UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview 2018: Defensive Line

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner /
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PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 21: Royce Freeman
PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 21: Royce Freeman /

Tagaloa and Rogers should be the primary nose tackles in this offense. Neither are textbook NTs in the 3-4 but they won’t need to be 325 pounds plus in order to play. Tagaloa has struggled to be stout against double teams which is a small problem. He needs to learn to play with better leverage and anchor more effectively. Rogers showed promise as a freshman last season and while his pass rush is still limited to a bullrush he’s a stout option that could develop well into an active interior lineman.

One guy that could steal some of those NT snaps is Nnoruka. Before the 2017 season Nnoruka was seen as a reserve player but he saw more and more time as the season wore on. Powerful and showing off a good burst, Nnoruka routinely found himself in the backfield after being interior linemen. He’s also not a true NT but Oghobaase might look past that if he continues his disruptive ways.

Here are the two most questionable fits for me in this new defense. Andrus has some power but could struggle as a two gap player which is what he will be required to do. As a 4-3 DT he was able to anchor effectively and being 6’1 gives him a natural advantage in the leverage department. We will see how well he transitions to the new defense but he doesn’t have the length for one of the DE positions meaning he is going to have to really adapt to see playing time in this defense.

Odighizuwa is another guy who could have trouble seeing the field. He will be in the two deep for the DL at both end positions but doesn’t have the length outside that the coaching staff prefers for the position. He and Nnoruka are going to be the top reserves.

There will also be a few possible early enrollees along the DL who should be in line to participate during Spring.

  • Baraka Beckett, 6’4, 275 pounds.
  • Steven Mason, 6’8, 250 pounds.

While Beckett could see himself on the offensive line, what I saw on tape is a player who has the tools and attitude for the DL. Long and physical, Beckett gives the Bruins depth along the line as well. Mason might be tall but he’s also lean and you’d like to see him add weight onto his frame to avoid being overpowered at the point of attack. Still, he fits the profile for what this team wants along the DL and will slowly earn time if he adds weight.

Next: UCLA Football Spring Practice Preview: Offensive line

The whole UCLA Football defense is getting a new look. Speed, aggression and gang tackling will be major points of emphasis moving forward. Bruin fans would love to be able to use those words to describe this defensive line instead of some of the others they’ve used the past few seasons.