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Spaulding Report: UCLA Looks to Fill Myles Jack's Shoes

The Bruins look to move forward after the loss of their do-it-all star linebacker.

Myles Jack and Isaako Savaiinaea.
Myles Jack and Isaako Savaiinaea.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

While the news of Myles Jack's season ending knee injury understandably overwhelmed the day, the Bruins practiced this morning and were forced to try to look ahead to their Pac-12 opener at Arizona this weekend.

Personally, I'd rather mope around and ignore the world after losing both Fabian Moreau and Myles Jack in about a 24 hour period. I know injuries are part of football, but with Eddie Vanderdoes already gone for the year, the loss of these three defensive stars before conference play is just insane and makes me ill. Add in Tevita Halalilo's season ending ankle fracture, plus the loss of players like Priest Willis, Asiantii WoulardChris Clark, and Craig Lee, and the Bruins overall depth has taken a huge hit after just one quarter of the season.

But the football team doesn't have the luxury of time to feel sorry for itself because Saturday will come on Saturday no matter what, and I signed up to do this article for today so I guess I better sack up, too. Next blogger up.

So...big breath...Jim Mora made an unfortunate cameo with the media this morning to confirm the news that leaked last night following Myles' tweet.

Our thanks to Tracy Pierson and Bruin Report Online for the video

Mora's comments were brief and he would not elaborate on the injury, calling it "a significant knee injury and that's all anyone needs to know".

Myles had surgery for the injury last night, which is interesting and suggests something about the type of injury that occurred. Chris Foster of the LA Times is reporting that Myles had surgery for a meniscus tear, though that wouldn't necessarily be a season ending injury in and of itself. There was speculation it was an ACL tear, but most ACL tears are repaired a week down the road, and Mora has never not confirmed an ACL tear in any of his players that I can recall, so that makes me think that it's something else. The kinds of knee injuries that frequently get immediate surgery include open fractures, dislocations with vascular injuries, and tibial plateau fractures, though there are other possibilities and reasons that surgery may have been performed immediately and this is just my partially irresponsible supposition.

Whatever the injury, we first and foremost wish Myles Jack all the best and hope for a speedy and complete recovery, and that this merely delays his incredible future a bit without altering it in any other way.

David Woods at Bruin Report Online noted that Myles, Moreau, and Vanderdoes should be all eligible for a medical redshirt this season, though Myles and Eddie are also both draft eligible following this season.

It was Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley's scheduled day with the media and he was pretty matter-of-fact about the injury, saying they're just going "Next guy up" and stressed that the Bruins have some depth at linebacker who can fill the various roles Myles' plays on defense and those players were already getting reps today. Bradley wouldn't name a specific player or situation, but he did say they were going to leave Jayon Brown in the position he has been playing already. He noted that the return of Ishmael Adams to the secondary does provide some additional options for covering Myles' slot coverage/nickel role in pass situations, and that they will really have to focus on getting lined up properly and quickly considering Arizona's high tempo offense. Bradley has some familiarity with a Rich Rodriguez offense having faced him when Bradley was at Penn State and RichRod was at Michigan, so hopefully that will give the Bruins' DC an advantage when game planning for the Wildcats this weekend.

Thanks again to Tracy Pierson and Bruin Report Online for the video.

One thing that occurred to my cynical mind is that the reason Mora and Bradley won't say who is going to fill Myles' position is because they don't know either. While that may have been an actual issue for the coaches for a few minutes, they've been coaching football for a long time and have had to fill open positions before, so I'm sure they had these plans in the back of their minds already. It will be interesting to see if the defense tries to replace Myles with one guy or multiple. Isaako Savaiinaea was fantastic filling in for Kenny Young at MLB against BYU, but that doesn't necessarily translate to Myles' role as a nickel defender against a spread offense. I don't know if Kene Orjioke can play coverage well enough to take some of those reps. Maybe a safety fills Myles's nickel spot and we replace a DB instead. Hmmm...

The problem with trying to use multiple players in specific situations is the difficulty of substituting against a high tempo offense like Arizona, and Arizona's ability to change plays quickly based on the Bruins personnel. Guess that's why college coaches get paid the big bucks, and the Bruin coaching staff will be severely tested this week and going forward.

Deon Hollins who said he was "absolutely distraught" at hearing the news gave some clues to the LAT as to what the Bruins may do to fill Myles' shoes on defense.

"We are still trying different guys in practice," Hollins said. "It will have to be by committee."


"As sort of a second fiddle, I'll have to have a mentality change," Hollins said. "I have to focus in more. The big players, me, [nose tackle] Kenny Clark, [safety] Randall Goforth, have to step up."

You were a pretty big fiddle already, Deon, but you're moving chairs even more now.

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