The Bruins have released their latest depth chart from two depths.
UCLA Football announced its 29 starters and 29 alternates for its upcoming game against Bowling Green beginning Monday. Coach Chip Kelly has made it clear that these lineups can change drastically before kickoffs on Saturdays, but at least it’s an insightful look at where things stand for the Bruins right now.
There were some big decisions from Kelly and company. this time, and the All Bruins are here to take them all down.
Sam Marrazzo, now entering his sixth year with the Bruins, is a true center.
When asked how he spent his practice time after the injury, Marrazzo told the media that he was working exclusively as a center. However, this latest double contradicts that by including the veteran as the second left guard, so perhaps he could have added cross-training to his routine over the past two weeks.
Marrazzo missed nearly the entire 2021 season with a couple of serious leg injuries and also did not participate in spring training. Although he has regained full strength from him, he may still have to get back into the lineup.
Duke Clemens did enough last year to secure the starting center job, and center is one of the positions heavy rotations really don’t agree with. Kelly and his linemen have said numerous times that they plan to rotate the most talented offensive linemen regardless of position, but maybe the center doesn’t apply to that mindset.
Perhaps Marrazzo will have a better chance to see the field as the backup left guard rather than backup center. The staff may see putting Marrazzo back in action as more important than having him back at center, or maybe that’s how they decided to format a meaningless deep double for the media.
One of the biggest questions of the offseason was who was going to be Zach Charbonnet’s running mate.
Kelly and running backs coach DeShaun Foster confirmed the team would stick with a two-man backfield, as they have in recent years with Charbonnet and Brittain Brown, Brown and Demetric Felton, and Felton and Joshua Kelley. There was no clear replacement heading into 2022, but Keegan Jones appears to have earned that role this fall.
Both Kelly and Foster praised Jones a lot during fall camp, so this move isn’t a surprise this late in the game.
But given that Jones rushed for just 66 yards on 26 carries in 2021, he’s far from the proven product that Brown was last year.
However, Jones is averaging more than 10 receiving yards for his career, and his speed makes him a weapon with untapped potential, to be sure. His entry into the depth of two could herald a different style of two-man backfield because of those talents, since he’s not the same running back Brown was a year ago.
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The coaching staff said they loved having Charbonnet and Brown last year because they were interchangeable skill-wise and could disguise calling and substitution packages more easily that way. Jones isn’t the great running back that Charbonnet is, so Kelly and Foster will probably have to change how they use the second running back, from the type of plays they run to the number of snaps they get.
Unsurprisingly, Ale Kaho and Damian Sellers were left out of the two safeties, with the former still in a boot and the latter not even making the list.
That not only moves bi-sport star JonJon Vaughns into a starting spot, but it also moves other names further up the depth chart.
Choe Bryant-Strother only transitioned from running back in the spring, and he’s already in line for the fourth-most snaps among linebackers. Shea Pitts is in her sixth year and, having finally landed a scholarship in the spring, she’s ready to contribute in a much bigger role this year.
The interesting addition is Carson Schwesinger, who is another assistant in his second year at UCLA. The hometown product is a bit small for a rotation linebacker, but given the missing bodies up top, he thinks he’ll see the field, at least a little, when the season starts on Saturday.
Somehow, the most compelling positional battle of fall camp has been the starting kicker spot.
For most of August, it seemed like kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira had it locked in, taking first-team reps for nearly all of fall camp. However, once the Bruins began to enter game week, rookie Chase Barry began to pick up the slack.
It turns out that Barr-Mira has been named the starter, both as a kicker and kicker.
Barr-Mira has slightly more hang time and kick power than Barry, but is much more consistent of the two. If Barry can work out the problems in his game and put the first-year jitters behind him, he can surely take over in the near future, but he’ll have to get past Barr-Mira to do so.
Speaking of punts, Jake Bobo was listed as the starting punt returner over Logan Loya. From what the team has run in the open portions of practice, Loya appears to be the starter, with Kazmeir Allen backing him up, followed by Bobo. It would be a bold move to have a 6-foot-5 starting outside receiver instead of the sure-fire slot receiver, but it looks like Kelly is poised to do so on Saturday.
The full depth chart can be viewed here:
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