YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


UCLA Coach Jim Mora sees promise in Bruins' youth

Mora says 17 of the team's 25 first-year freshman could see action this season. 'My sense about these kids … is it's not too big for them.'

August 23, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA Coach Jim Mora knows freshmen will get playing time for the Bruins, but he still isn't sure how much of an impact they'll have on the team.
UCLA Coach Jim Mora knows freshmen will get playing time for the Bruins,… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

UCLA Coach Jim Mora went into name-dropping mode Friday.

Asked what first-year freshmen would, or could, see action, Mora named 17 of the team's 25, though he noted that cornerback Johnny Johnson is injured.

But, he said, "Playing well is one thing. Playing well enough to win is another. That is still to be determined. My sense about these kids, and hopefully it's confirmed as we go through the season, is it's not too big for them."

The Bruins used 12 first-year freshmen in 2012.

UCLA will depend on several freshmen, and the most vital would appear to Caleb Benenoch, who will start at right guard. Defensive ends Eddie Vanderdoes and Kylie Fitts and nose tackle Kenny Clark will be key parts of the defensive front.

Clark has played himself into a spot. Mora said during training camp that Clark would probably redshirt because the Bruins had Seali'i Epenesa and Ellis McCarthy at nose tackle, as well as Brandon Willis, who can play end and tackle.

To make room for Clark, "We're doing some different things upfront and moved some guys around because we think Kenny is a guy who can play immediately."

McCarthy has been used at defensive end in the past.

No matter how many freshman UCLA uses, Mora is sure of a few things.

"When they go out for the first time, there are going to be some nerves and excitement and some mistakes made," Mora said. "I only hope they make them at full speed and they make some plays to cover up for those mistakes.

Johnson is one freshman who certainly won't play. He will have surgery on his right shoulder Tuesday.

Moreau impresses

Mora finds a lot to like about the playing style of sophomore cornerback Fabien Moreau.

Mora says many cornerbacks have a good stance, can backpedal and can get in position to make a play. "But then they can't make the play," he said. "The thing that stands out about Fabien is he can find the ball quickly and can make a play on it."

Moreau, a sophomore, moved from running back to cornerback prior to his freshman season.

Quick hits

Nevada running back Don Jackson has been limited because of a minor leg injury. Jackson, who is replacing Stefphon Jefferson, the national's second leading rusher in 2012, is expected to play against UCLA. … UCLA tackle Simon Goines (knee) did more in practice Friday and is closer to being ready. … UCLA defensive back Priest Willis left practice with what is being called a minor tweak. It is not expected to keep him from practicing.

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

Los Angeles Times Articles