With UCLA Football off today, let’s catch up on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices.
Versatility. It’s another new concept that the Bruins are adapting to in 2018 Fall Camp, especially when it comes to having versatiliy on the defensive line. Chigozie Nnoruka discussed the need for the defensive line to be versatile after practice Tuesday.
“Coach has always made it a focal point that we should know all three positions in our down front,” Nnoruka said. “So there’s a lot of us moving. Sometimes I play nose. Sometimes I play end.”
At the same time, Nnoruka doesn’t seem to have a preferred position to play. “No, not really,” he said responding to a question about it. “I’m just ready to play wherever they put me at. Make plays where ever they put me at.”
Here’s Chigozie Nnoruka’s full interview, courtesy of Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online.
When Marcus Moore met with the media, he said, “What really matters to me is my explosiveness, getting off the ball, striking my man and being violent with it.”
That mentality has been drilled into the Bruins every morning of training camp. Defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase stationed his massive body on the back of a blocking sled Wednesday before shouting orders at the players gathered nearby.
“You’ve got to get angry!” Oghobaase said as the linemen struck the sled with alternating hands.
After one round of drills did not go to his liking, Oghobaase demonstrated the desired striking point and follow-through. He repeated his mantras like an echo.
“Effort!” Oghobaase said. “Violence! Technique!”
Moore also discussed the differences on the defensive line under the new 3-4 defense.
“It’s a pretty big change, but not too big,” Moore said. “I’m still on the D-Line, moving from end...now playing on the outside to now moving to the inside and taking on heavier guys, double teams and what not. But I’m taking care of it and handling it well.”
“It’s just different for me,” Moore continued. “I was more like an outside linebacker last year whereas now I’m on the interior.”
Moore also discussed new defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase.
“Usually when he is emphasizing things, it’s sometimes because guys aren’t doing it right,” said Moore. “But, at the same time, I like when he does use his voice. It’s very, very intense and it really gets me going. He’s a big NFL guy and It just kind of reminds me of what it takes to get to that next level.”
But, the most interesting thing Moore had to say had to do with what he has learned from new defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro. Moore spoke about “Coach Azz”:
I really like Coach Azz. That’s a great man right there overall. Yes sir.
People tell me I’m like an old soul and I really look up to my elders and I know, with old people, something to gain from them is knowledge. And with him, when we’re up there in the meeting rooms with the knowledge that he gives you, I’m starting to understand a lot of things that I didn’t really see when I’m looking at film, but, when he’s pointing things out, he’s pointing out specific things and I’m learning things with coverage. I’m learning things with the outside guys. I’m learning things with the inside guys and, every time I go in the meeting room with him, I’ll always pick up something. Even when it’s off the field or something or just him around, there’s always something he has to say that I pick up. With older people always comes knowledge and I’ve been picking up a good amount of knowledge from him.
Thanks to Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online for sharing Marcus Moore’s complete interview
A quarterback pecking order may be emerging. Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News wrote of Thursday’s practice: “The offense, which switches out every snap, started with Wilton Speight at quarterback, followed by Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Matt Lynch, Devon Modster and Austin Burton.”
It may not mean anything or it could mean something. But, at this point, it’s the biggest glimpse into the quarterback battle that anyone has provided.
On Thursday, Demetric Felton spoke about his role in the Bruins’ new offense. Felton said:
So far for this fall camp, I’ve been moved to outside. So, right now, I’ve just been trying to get used to those plays and getting used to being out there rather than inside and hopefully I’ll be able to get in the backfield and do some stuff out there too.
I think it suits me well I can I like to be versatile I like to do anything I can to help the team. So, as along as I’m helping the team I feel like I’m doing some good.
When asked about how the change came about, Felton added, “The coaches asked me if I could move out and I told them I would do whatever I could to help the team.”
Here’s Demetric Felton’s interview, courtesy of Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online.
When I wrote our tight end fall preview, I wrote that the Bruins are “loaded at tight end.” After yesterday’s practice, it appears that Ben Bolch of the LA Times agrees. He writes that tight end is “suddenly one of the deepest for UCLA.” Beyond the titleof article, he also writes, “It might now comprise the deepest pool of talent on the Bruins’ offense. Perhaps that’s why tight end won’t necessarily be a one-man operation on any given play under coach Chip Kelly.”
After practice, tight end Jordan Wilson met with the media.
Wilson spoke about how the depth at tight end is allowing the team to be creative and play two and even three tight ends at a time.
“We have a lot of sets with me and Caleb and, of course, Devin so we’re gonna use it a lot,” said Wilson.
“We’re split out a lot with our hand on the ground as well,” Wilson added. “I like that we’re real versatile and it’s just hard for the defense to matchup against that.”
But, the most interesting thing Wilson spoke about was how he described the relationship between the tight ends and the offensive line and his prediction for the offense this year.
“The relationship’s pretty tight,” he said. “We talk with the O-Line a lot because we have to communicate with calls and stuff like that and, even off the field, we’re pretty close. So, I’m excited about our line this year because we’re gonna move the ball a lot.”
Here’s Jordan Wilson’s full interview. Thanks to Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online for sharing it.
Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News reports that “[t]he quarterback rotation was the same as Wednesday: Wilton Speight, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Matt Lynch, Devon Modster then Austin Burton.” It will be interesting to see if this ends up being the way the depth chart plays out over the first few weeks of the season.
She also reports that Bolu Olorunfunmi appears to have missed three consecutive practices, but there has been no explanation yet for his absence.
UCLA resumes practice tomorrow.