do because, [when] we get into certain situations, we don’t have to substitute,” he added. “He’s kind of a half-DB/half-linebacker right now.”

Coach Bradley also spoke about reloading on defense and replacing the guys who have left the team like Takkarist McKinley. On reloading, Bradley said:

I think it’s going to be more of a team defense. I think we’re all going to have get a little bit here...get a little bit from the other side and, maybe, be a little more multi-dimensional in our scheme this year than last because we had a guy like Takk who could do so many different things.

Coach Bradley was also asked about early enrollees Jaelan Phillips and Darnay Holmes. Bradley spoke glowing of the pair:

One gauge of them right from the get-go is how they did academically for the quarter. It was awesome....They should be getting ready to go to the prom. I don’t know if either one of them can get dates, but they should be getting ready to go to the prom and they’re out here with us....It’s an added bonus for us. They’ve done a great job with their schoolwork, which always concerns you....They haven’t been overwhelmed with anything we’ve been doing.

Josh Woods spoke about how he’s moved back to inside linebacker from playing behind Jayon Brown outside last year. He talked about having built up his legs in the offseason. “I’m a little heavier. Definitely, my legs go faster than I was,” Woods said. He was asked about how he’s a junior but only 19. “I started school early when I was little and then I graduated early from high school. So, it’s my third Spring Ball,” Woods explained.

Woods said that he’s been really impressed with Jaelan Phillips so far along with Darnay Holmes. Woods said, “Both of them are ready to go with the ones.”

Boss Tagaloa spoke about re-uniting with his high school teammate Devin Asiasi, who has transferred from Michigan. He indicated that Asiasi has filed an appeal with the NCAA to try to avoid having to sit out a year due to the NCAA transfer regulations. Tagaloa said, “It’s amazing just to have him back, just to be able to see him across the field now....It’s good to have him back on the team.”

Tagloa also spoke about his offseason program with Coach Alosi. He mentioned that he’s gained 16 pounds while losing 8% body fat since he got to campus. “I feel like I’m in way better shape,” Tagaloa said.

Thanks again to Ed Lewis and the Bruin Sports Report as well as Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal.com for sharing today’s videos!

Spring practices continue this week tomorrow at 4 pm and Saturday at 9 am. If you’re heading out on Saturday, don’t forget about our Saturday morning breakfast meet-ups.


Go Bruins!