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Spaulding Practice Round-Up: Thomas Duarte, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and "The Drive"

As UCLA Football prepares for it's opener in 8 days, Coach Mora closes practice to the press and we have a sneak preview of "The Drive".

Thmas Duarte celebrating a touch down.
Thmas Duarte celebrating a touch down.
Jonathan Ferrey

With only eight days until the UCLA football season gets underway, Coach Mora ramped up the seriousness by closing practice today, even to the press.  As a result, there is not a lot of news from Spaulding today, but thanks to Jack Wang, we have some interviews with two of our players.

Yesterday after practice, Coach Mora spoke about the importance of receiver Thomas Duarte.  Today, Jack Wang posted an interview with Duarte.  In it Duarte talks about his transition last year from high school to college and what is different this year.  The main thing has been working to get back in shape after suffering a minor injury and he says he's "feeling really good, really good". The injury hasn't been the problem, but with an up-tempo offense, being in shape to sustain that tempo is a challenge.

Duarte also talks about how last year everything was so new to him and that it took a while before everything clicked.  He said in the latter games, when Coach Mora said they really needed him, things did.  He now enjoys helping Mossi Johnson and other younger players learning what to expect.  The "veteran" says now that he knows what to expect he can work on specific things, primarily his patience on routes.  Having the trust of Coach Mazzone, Coach Mora, and particularly, Brett Hundley, is really helping him.  I know many of us have Duarte as a game changer this year.  He had an ability to get open last year and I am hoping he gets lots of balls thrown his way.

On the defensive side, one of the freshman linemen, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, that will not redshirt this year spoke with the press.  Here is the video, once again courtesy of Jack Wang:

Jacob speaks about how the coaches have been really helpful in transitioning from the 4-3 defense to a 3-4.  He says it's been challenging but that he has really learned a lot from the older guys and the coaches.  He also got some chances in camp to drop back into coverage which he really enjoyed.  He says the coaches have been focusing on his pass rushing and are liking what they see.  I think we have commented before, how we appreciate how these coaches try to get the best talent on the field, no matter what their age, and it seems to be encouraging these young men to really work hard.

Playing the best talent, even if they are freshmen, seems to be paying off in another very important way, recruiting.  Again, from Jack Wang:

I think we are all really glad to see Kenny Young with the Bruins.

Next week, the first episode of "The Drive" will air on Wednesday on the Pac-12 network at 7p.m. pacific time.  The network released a sneak preview of the first episode.  In it you can see practice, listen to Randall Goforth, Brett Hundley,  and Coach Mora:

let's be the team that's  the great example around the country...

that everything we do is beyond reproach.

Enjoy this preview and Go Bruins!