On how the new offense affects him
There’s a lot of good opportunities for me as far as tight end goes. A lot of win situations for me and I mean just overall I’m improving on blocking, so that’s helping me stay in more – I’m not trying to become just a passing threat. But I have a lot of options and opportunities to catch the ball and score, so I mean I enjoy it a lot.
Anything that stands out as unique about coach Fisch’s offense
You can just tell coach Fisch has been in the league a lot, he talks about a lot of NFL film, he gives us a lot of examples. So it kind of just excites you to see you doing the same stuff NFL people are doing. Because that’s eventually where everybody wants to get to. So it’s cool to see a lot of NFL film. He’ll break it down to where you can see the examples and how it correlates. And we just follow what we’re supposed to do, and do what we’re supposed to do, how we can be successful and how it can correlate to the NFL as well.
On coach Fisch being detail-oriented
He is. He’s demanding but that’s what we need. He’s demanding and he wants what he wants. Today I thought we did what he asked, and we executed. We had a pretty solid day. So I mean I think everyone just has to continue to be on the same page and just keep improving.
On how the tight end role has changed since last year
I mean, it’s a lot of pro-style. We’re in the box, we’re blocking, seven techniques (against) big Rick Wades, JTMs, just big guys. So (the coaches) ask a lot of us, but if we want to be on the field, that’s required. So we have to block, we have to catch, we have to know all the route concepts. So I mean if we want to play, if this is the next level we want to do, this is what we have to know how to do.
On progressing from being a walk-on at USC to being a first-team tight end at UCLA
Well I think this year I’ve started to come into a leadership role. A lot of the players on the team, they respect me and I feel like I just keep my mouth closed and continue to work, continue to improve. And they’re taking notice. The team, they look up to me, the coaches, they expect a lot of me. So I mean I’ve very fortunate to be here, I’m very fortunate to keep gaining, to get another role. I mean, I was just looking at some high school (film) of me playing quarterback. It’s just crazy how time has changed, and I’m just very fortunate to be here in this situation.
On how much he has improved as a pass catcher and run blocker
I feel like I’ve always been able to catch the ball pretty well, but I feel like the run game is what I’ve needed to work on. Just putting on weight, getting stronger. Coach Alosi has done a great job helping me get stronger in the weight room, and the training staff helping me get my legs stronger. So I feel like the run game is something I’ve improved on. I’ve always had good hands, but I just want to be more detailed in my route running, and that’s improving. Coach Rip, he’s always on me about being detailed and there’s no such thing as perfection, but working towards it. So I feel like I’ve improved and it’s getting better.
On the benefit of being able to keep tight ends coach Rip Scherer on staff
I’m very fortunate. I’m very excited to have coach Rip back. I mean, him and coach Mora and coach Tuiasosopo were the ones who gave me my first opportunity and who believed in me enough to get a scholarship. So for him to be retained and still be my coach, I was really thankful. And (Scherer and I) are on the same page. I know what he expects and I know what he wants, so that’s nice to be able to still have that continuing.
On the running game
Today the running game went really well. We incorporated some new schemes, schematic plays, and you could just tell they go together, they complement each other really well. So I mean we saw great runs out of pretty much all the backs, and everybody’s getting better. So I just feel like we have to continue to improve and if we’re able to run the ball, it will open up the passing game for Josh, and we can just let Josh do what he does best.
On how the tight end position has progressed since he first got to UCLA
We have a really talented group. Devin (Asiasi), everyone knows, he’s highly touted out of high school, he’s a very big guy, strong, fast – he’s good. Jordan Wilson is progressing, he’s working with the 1s as well. Jimmy Jaggers, I mean, he’s still supposed to be in high school, but he shows flashes; he scored a touchdown today, which was good. And Austin Roberts is a little bit banged up, but when he gets back, he’ll be another fast, deep-threat option which will just help add to the room. We’ve just got to continue to improve.
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