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Bruins hope to tackle problems from Oregon State game

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

UCLA had been strong on defense in its first three games, but had trouble stopping Oregon State in a 27-20 loss. What especially bothered defensive coordinator Lou Spanos was the Bruins' tackling.

September 26, 2012|By Chris Foster
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There are certain plays that stick in the craw of a defensive coordinator whose team got beat.

UCLA's Lou Spanos had 11 of them.

That's how many plays Oregon State ran on a methodical 88-yard drive that ended in a touchdown at the end of the third quarter of the Beavers' 27-20 win over the Bruins on Saturday.

"That one drive hurt us," Spanos said. "Football is a simple game. We, as coaches, have to challenge them to make tackles. The players have to transfer that onto the field. There were too many mistakes, as coaches and players."

Tackling concerns are nothing new to the Bruins. Arm tackling almost seemed part of the game plan in 2011.

Those concerns resurfaced at times in the second half against Oregon State, which promoted a little refresher course on tackling during practice this week.

"We went back to fundamentals," linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "We did a couple of hitting drills to get everyone amped up for practice."

The Bruins had solid second-half defensive performances in their first three games. And they forced two turnovers in the third quarter against the Beavers, but the offense failed to cash in.

Oregon State's Storm Woods shed tacklers for 49 yards in five carries during two scoring drives in the second half.

"Sometimes you rely on the other guy to make a play," Kendricks said. "We're trying to get that mind-set out of our program. We need to get our hats to the ball and put hits on the ball carrier."

Lights, camera, action

UCLA Coach Jim Mora tossed the media out of practice Wednesday morning after television camera crews wandered into restricted areas.

"We had some issues with our [sports information department]," Mora said after practice.

UCLA, like USC, has placed restrictions on what information can be used by reporters who attend practice. As a result, The Times and a few other media outlets no longer assign reporters to watch practice.

The incident was believed to have occurred just as practice was starting. Witnesses said camera crews were setting up on the field, which angered Mora.

"Today's practice was closed because we didn't have proper security," said Mora, who also told members of the school's sports information staff to leave. "I'm not going to jeopardize what we're doing as a football team because of the incompetence of some people."

More said he would re-open practice Thursday.

Kick back

Punter Jeff Locke's average may be down a tad this season, but his effectiveness is up.

Locke is averaging 42.9 yards per kick, a bit below his 44.6 career average. But of his 25 punts, 15 have been inside the 20-yard line, including eight inside the 10.

"It's like a 9-iron," Locke said. "You'll get a little bounce back if you hit it right. You change the way you drop the ball. It's really a feel thing."

There's another little trick in Locke's bag: outside cover men Damien Thigpen and Johnathan Franklin.

Said Locke, giving due credit: "Those aren't the slowest guys on the team."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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