UCLA Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

Jason Fray@https://twitter.com/Jason_FrayCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2014

UCLA Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

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    In UCLA's 28-20 victory over Virginia, nine players assumed new roles as starters. 

    Some of those appointments were due to injuries suffered by other members of the team. The others were based on both overall development and strong play during fall camp.

    The sluggish effort by the team this past Saturday definitely permeated throughout the roster. As a result, it was a general mixed bag when it came to potential report card grades.  

    This piece will include the statistical output for the following players, as well as speaking to the impact each athlete had during the game. A final grade will follow. 

OL Malcolm Bunche

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    Week 1 Stats: UCLA's offensive line allowed five sacks 


    Breaking down Bunche's performance

    UCLA's offensive line was the biggest disappointment from last weekend's game. The unit was thoroughly outplayed by Virginia's defensive line. As mentioned above, the unit relinquished five sacks on the afternoon. 

    Of the starting five, Malcolm Bunche probably played the best. The Miami transfer isn't a natural tackle; guard is likely his best position on the next level. He was victimized by the speed rush a few times on Saturday. 

    However when watching the game a second time, his play was better than previously thought. His punch was effective, and he was generally able to use his size and power to obstruct defenders. 


    Final Grade: B-

OL Scott Quessenberry

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    Week 1 Stats: UCLA's offensive line allowed five sacks


    Breaking down Quessenberry's performance

    Filling in for starting center Jake Brendel, Scott Quessenberry had a nightmare performance. 

    To be fair, it's not an easy proposition to be thrust into a very vital position with less than a week's notice. Quessenberry was not effective with his calls at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line as a whole had immense problems with Virginia's blitz scheme. 

    As shown on television, offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was absolutely laying into the unit on the sidelines. 

    I don't completely fault Quessenberry, though. He has minimal experience playing a position which requires a ton of knowledge. 


    Final Grade: D

OL NaJee Toran

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    Week 1 Stats: UCLA's offensive line allowed five sacks 


    Breaking down Toran's performance

    Similarly to Quessenberry, NaJee Toran had a very tough day. 

    At only 275 pounds, the Houston native is considerably undersized. Effort and energy can only account for so much. Coupled with the fact that Toran is a true freshman, there will undoubtedly be growing pains. 

    Just on sheer size alone, Toran was overpowered on multiple occasions. He also looked clueless at times where he didn't know which player to pick up on a blitz.

    I do attribute nerves somewhat to Toran's performance. It was his first game on the collegiate level. Regardless, he'll need to improve in order to retain his starting spot. 

    If tackle Conor McDermott can get fully healthy, it wouldn't be a shock to see Caleb Benenoch slide over to man this position. In the process, it'll give Toran more time to get comfortable. 


    Final Grade: D

WR Devin Lucien

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    Week 1 Stats: Three catches for 17 yards 


    Breaking down Lucien's performance

    The overall pressure Brett Hundley faced did hurt the passing game. He wasn't afforded the time to look downfield and exploit Virginia's defense vertically. As a result, there weren't a ton of big plays. 

    Devin Lucien probably didn't have the game he was expecting. Perhaps UCLA's best option at stretching the field vertically, his longest reception on the afternoon was only 10 yards. 


    Final Grade: C

WR Eldridge Massington

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    Week 1 Stats: Two catches for 63 yards


    Breaking down Massington's performance

    Eldridge Massington's day started off very well as he caught a 48-yard reception on the first play of the contest. He was able to get considerable separation from the defensive back. Massington's combination of size (6'3") and speed (as evidenced by a 10.52-second time in the 100-meter dash) makes him a very talented prospect. 

    Unfortunately, inexperience also did plague him at times. His blocking in space for fellow receivers wasn't great. The redshirt freshman also had a bad drop on a pass which would've given UCLA a first down. 

    The potential is there for Massington to develop into one of UCLA's better receivers. With more game experience should come more production.


    Final Grade: B

FB Nate Iese

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    Week 1 Stats: Two catches for 19 yards


    Breaking down Iese's performance

    Although he won't garner a ton of headlines, I thought Nate Iese played exceptionally well.

    Playing as a hybrid fullback/H-back, Iese caught two passes out of the backfield. Iese was able to leak out from a blocking position and run for good yardage.

    I believe he should be utilized more as the season progresses. Not only is he a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, but he can line up at multiple spots on the field and create potential mismatches. Iese also could theoretically be used in short-yardage situations as a runner.

    He gives UCLA an added dimension to the offense it hasn't had during head coach Jim Mora's tenure.


    Final Grade: B+

LB Deon Hollins

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    Week 1 Stats: Three tackles 


    Breaking down Hollins' performance

    Although Deon Hollins didn't put up huge numbers, his impact on the game was considerable. He (along with Owa Odighizuwa) was one of UCLA's best pass-rushers on the day. 

    Hollins' speed off the edge was evident. Although a bit undersized (6'0", 225 pouns), his first step is explosive. Hollins also displayed an array of pass-rushing moves—which included shucking an offensive tackle en route to the quarterback. 

    He did have some problems getting off blocks in the run game. At his size, this likely could remain the case for the duration of the season. Hollins is at his best in passing situations, where he can pin his ears back and get after the opposing signal-caller.


    Final Grade: B+

DB Tahaan Goodman

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    Week 1 Stats: One tackle


    Breaking down Goodman's performance

    UCLA opted to start the game in a 3-3-5 alignment. As a result, the rising sophomore from Rancho Cucamonga, California started as UCLA's fifth defensive back. 

    In the first half, there were times Goodman was caught out of position, which led to some third-down conversions by the Cavs. As a result, freshman Jaleel Wadood assumed his role in the second half.

    As UCLA gets into its conference schedule, a good portion of their opponents will have the propensity to sling the rock with more frequency than Virginia. This will give Goodman more of a chance to contribute.

    In his limited time on the field, I think it'd be unfair to give Goodman a letter grade. 


    Final Grade: N/A

DL Owamagbe Odighizuwa

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    Week 1 Stats: Two tackles 


    Breaking down Odighizuwa's performance

    Of the players on this list, Owamagbe Odighizuwa was the most impressive.

    He virtually lived in Virginia's backfield all day. The Portland, Oregon native utilized brute strength in pushing the pocket into the quarterback's lap. His pressure did force an errant throw—resulting in an interception that was returned for a touchdown. 

    Having Odighizuwa back healthy is huge for UCLA. He, along with Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark make up an extremely potent defensive line. 

    Odighizuwa fails to get an "A" simply for the fact he was unable to register a sack. 


    Final Grade: A-


    Note: All statistics are courtesy of the official UCLA Athletics website unless otherwise noted.