UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview 2018: Tight Ends

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Caleb Wilson /
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PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 09: Caleb Wilson /

Continuing our Spring Practice preview we move onto the tight end group for the UCLA Football Bruins. It’s another offensive group loaded with talent that will add even more wrinkles to an already potent offense.

I have a feeling that as we get closer to the start of the 2018 season we are going to see more and more ironic situations surrounding the UCLA Football team with Chip Kelly in charge. Jim Mora, before being ousted as head coach, was obsessed with beating a Stanford Cardinal team that beat up on a smaller Bruin team. His response? Get bigger, get stronger and let’s get some real tight ends in this offense.

UCLA, from 2012-2015, really minimized the TE position to suit the spread attack employed by Noel Mazzone. In fact they didn’t even have one on the roster with Nate Iese functioning as a FB and Thomas Duarte an oversized WR. So in 2016 when Kennedy Polamalu was named the offensive coordinator, Mora sought to fix that by bringing in Rip Scherer as the TE coach. The first task he had to complete? Find some TEs. Iese was moved to what is his more natural position of TE and oversized receiver, Austin Roberts moved from WR to TE.

Related Story: UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview: Wide Receivers

The Bruins also began to heavily recruit complete TEs in an effort to replicate the success the Cardinal have had at the position and to allow them to deploy a variety of formations with the same personnel.

Fast forward two years and now the Bruins have a collection of one of the most talented tight end groups in maybe the entire country and not one of the aforementioned coaches is still under contract with UCLA.

So now we have Chip Kelly, a man who had legendary battles with Stanford and whose name doesn’t evoke memories of great TEs, blessed with a group that was brought in by his predecessor in order to beat those Stanford teams at their own game.

Still with us? Good because if you’re thinking Kelly doesn’t utilize the TE I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

First off, Kelly does utilize the TE. He might go four wide but only one of them might be a WR. How do you defend that? With linebackers? Perfect he’ll attack you with a deadly passing attack and the LBs will lose. Throw in some extra DBs to counter the TE passing attack and he will smash you with big bodies in the run game.