Jim Mora went in depth into freshmen he thought would have an immediate impact for the UCLA Bruins this 2013 season on Friday afternoon. After an offseason of onboarding a vaunted recruiting class, it appears that some have proved ready for the big stage on Saturday.
“We’re going to play a lot of (freshmen),” said Mora to the media after practice on Friday. “And they’ve earned that right.”
After bringing in a top-10 class, the UCLA coach seems comfortable with throwing the fresh-faced 18-year-olds into the fire. With the purpose of alleviating some of the turnover from the 2012 season, as well as shoring up any deficiencies this UCLA team experienced last year, a plethora of true freshmen could prove valuable on Saturdays this fall.
“I have a feeling this is a pretty darn good class,” said Mora.
The second-year coach went on to list a hearty amount of freshmen who could make an impact in 2013.
“Right now, Caleb Benenoch looks like our starter at right guard,” said Mora. “Kenny Lacy could potentially play a lot at the left guard.”
“Thomas Duarte will certainly have an impact immediately,” continued Mora. “We talked earlier about Kenny Clark being a redshirt guy. But we’ve been doing some different things up front personnel-wise.”
Mora would later list that defensive players Priest Willis, Tahaan Goodman, Myles Jack Deon Hollins, Cameron Judge, Jayon Brown would play a good amount this season. Johnny Johnson, who was recently ruled out for the season due to a shoulder tear, “would have played early if he hadn’t gotten hurt.”
In essence, Mora’s continuing with the same philosophy he embraced last season: Put your best players on the field regardless of experience. While that proved to be ultimately fruitful for the head coach, UCLA was especially inconsistent when young players made up the core of the unit. (The offensive line, which included three freshman and a sophomore, allowed one of the highest sack rates in the country.)
The season begins on Saturday, August 31 against Nevada at the Rose Bowl. (But you already knew that.)