Every spring for a collegiate football program is filled with a plethora of questions, excitement, ideas, and hard work. For teams coming off great seasons, sometimes it may be humbling to realize they are just not quite as talented as last season’s team. Thankfully for the UCLA Football program, that is not the case.
The Bruins return a ton of talent this season on both sides of the ball. Big play returnees along with key newcomers make for a team that absolutely will contend for the Pac-12 conference title, and potentially make waves nationally as well.
As with every spring there are injuries and position shifts which act like band aids to cover those injury riddled spots. Such position shifts can also yield new stars who emerge after being hidden before. Anthony Barr, the impact linebacker of the last couple of seasons who has since departed for the NFL and also a midseason shift of fellow outside linebacker Myles Jack to show his talents on the offensive side of the ball.
This last Saturday all the hard work and practice hours came together to be displayed at annual Spring Showcase for the Bruins. Let’s take a look at which player’s star shined brightest.
Out of the quarterbacks it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine Brett Hundley looking… well exactly like Brett Hundley. The redshirt junior and Heisman hopeful shined out for the gate connecting on 4-of-5 passes, the only incompletion a drop by Jordon James who would have mostly likely scored a touchdown on the play had he hauled it in. Asiantii Woulard looked good early completing 3 of his first 4, before going 1-of-9 to finish the day. An undwhelming finish to say the least. Jerry Neuheisel led two scoring drives in the first half for the Bruins, dicing up the defense along the way.
Out of the backfield Paul Perkins added some impressive runs as the offensive line opened some nice holes to be run through. Craig Lee and Jordon James also provided solid running and pass catching, which is a method the Bruins running backs thrived with last season. The receivers saw Jordan Payton look like a true number one receiver Saturday as well as Devin Lucien showing the increased workload that he desired.
On the defense, the coverage played a less aggressive and more of a bend, not break style against the offense, while good pressure was applied to the quarterbacks up front. Myles Jack made his presence felt, filling the gaps and stopping some early runs. The player that might have shined most on the defense was cornerback Fabian Moreau as he constantly locked down receivers in the second half, thus confirming his status of a “shut down corner”.
The special teams had a big run off of a reverse from Ishmael Adams in the third quarter. Sean Covington was consistent with his punts, nailing a couple very deep.
All in all this year’s game did much to confirm what we already knew, a potent offense with playmakers on the outside, ran by a star quarterback. The defense is quick in it’s pass rushing and the coverage is stingy. Nobody had any injuries, we can exhale now, the 2014-2015 season should be a big one for these Bruins