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Spaulding Report: UCLA Football Selects Team Captains

Four of the Bruins team leaders, Jake Brendel, Jordan Payton, Deon Hollins, and Paul Perkins, met with the media after workouts and meetings today and talked about, of all things, the Bruins quarterback and preparations for Virginia.

The C for Center Jake Brendel also stands for Captain.
The C for Center Jake Brendel also stands for Captain.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Monday is the day that Head Coach Jim Mora meets with the press. I sort of wish wish he had because there are a lot of questions that Bruin fans need answering. Now I fully realize the answer to every question today would be and should be "No comment. We are aware of the events and we are investigating the circumstances. We will issue a comment when it is appropriate".

So maybe there's no point in Mora speaking today, though it might be reassuring to some of the Bruin fan base to see the face of the program on a day when the program is trying to save some face.

Then again, maybe it was more appropriate that four senior leaders spoke after practice. U.C.L.A. elected its captains and they met the media after practice.

Center Jake Brendel was up first and seemed to have a great look of relief on his face about his reelection as a team captain. He got the obligatory Josh Rosen questions and noted that his role at center doesn't really change with by the replacement of the veteran Brett Hundley with the true freshman.

Jake missed last season's opener at Virginia when the Bruin offense put up an anemic 7 points against a tough and blitzing defense. Brendel spoke about the frustrations of watching that game from the sidelines.

Thanks to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the videos today.

video courtesy Ed Lewis and BSRTV via YouTube

As much as I love Hundley, I think having a healthy Brendel over the ball offsets a true freshman QB this time around, and I expect the offense to be much more efficient and proficient, and far better prepared for what Virginia may do on Saturday compared to last year's opener.

The quarterback questions continued for Jordan Payton who said he'd like to take credit for Rosen getting the starting job by being his roommate in San Bernardino. He said all the usual right things about both Josh and Jerry but he kept coming back to Rosen's physical gifts and Payton seems sincerely excited about having that sort of arm in the pocket, which makes perfect sense coming from a receiver. He said he's excited for Rosen and that his "upside is incredible", and that his next steps are now just mental.

Payton also complimented Virginia's defense and coaching, particularly their sophomore safety Quin Blanding who led the FBS in tackles by a freshman in 2014 and was 12th overall in the country in that stat.

video courtesy Ed Lewis and BSRTV via YouTube

Deon Hollins broke down the Virginia quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns and discussed the need to be more fundamentally sound versus the Cavalier scheme this year, as opposed to last year's opener when Johns came on in relief of the starter Grayson and moved the team very effectively.

The linebacker was not exempt from Rosen questions and pointed out that Jerry is such a likable guy so there was a lot of sentiment in the locker room for him, but he noted how smart Rosen is already for a freshman and that he has worked to really get to know everyone on the team and they developed a comfort with him, too. Hollins added that the team has a lot of natural leaders and so there isn't the same weight on Rosen to be the guy on offense.

Deon said he thinks the Bruins are "absolutely" being overlooked this year. He got that feel at Pac-12 Media Day, but thinks the team works better that way and says it has given the team a blue collar mindset. Hollins himself is aiming for "probably about 12-13" sacks (I'll take the over) and he is really working on his mobility and pass coverage. He was also asked about Kenny Clark is "an absolute monster on the field" He doesn't just plug the middle but has a "non stop" motor and and Hollins compared him to a Clay Matthews type of player. (ooh, Deon, no trojan comparisons!)

video courtesy of Ed Lewis and BSRTV via YouTube

The news of the day regarding Ishmael Adams must have hit between interviews because the media asked Paul Perkins about it and you can tell from his reaction that he knew nothing about it. It was big enough news to bump the mandatory QB questions to second billing, but then the QB questions came and Perk handled with the same smoothness he shows with the football, calling the competition a great battle and expressing trust in both Rosen and Jerry Neuheisel. Perkins thinks that with a freshman QB in the backfield, he'll get some more attention from opposing defenses this season, but he noted the offense has a lot of weapons and that Rosen is a good runner in his own right, so teams can't simply focus on him.

He complimented Virginia's defense as being big and fast and he admitted that the offense wasn't really prepared for Virginia's scheme last year. That is a telling statement, though I guess you can make some allowance for the first game of the year against an unfamiliar opponent. But after last year's obvious struggles, there shouldn't be many surprises the second time around.

Perkins was also asked about running against Kenny Clark in practice every day and he had high praise for the Bruins anchor on the defensive line.

video courtesy Ed Lewis and BSRTV via YouTube

I love that his first question about Ish is "Is he ok?" Let's hope so.

it will be a very interesting week as the Bruins continue preparations for the season opener with the Cavaliers this Saturday. The media just caught on to the issues surrounding Ish at the end of the interview session today and as we saw, the players weren't even aware of it. But that's going to be the talk around the team for the rest of the week and it has the potential to be a big distraction. It's really unfortunate on one level that the team will have this sort of mess heading into game one, but we realize that's only one facet of this affair. Let's see how the Bruins coaching staff keeps this team focused with everything going on this week.