We had a great practice today. A spirited practice. It was great to see us come out with great energy after Saturday's scrimmage. Got a lot of work in today, and got to really use a lot of our young guys up front, which is great. It's invaluable to get all the reps that we did today.
On how things are going after the departures of Takk, Eddie and Eli
We have a lot of guys that have a ton of experience. You talk about guys that have been in the system for three, four years. Played a lot of repetitions for us, a lot of big games. They've stepped right in. It's good to see someone like Matt Dickerson really step up after playing behind the scenes. We used him a lot in different situations.
Boss Tagaloa played quite a bit last year backing up Eli Ankou. And now we have Keisean Lucier-South and Jaelen Phillips in that razor position. We could also use Jacob Tuioti-Mariner at that position, too. A lot of good depth. Rick Wade stepped up, played well.
On Rick Wade’s performance so far at spring camp
He's coming along. He's playing very physical. Good technique, great energy. We're fortunate to have a lot of depth right now.
On whether this is the deepest defensive line group he’s had at UCLA
I believe so. I believe so. Right now, currently, we're rolling three deep for spring ball, which is quite a bit. I remember my first year going defensive line, I think week three we didn’t have any twos. Kind of ran out of bodies. But yeah, it's awesome to see the development and growth of the players and to have the depth and have confidence in anybody in our lineup to get in there and compete and play.
On how the incoming freshmen – Martin Andrus, Greg Rogers – will factor in
For sure, we like to play as many defensive lineman as we can. If we can roll eight, nine, 10 guys a game, that's a huge benefit for us, especially against up-tempo offenses that we face. Keep guys fresh. I'm expecting the freshman to come in and compete right away also, and we don't talk about redshirt until the end of the year, so I wanna see those guys come in and compete, as well as the guys that are returning.
On replacing Takk’s playmaking role
We have a position, a defensive end position that's kind of a hybrid position. We have a variety of guys that are playing it now. But, Keisean Lucier-South, as I mentioned earlier. Jaelen Phillips; Odua (Isibor) is coming in; Jacob Tuioti-Mariner plays that position. Rick Wade can play that position. We have a lot of different guys. And I think we've done a great job of developing our players here, I'm just waiting for the next Bruin to step up and take on that role. And I'm confident that will happen.
On Jaelen Phillips
He's an excellent player. I'm expecting him to compete every day. He's really picked up our system. I can really tell the difference between week 1 to week 2 – he's just gotten twice as fast. So again, when you step on the field in college football, you have a lot of things happening, a lot of different calls, schematics. He's really picked it up, and again he's playing really fast right now. I think the more he plays, the more confident he's gonna be.
On what it’s like to have Ainuu Taua back on defense full-time
It's fun. Ainuu brings a lot of energy, very versatile player. He can play nose guard, he can play three, he's a guy that can play on the edge in short-yardage situations. He's a very good pass rusher. I think going to offense actually helped him, because he's understanding the schematics a lot better. He knows now, coming on the D line, what's coming at him. And I think it showed so far, the first two weeks. It's good to see him back.
On losing three starters on the defensive line
I'm happy for those guys. Those guys were big-time players for us. I'm excited about the NFL draft coming next week. That's going to be a lot of fun. I'm actually going to go back to Philadelphia with coach Mora to watch Takk get drafted. So we’re excited. But you talk about Jacob, he had over 500 reps last year in a game. Matt Dickerson was 550. Boss Tagaloa was over 300 reps. Rick Wade was over 300, in fact he was closer to 400. So that's a lot of experience those guys have. So now, obviously, the roles going to be a little bit different, they’re in more of a leadership role, and they've done a great job so far.
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