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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

May 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Review of Pac-12 spring-football camps: Part 5 — UCLA

We continue our glimpse at Pac-12 spring camps. Today, UCLA, which comes off an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game for the second straight year.

Starters returning – 11 (6 offense, 5 defense) plus PK Ka’imi Fairbairn.

Refresher on 2012 – Bruins got an early upset over Nebraska, pieced together a mid-season five-game winning streak (scoring 155 points over three games against the Arizona schools and Washington State) highlighted by a benchmark victory over USC. They crashed the Pac-12 title game and played Stanford to the wire but then got smoked by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, 49-26.

Coaching changes – To replace Marques Tuiasosopo, who returned to the staff of his alma mater at Washington, UCLA elevated GA Taylor Mazzone to receivers coach. He’s the son of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.

Major spring concerns – Sorting out backup QB spot behind Brett Hundley . . . finding a replacement for RB Johnathan Franklin . . . patching a secondary where there are heavy losses.

Developments – Hundley, who threw for 29 TDs with 11 interceptions in ’12, played like a star in the making, eliciting this from coach Jim Mora: “He’s a totally different kid than he was a year ago. He knows his ceiling is high and he works his tail off to try to get there. He never has a bad day, never has a bad meeting. He’s a great leader. Even though he’s a young guy, everybody looks up to him.” . . . the backup spot is wide open, and the competition includes ex-coach Rick Neuheisel’s son Jerry . . . a committee including fourth-year junior Jordon James (5-9, 193) likely will take over for Franklin, who rushed for 1,734 yards in 2012 . . . LB Anthony Barr, who probably would have been a first-round NFL pick, thought he improved in pass defense . . . soph LB Kenny Orjioke had a good spring as did OL Ben Wysocki . . . among those who will get looks in the fall at the OLB spot is Bellevue High signee Myles Jack . . . Mora said he sees a bit of Seahawk Percy Harvin in soph receiver Devin Fuller, who caught 20 passes last year and could see some wildcat formations . . . OL Alberto Cid announced his retirement after a concussion problem . . . NT Brandon Tuliaupupu, who originally committed to Washington State, tore an ACL and figures to miss the season . . . S Dietrich Riley, who hasn’t played since 2011, should be back to anchor the secondary after having neck surgery, before which he consulted with Broncos QB Peyton Manning . . . S Marcus Rios will likely miss the ’13 season with a rare fungus infection in his sinus area that has already required six surgeries . . . Mora didn’t hesitate to underscore his, and his staff’s, NFL experience at every turn . . .  Mora: “The thing I like about this team is, they’re so hungry. People pat them on the back and say, ‘Great year’ after nine wins, and there’s not one of them that’s satisfied.”

Spring game – In front of a crowd UCLA estimated at 20,000 – which would be second among Pac-12 spring games to Oregon – Hundley completed 16 of 23 for 179 yards and two scores.

2013 schedule – Bruins have a testy game at Nebraska Sept. 14, then open with three of their first four in league on the road, including Stanford and Oregon back to back Oct. 19-26. They miss Washington State and Oregon State.

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