UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr takes a break during summer camp. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Anthony Barr shrugged. He didn’t know what the big deal was about.
In his first game as a linebacker, all Barr did was have six solo tackles and one sack in the Bruins' 49-24 season-opening victory.
"I expected great things out of myself," said Barr, a junior who was a receiver and running back the last two seasons. “People seemed to be making a bigger deal out of it than I am."
Like his coach.
"I didn’t know what to expect, considering he hadn’t played the position in a game,” Coach Jim Mora said. Mora said that he saw “a big, explosive, powerful guy.”
Barr was UCLA’s best defensive player against Rice, despite playing with a left hand that is heavily wrapped to protect a broken bone.
"The first couple series, I didn’t start as fast as I hoped," Barr said. "It was different environment, different feel. Midway through first quarter, I got my feet under me a little bit."
Barr said the protective wrap could be removed this week.
"Once he gets that club off, he’s going to be dynamite," Mora said.
If there was an area that Barr needed to improve in it was pass coverage.
"His football instincts take over when he’s moving forward," Mora said. "Things like taking on blockers are natural to him. Backing away into pass coverage is something he has to work on."
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Barr said he "wasn’t happy with the way my first two seasons went, but it was a good experience." He had 12 receptions for 82 yards and gained another 54 yards rushing in two seasons on offense.
"The experience helps me on defense to some extent," Barr said. "I have ideas what they're going to try to do. I can read lineman, see how they are going to block someone."
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