Before practice yesterday morning, UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly met with the media again. After providing a brief injury update, which didn’t really update anything, Kelly spoke about the consistency of Bruin kicker JJ Molson. “You feel confident at that position because you’ve got a really good returning player” Kelly said. “If you see JJ’s work ethic and how he approaches kicking, you feel real confident.”
Kelly then spoke about how the increased familiarity the players have in his second season allows the team to play at a faster tempo. Kelly explained:
I think our kids have a better understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplish on both sides of the ball. So, the defense gets lined up faster. The offense gets lined up faster. It can be a weapon for you, if that’s what you choose.
Both of today’s video’s are courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
After practice, a pair of receivers met with the media. First up was Jaylen Erwin. Ben Bolch of the LA Times asked Erwin where he ranks on the team in terms of speed. Erwin confidently replied, “I’d put myself top three easy.” He then added that the fastest two were Darnay Holmes and freshman running back Keegan Jones. Notoriously missing from that list was former California sprint champion Kazmeir Allen.
This is just from the perimeter to the backfield with the running backs and then even on the defense from pass rushers, linebackers and the secondary, everybody’s fast. Even our quarterbacks are fast.
Once he was done talking about the team’s speed, he spoke about the fact that he’s more confident in himself than he was in Spring. That’s obviously just from becoming more familiar with the system.
He also sounded grateful to be in Westwood instead of Kansas. “It’s a blessing,” he said.
He wrapped up by mentioning that his cousin former Bruin linebacker Roman Phifer was out here last week and told him to keep doing what he’s doing.
Sophomore Chase Cota was today’s other receiver who met with the media. Chase confirmed that Erwin is one of the fastest guys on the team, but he did include Kazmeir Allen on his list.
Like Coach Kelly, Cota spoke about how the team has been implementing a faster tempo as a weapon. Cota said:
I feel like definitely just...I mean in practice now we’ve been able to use tempo on our defense a little more. It’s simpler signals. It’s like now we can just give one thing to everybody, rather than everyone having to get different ones. We have quick tempo calls and just get out fast. We implemented just more tempo stuff in the spring. I would say just simpler calls and you know exactly where to line up.
He was also asked about which of the new guys have stood out and he talked about Charles Njoku and Kain Medrano. Cota explained, “Kain’s got really good hands and then Charles is quick at the line.”
One area of concern last season was quarterback play. Cota concluded his remarks by addressing this. Cota discussed the change in the quarterbacks this year by saying:
I think [the quarterbacks] keep elevating their game. I came in last spring ball, last fall camp, this spring ball, this fall camp. I think, every time, they’ve gotten more and more comfortable. I feel like, now, we have you know three or four guys they can go in and they’re not gonna slow it down with the tempo or anything. And, then, just Dorian’s out elevating his game more and more, too. I can just tell he’s really confident in practice. He’ll be out there talking and cheering guys on. So, it’s exciting.
Thuc Nhi Nguyen notes in her article for the LA Daily News that the Bruins worked on implementing their nickel and dime packages yesterday. Nguyen writes:
UCLA practiced its nickel and dime defensive packages during pre-practice walk-throughs Sunday, working with redshirt sophomore Jay Shaw as the starting nickel and junior safety Mo Osling III playing the sixth defensive back. When Shaw played as the fifth defensive back, the Bruins removed one defensive lineman. The defense traded two outside linebackers for the two extra defensive backs in the dime package.
Finally this morning, have you signed up for the new SB Nation Fan Pulse yet? The plan is to have our own Bruins Nation Top 25, but we can only do that if we get enough signups. Right now, it looks like we need a minimum of about 20 more sign-ups, but ideally about 70 more. So, please sign up now if you haven’t already.