UCLA Football: Jim Mora's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice
Heading into the summer, Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins have four concerns relating to the prospects of the 2014 season.
Health at a key position will be paramount going forward. It would also be ideal to have a member of the crowded backfield separate from the proverbial pack and be "the guy" going forward. Lastly, depth concerns figure at two significant positions.
There is no order determining the level of importance for the four concerns. One slide in particular is clearly depicted as the most pressing concern for the squad.
Here's a look at the four biggest concerns post-spring practice for the UCLA Bruins.
Options Behind Brett Hundley
The contingency plan behind Brett Hundley has to be the main concern currently for Mora and the Bruins.
Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard have been battling it out to become Hundley's top reserve. Neither has been overly impressive this spring.
In the spring game, Woulard went a paltry 4-of-13 for 42 yards. Neuheisel did go 14-of-22 for 180 yards, but he was victimized by two interceptions.
In the event of a serious injury to Hundley, UCLA would be in trouble. Woulard has the talent to be a good quarterback one day. However, he's still very raw and new to the position.
Neuheisel is more of a stabilizer at the position. He's older and more experienced than Woulard. To his detriment, Neuheisel isn't blessed with tremendous physical gifts.
Simply put, UCLA has to hope Hundley doesn't sustain an injury.
Health of the Offensive Line
As per usual with the UCLA football program, the offensive line has become snake-bitten from an injury standpoint.
Tackles Simon Goines and Conor McDermott were out for the entire spring. Both figure to be two of UCLA's top four tackles on the roster. Goines would ideally be the starting right tackle.
Projected starting guard Alex Redmond participated in the spring with a club on his hand. Left tackle Caleb Benenoch was slowed toward the end of the period with a hyperextended knee.
Depth is light years ahead of where it was when Mora first took over the job. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has done a masterful job of coaching up the unit and replenishing it with top high school talent.
Assuming Goines and McDermott come back in the fall (which is likely), it should be a deep and talented unit. It will just be a matter of getting everyone fully healthy.
Depth at Outside Linebacker
The depth at outside linebacker has got to be a bit concerning.
Myles Jack will patrol one of the spots. The other is likely to go to rising junior Kenny Orjioke. Behind the projected starters, depth is relatively thin. Sophomore Deon Hollins will likely have a role as a pass-rushing specialist in third-down situations.
Some of these concerns could be alleviated based on scheme. If UCLA opts to run a 4-2-5 formation, it lessens the need for true outside 'backers. Jack would automatically be one of the aforementioned linebackers.
Orjioke could drop down as a defensive end in this formation, with Eric Kendricks setting up shop as the second 'backer next to Jack in the middle. UCLA's defensive line should be good enough to draw considerable pressure with the likes of Ellis McCarthy, Owa Odighizuwa, Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes.
With a lack of bodies at the position, look for incoming freshman Dwight Williams to perhaps see time in a reserve role.
Having a Lead Back
UCLA has a solid stable of running backs.
The Bruins return contributors Jordon James, Paul Perkins and Steven Manfro. Redshirt freshman Craig Lee will also join the mix as an option.
While the overall depth is decent, UCLA doesn't have a "lead back" on the roster. There isn't necessarily one back capable of carrying the ball 20-25 times per contest.
Lee might have the highest ceiling of the bunch. However, he's inexperienced, having yet to play a single snap yet on the collegiate level.
The fall camp will help to determine a respective pecking order for the upcoming season. At this point, James is likely the top option.
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