Cornerback Ishmael Adams knows what is expected of the
"We heard so much about us being the weak part of the defense," Adams said. "This is just beginning."
It wasn't a bad start.
The Bruins waylaid Nevada, 58-20, Saturday night. The secondary got a look-see during tape sessions Sunday.
"They played well," Coach Jim Mora said. "They kept the ball in front of them, made plays and didn't get out of position."
The flip side, he said, was that "they weren't really challenged. I don't know if it was a real accurate assessment just because the ball wasn't up in the air a whole lot."
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo completed 19 of 32 passes, but for only 164 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass.
Safety Randall Goforth is the only member of the secondary who had started a game before Saturday; he made five starts last year.
"There are going to be growing pains, but they did a good job communicating," defensive coordinator Lou Spanos said. "When the ball was in the air, they did a really nice job of tackling it."
Cornerback Fabien Moreau, in particular, had a solid first start.
"He gets better every time he gets reps," Spanos said. "He's exciting."
Kids are all right?
UCLA used 14 first-year freshmen Saturday. There were some first-game moments.
"On the first play, I got hit with a crack-back block and had a headache the rest of the night," linebacker Myles Jack said. "That was my welcome to college football."
Jack finished with eight tackles, six unassisted.
"I don't know if I got the same receiver, but I was out there seeing if I could give them pain," Jack said.
Defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes had six unassisted tackles.
"We are going to depend on those guys down the stretch," Mora said, "so for us to give them a chance to play was important."
No line dance
UCLA's offensive line, a spit-and-bailing-wire operation in years past, is undergoing a transformation. The quality created by the Bruins' depth — with 11 linemen signed the last two years — began to show.
Nevada did not sack Brett Hundley — the Bruins allowed 52 sacks last season — and the running game amassed 345 yards. The production came with tackle Simon Goines nursing a knee injury and a freshman, Alex Redmond, at guard.
"The expectations are pretty high and I was little nervous because Simon hasn't practiced that much and Alex hadn't been in the rotation," offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said. "After the first series, I could tell we were going to be all right."
Redmond missed part of training camp because of a concussion. His work the last two weeks allowed him to wrest the starting job away from fellow freshman Caleb Benenoch.
"It was hard," Klemm said. "Caleb is a very good player too. But Alex is so ready to play with a violent nature."
UCLA did not have to punt, putting off freshman Sean Covington's debut.
Said Mora: "In the third quarter, I kind of looked at Sean and said, 'You punted yet?' He said 'no.' I said, 'That's a good thing.' He was like, 'Coach if you never see me punting, I'm fine with that.'"