The UCLA defence took a important measurement guardant during a shortened 2020 play nether the guidance of antiaircraft coordinator Jerry Azzinaro and adjunct caput manager Brian Norwood.
Azzinaro has been with the programme since 2017, but Norwood was a caller summation successful 2020. The duo installed a caller antiaircraft 4-2-5 strategy that led to immoderate reshuffling among its returning personnel.
Like Norwood, immoderate of the Bruins’ cardinal contributors were caller faces, from the transportation portal, who not lone were trying to larn a caller playbook but their caller surroundings during a unsocial twelvemonth disrupted by the coronavirus.
Those transfers included linebacker Caleb Johnson (Fullerton College/Texas), linebacker Mitchell Agude (Riverside City College), nickel backmost Qwuantrezz Knight (Kent State) and antiaircraft backmost Obi Eboh (Stanford).
Knight and Eboh person the accidental to enactment intimately with Norwood due to the fact that of his work arsenic the team’s antiaircraft backs coach.
“(Norwood) truly cares astir his players,” Knight said. “If helium sees you are feeling down helium volition travel to you connected a idiosyncratic level. … Just knowing you person a manager similar that connected your broadside makes you privation to play hard for him. I deliberation each the players consciousness similar that astir him.”
With 10 starters returning and a afloat offseason to prepare, the Bruins expect to instrumentality different affirmative step. In bid for that to happen, they indispensable amended connected the scoreboard aft allowing 30 points per crippled successful 2020 (ranked 73rd successful the nation).
The Bruins did wide a large hurdle past play by getting their grounds supra .500 concisely for the archetypal clip since Oct. 21, 2017.
It didn’t past agelong erstwhile they dropped their last 2 games of the play (against USC and Stanford astatine home) by a full of six points. Their 4 losses came by a full of conscionable 15 points.
Norwood believes the mode past play ended has factored into the program’s attack this play and the players’ knowing of the request to power what tin beryllium controlled to beryllium successful.
They person held each different accountable passim the offseason and cognize the smallest of details mightiness person made a quality successful past season’s results.
“It’s conscionable raising the bar,” Norwood said. “They recognize that past twelvemonth that it was inches and that they had a accidental successful each game.
“There wasn’t a crippled we played that we didn’t person a accidental to win. We person to find a mode to beryllium victorious.”
The secondary consists of experienced upperclassmen who often service arsenic the program’s vocal leaders but it mightiness besides beryllium the country with the biggest request for improvement.
The Bruins ranked 114th successful the federation (out of 127) against the walk successful 2020.
Norwood remains encouraged astir the radical and recognizes what indispensable beryllium done to improve.
“We person a batch of vigor successful the radical and a batch of vigor to get better,” Norwood said. “Guys recognize arsenic they ticker past year’s movie that we person to get amended astatine the small things.
“It’s not truthful overmuch astatine times wherever (receivers) were conscionable moving wide unfastened but astatine times finishing astatine the constituent of attack.”
Seniors Stephan Blaylock and Quentin Lake volition commencement astatine information portion Eboh and Cameron Johnson commencement astatine cornerback with Knight arsenic the nickelback.
Cameron Johnson is listed arsenic a redshirt senior, but helium volition spot his archetypal enactment with the Bruins aft transferring successful from North Texas this year.
True freshman Devin Kirkwood is listed down Johnson connected the extent illustration but is expected to spot the tract successful immoderate capacity. Kirkwood has been held successful precocious respect since his arrival.
Coach Chip Kelly has been challenged to capable the void near by Osa Odighizuwa, who was drafted successful the 3rd circular by the Dallas Cowboys and is the lone D-line starter not returning.
Kelly said it would beryllium astir intolerable to lucifer Odighizuwa’s accumulation with 1 player, truthful helium is counting connected the radical arsenic a full to marque up for the void.
“That’s the chill portion of assemblage football,” Kelly said. “Every twelvemonth is simply a caller twelvemonth and you person to regenerate radical but for america there’s a clump of guys (to inherit the load).
Senior Otito Ogbonnia and redshirt elder Datona Jackson volition commencement up beforehand with Agude serving arsenic an extracurricular linebacker/defensive end.
“Ogbonnia is headed into his 4th twelvemonth present and truly getting better,” Kelly said. “He’s an wrong feline that’s truly helped america a bit.”
Agude started 5 of 7 games past play and recorded 24 tackles, including 9 for a nonaccomplishment and 2.5 sacks. He besides forced 3 fumbles and had a walk breakup successful his archetypal year.
There is assurance successful the extent disposable with seniors similar Odua Isibor and Tyler Manoa.
Freshman Jay Toia spent outpouring campy with USC but transferred to UCLA for the commencement of autumn camp. Kelly said helium volition beryllium eligible to play immediately, though helium wasn’t listed connected the two-deep extent chart.
Outside linebacker Myles Jackson could besides beryllium a cardinal contributor this year. Jackson missed the last six games of the play with a genu wounded that required surgery.
Caleb Johnson, Jordan Genmark-Heath and Bo Calvert were listed arsenic the Bruins’ starting linebackers connected Monday erstwhile the extent illustration was made public.
Caleb Johnson recorded team-highs with 544 tackles and 5.5 sacks successful his archetypal twelvemonth with UCLA.
Entering his 4th year, Calvert volition play extracurricular linebacker, known arsenic the Raider position, aft six starts and 28 tackles past play arsenic an wrong linebacker.
Genmark-Heath played successful 13 games during each of his 3 seasons with Notre Dame. Redshirt inferior Ale Kaho, an Alabama transfer, and freshman Devin Aupiu, an Notre Dame transfer, are some eligible and could lend this season.