LOS ANGELES—UCLA continues to come up just short in getting to the quarterback, finishing with one sack against Arizona State.
The Bruins have only four sacks in four games, with linebacker Deon Hollins’ two leading the team. Next up is a physical Utah team, which has given up eight sacks in four games.
“We’re getting good heat, but we’re not getting as many hits as I would like,” Coach Jim Mora said. “Part of it is individual wins and part of it is putting them in a spot where they can get that one-on-one win.”
Mora hopes the in-season arrival of defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley will help. McKinley committed to California, but was a non-qualifier out of high school. He was attending Contra Costa College when a mistake was found in his transcripts, making him eligible immediately.
UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure wrapped up McKinley in September and he saw limited action against Arizona State.
“He has that one thing you can’t coach, that raw speed off the edge,” Mora said. “We’re missing that right now.”
But, Mora said, “his inexperience showed up” against Arizona State.
McKinley was confident that he could pick up the scheme and the pace.
“With my speed, I can beat the offensive line, work a move, and get to the quarterback,” McKinley said. “Speed kills.”
But he has already learned, “You need to be more disciplined at this level, make sure you keep the outside contain. It’s not like high school, where I could just rush.”
Although the Bruins admit they need to improve their pass rush, defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes said that they have come close.
“We’re collapsing the pocket,” Vanderdoes said. “When you watch the film, we’re almost there. You see Deon is always right there. I get back there. Kenny (Clark) is getting a lot of pressure. (Owamagbe Odighizuwa) is getting there. We’re close.”
UCLA is giving up 313.8 passing yards a game, ranking the Bruins 118th of 128 major college teams. The Bruins are tied for 111th in sacks, averaging one per game.
The Bruins’ secondary has been prepared as a mix-and-match unit, with players able to play safety and cornerback. That flip-flopping was more noticeable against Arizona State.
Safety Anthony Jefferson played more cornerback than he has in previous games. Ishmael Adams played safety, cornerback and nickel back.
It allowed UCLA to use the taller Jefferson against the Sun Devils’ big receivers. Jefferson is 6 feet 1. Adams is 5-8.
“A.J. can play all over the field, right corner, left corner, both safeties,” Mora said. “He’s long and has a long reach. He knows how to play the ball in the air. Against bigger receivers, you can put him out there and he can bump and run.”
UCLA linebacker Kenny Orjioke underwent a surgical procedure on his right knee Tuesday and will miss at least one game. Orjioke, who is part of the Bruins’ linebacker rotation, was injured against Arizona State.
“We thought it was a bruise at first,” Mora said. “It might be something minor or it might be something major. We won’t know until they get in there.”
Guard Alex Redmond, who left the Arizona State game with a left ankle injury, was in a walking boot and did not practice Tuesday.
“Alex will be all right,” Mora said. “He’s a tough guy. His position doesn’t demand a tremendous amount of change of direction. He’s wearing it as precaution.”
Kenny Lacy replaced Redmond against Arizona State.
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