If the official depth chart is any indication, UCLA’s 2013 team will continue the trend towards youth established on last season’s squad.
Just one year removed from using 12 first-year freshmen, head coach Jim Mora Jr. plans to use 17 of his 25 true freshmen on the field this season.
Per Chris Foster of the L.A. Times, Mora raved about the newest class of Bruins Friday, saying that his sense about them is that playing early is “not too big for them.”
Mora’s confidence shows. 19 true freshmen are slated on the depth chart for the Bruins’ week one game against Nevada, eight of which offensive players. One, offensive guard Caleb Benenoch, is expected to start. Though the depth chart reads that Benenoch’s starting position is not solidified – his competition is fellow true freshman Alex Redmond – all indications from UCLA’s coaches and from Foster have been that Benenoch has earned the job.
Offensively, how UCLA’s youth plays alongside sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, who is expected to launch his dark-horse Heisman campaign this weekend, is the big question. In addition to one true freshman starting on the offensive line, Hundley will likely be targeting three first-year freshmen pass catchers: Thomas Duarte, Darren Andrews and Jalen Ortiz, who respectively play the Y, Z and F positions and will factor in the rotation of skill players UCLA uses.
These young targets will be more vital than ever in 2013. After losing starting running back Johnathan Franklin to the NFL, who accounted for over 146 all-purpose yards per game last season, this new Bruins offense is expected to be more of a showcase of Hundley’s talents in the up-tempo offense UCLA makes use of, which requires a frequent rotation of receivers for fresher legs.
With the inundation of offensive talent pervading both the internal and perimeter groups, building an extensive repertoire between the youth and the established starters early in the season will be one of the most important factors for the Bruins if they want to return to their third straight Pac-12 Championship.