Spring Football Roundup: May 17-21
UCLA football wrapped up its penultimate week of spring training Friday, moving closer to the team's Aug. 28 season opener versus Hawai'i at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have hit Spaulding Field 13 times during this camp session after having their 2020 installment shortened.
"The tough thing, last year we didn't really have a spring, so we go into fall camp and we're installing some new defensive schemes," explained assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Brian Norwood. "The season was really a learning process in itself. The thing that was big was really just the fundamental dynamics of it: the effort, running to the ball, the things you've got to do to be successful defensively, as a whole."
One player who adapted quickly was linebacker Mitchell Agude, who joined the team as a transfer from Riverside Community College prior to the shortened campaign. He would pile up team highs of 9.0 tackles for loss (1.29 per game) and three forced fumbles for a team that led the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss on a per-game basis.
"We're not even thinking about last year," said Agude. "We're just thinking about, every day, we've got to make plays. That comes from disruption from the front, it comes from coverage from the back and we're just making sure that everyone's doing their job. We've just got to make sure we're doing our job. That's how we're going to make production and make stops"
Another veteran player awaiting his second season with UCLA is offensive lineman Paul Grattan, who joined the Bruins as a graduate transfer from Villanova in 2020. He started all seven games for an offense that produced 230.6 yards per game – the second highest per-game mark in the conference. Grattan is one of four graduate transfers, with Brittain Brown, Obi Eboh and Qwuantrezz Knight, set to return in the fall.
"We talked about it a little bit and we were like, 'We've really got something special going on here. Why would we leave something special?'" said Grattan. "So, we all came back and I think it's awesome that we were able to return everybody and everybody wanted to come back for one more year, so I'm excited. That's the one thing about being on this field right now, everybody's excited and everybody's juiced up and can't wait."
The entirety of the starting offensive line is back for offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Justin Frye, who enters his fourth season with UCLA.
"It's fun," said Frye. "This is the most numbers we've had from an individual standpoint in drilling. It's good because you get a lot of reps and a lot of good quality teaching reps that guys can watch other guys on film and then we can get good quality as we're going and you're not blowing guys out. I've been there before where I've had eight or nine guys and you have to tempo through individual or you have to tempo through the team (periods). So, that is probably the best thing is just the teachable reps a guy can take and then a guy can watch because we get more reps that way.
UCLA football spring training continues through May 27.
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) May 19, 2021