Secondary offers depth, certainty for Bruins
While answers remain elusive on offense for UCLA, there appear to be some rock-solid certainties on defense.
Nowhere does that seem more evident than in the secondary, where depth and skill flourish at safety. Rahim Moore, who started 12 games last season, and Aaron Ware return at free safety. Strong safety has been a competition between Glenn Love and Tony Dye. E.J. Woods, a free safety, has made inroads at both positions.
Moore and Love are expected to be starters, joining cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Aaron Hester.
“I like to say they’ve meshed unbelievably well and that’s the reason we’re not doing very well on offense,” Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
The competition has allowed for some mixing and matching, with Dye and Woods getting work at free safety.
“We came into spring with a sense of comfort ability, with everyone having spots,” Dye said. “But when [secondary coach Tim] Hundley said everything was open for business, everyone started flying around hitting.”
While the cornerback spot is not as deep, Verner is a two-year starter and Hester has had an exceptional spring.
“I do believe we have the making of a very solid and successful secondary,” Neuheisel said.
QB or not to be?
Quarterbacks Osaar Rasshan and Chris Forcier have both moved to wide receiver, and both are long shots at their new position.
Rasshan will be a senior in the fall, leaving him little time to develop or impress coaches. Even Neuheisel said, “I don’t rule anything out, but I see where it would be problematic.”
Forcier has three years of eligibility remaining, but the Bruins have a stack of receivers ahead of him.
Forcier has boycotted talking to the media after a tumultuous off-season. He was given his release to seek a transfer, but has been unable to find a school that wanted him as a quarterback, and agreed to change positions before spring practice.
“Certainly you take your hat off [to him] for being willing to do things to help the team,” Neuheisel said.
“But you can’t just reward the great effort and slow down the team to create playing time, if it is not merited. You just have to be honest and see how it goes.”
As to whether Forcier would still be around come August, Neuheisel said that was an “individual decision” and that he would meet with Forcier after spring practice.
Center Jake Dean left practice with a left ankle injury, leaving the Bruins woefully thin at the position.
Kai Maiava, the No. 1 center, injured his ankle during Friday’s scrimmage and will be out two weeks. Ryan Taylor is the third center.