Datone Jones is impressive in UCLA spring game
UCLA defensive end Datone Jones was certainly aware of what was going on this weekend.
The NFL spent three days collecting top college talent during the draft, including UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price, who went in the second round by Tampa Bay. So Jones, who will be a junior, started his draft campaign Saturday night during the Bruins’ spring game at the Rose Bowl.
Jones had two sacks, recovered a fumble and spent a good portion of the evening in the backfield. He was the marquee player in a scrimmage dominated almost entirely by the defense.
“I’m a monster, I have to make plays,” Jones said. “Everyone knows the draft was this weekend. I’m here to play football as a team, but someday I have to be able to take care of my family.”
A payday does seem to be in Jones’ future, though he hinted that he wouldn’t bolt after his junior year, as Price did —"I love being at UCLA,” Jones said.
His play hardly came as a surprise to UCLA coaches. Jones played in 10 games as a freshman and started all 13 games last season, finishing with four sacks.
“He’s a prototypical NFL defensive end,” defensive line coach Todd Howard said. “He’s 275-280 and runs a 4.6. I think he’s going to have a breakout season.”
The Bruins need someone to fill the Price void, and Jones certainly seems able to plug that gap.
“Brian Price is gone,” defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said. “Someone has to be Brian Price. It is Datone’s turn.”
Jones said Price spoke to him about doing just that.
“He told me he was leaving and that it was up to me to take over,” Jones said. But Jones was quick to add, “this isn’t an individual thing. We play as a team, we play as a unit.”
The Bruins’ defense had a handful of highlight-reel moments, as the new “pistol” offense fired blanks for the most part.
The Bruins had seven sacks. Courtney Viney and Marlon Pollard intercepted passes, with Pollard returning his 84 yards for a touchdown.
It was an offensive display play that was “disappointing,” offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. “For some reason we didn’t play with any fire.”
Prince completed five of 13 passes for 72 yards and had one pass intercepted. Backup Richard Brehaut was three for nine for 34 yards. UCLA’s first- and second- team offenses went three-and-out in 12 of 17 series.
“It wasn’t vintage Kevin,” Coach Rick Neuheisel said “There were some balls he left out there. You only have a certain amount of protection time. When you’re looking down the field and the chances of hitting the pass are small, you can’t afford to do that.”
The Bruins went to the “pistol” this spring to improve their running game, and there were indications of improvement.
Derrick Coleman had 64 yards, 50 coming on one drive that he finished with a four-yard touchdown run. Coleman has looked explosive in the new offense during most of spring practice.
“Everyone tells me this offense is good for me,” said Coleman, who is 6 feet, 231 pounds. “I’m a downhill runner and that’s what they want me to do.”
Johnathan Franklin, the Bruins’ leading rusher with 566 yards last season, had 47 yards rushing, including a one-yard touchdown run.
Kicker Kai Forbath made all four of his field-goal attempts, including a 57-yard kick that had plenty of leg.
“He wanted to try from 60, but we cut him off,” Neuheisel said.
Forbath also made kicks from 34, 44 and 51 yards.
Safety Dalton Hilliard was the only player who left the game because of an injury, as he suffered a sprained left ankle. … Besides Price, the Bruins had two other player drafted, cornerback Alterraun Verner in the fourth round by Tennessee and wide receiver Terrence Austin in the seventh round by Washington. … UCLA had five players sign as free agents, tight end Logan Paulsen (Washington), linebacker Reggie Carter (Seattle), linebacker Kyle Bosworth (Jacksonville), defensive end Korey Bosworth (Denver) and running back Chane Moline (Oakland). … Tight end Ryan Moya will get a tryout with Cleveland and offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani will get a tryout with St. Louis.