UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 3 Biggest Spring Practice Concerns
Ahead of the UCLA football team's Spring Showcase on April 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., Jim Mora's focus should squarely lie upon the lack of depth at key positions—specifically at linebacker and the offensive line.
Truth be told, there aren't a ton of holes on this team. Mora and his staff have done a tremendous job in replenishing the existing talent on the roster. The roster depth is seemingly as strong as it has been in over a decade.
However, there are a few areas of some concern. These concerns primarily stem from injury, dismissals and suspensions.
Here are three areas of concern relating to spring practice for the UCLA Bruins.
UCLA has seemingly been snake-bit on the offensive line for years upon years.
This spring has been no different. Projected starting left tackle Torian White has been officially dismissed from the team. Tackles Simon Goines and Conor McDermott have also been held out of camp due to injuries sustained last year.
The Bruins are also tasked with integrating transfer Malcolm Bunche into the mix. Due to White's dismissal and the uncertainty of Goines, redshirt freshmen Poasi Moala and Kenny Lacy are battling it out for the right tackle spot.
Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is a mastermind at patching together a unit generally ravaged by injury and inexperience. He will find a way to get the five best linemen on the field. While not a dire situation, it isn't an ideal one.
The Linebacker Corps
The linebacker corps was a massive strength in 2013. With Jordan Zumwalt and Anthony Barr headed for the NFL, question marks do persist.
Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks are both unquestioned starters. Based on specific packages, one could envision Jack playing off of the edge and also in the middle. Kendricks will resume his role as the resident tackling machine.
The spot next to Kendricks is up in the air. Sophomore Isaako Savaiinaea is the likely candidate at this point. According to Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times, Savaiinaea did suffer a shoulder injury during spring practice. Early enrollee Zach Whitley also figures to battle for the vacant spot.
On the outside, rising junior Kenny Orjioke looks primed to replace Barr. Whitley, Deon Hollins and Aaron Wallace figure into the mix at the vacant position as well.
An expected contributor to the team, Wallace is not enrolled for the spring at UCLA. His possible reinstatement to the team is unknown currently.
Talent is not an issue with this group. The uncertainty over multiple spots is the pressing matter at this point.
The Running Back Hierarchy
The stable of running backs on the roster is not a worry, per se.
Jordon James, Paul Perkins and Steven Manfro all return from a year ago. Talented redshirt freshman Craig Lee will also be added to the mix.
In an ideal world, the spring practice will allow for a rotation to emerge, or at the very least for one tailback to separate from the pack and become a true No. 1 option.
Has this specific scenario unfolded? We really don't know as of yet.
It would behoove the offense to have an option with the capability of carrying the ball at least 20 times in a ballgame. With the existing talent on the roster, it could be another year of running back by committee for the Bruins.
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