Monday, March 30

Football grows in confidence going into second year under Chip Kelly

Sophomore cornerback Darnay Holmes said UCLA football's offseason was the toughest he has experienced in three seasons with the team. Holmes recorded 48 tackles and three interceptions for the Bruins in 2018. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

The Bruins are back on the gridiron.

UCLA football held its first of 14 spring practice sessions Tuesday morning, and sophomore cornerback Darnay Holmes said the team is fired up to be back on the field following a long offseason.

“I would say it was the toughest offseason because we toned it up a notch,” Holmes said. “We (weren’t) too happy about our record last year, so this year, every time we hit that field we have that in the back of our minds. So we just make sure we ain’t cheating ourselves and not cheating our team.”

The Bruins finished 3-9 despite an 0-5 start to coach Chip Kelly’s first season in Westwood, but the year was one defined by missed opportunities and costly mistakes.

While UCLA spent the entirety of the season getting used to Kelly’s up-tempo system, the team’s inability to grasp the full playbook came back to bite it on Saturdays when miscommunication and bad penalties wreaked havoc.

The Bruins, however, now have a full year of experience under Kelly, and junior center Boss Tagaloa said he thinks the coach has a better understanding of what he envisions for the roster heading into his second season.

“Last year at this time, it was just (Kelly’s) first spring,” Tagaloa said. “He didn’t know what to expect from a lot of players. Having a whole year now with us, I think he’s pretty familiar with what our strong suit is, and what guys he wants to work with.”

Tagaloa, like Kelly, is also entering his second season at a new position.

The junior transitioned from the defensive line to the center spot last spring upon Kelly’s arrival. Tagaloa said while he knew the move would be tough on him, he has no regrets looking back on his decision – especially after redshirt junior running back Joshua Kelley ran for 1,216 yards in nine games with him under center.

“I knew it was going to be different, I knew it was going to be a challenge,” Tagaloa said. “It felt like it was the right move talking to my parents and so far I think it’s worked out pretty well.”

Tagaloa also said he is feeling more confident going into his second year as the team’s starting center, but added he still thinks there is plenty of room for improvement in his game.

“I don’t want to say comfortable, but I just feel like I know a lot more having a whole year under my belt,” Tagaloa said. “Still learning every day, but came out today knowing my place pretty well so I just got to keep building on that, stay in the film room, and keep doing what I do.”

UCLA has another six weeks of spring practice before the team’s annual intrasquad game that marks the end of spring camp. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 20 at Drake Stadium.

Sports Senior Staff

Smith is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the football and men's basketball beats. He was the 2018-2019 Sports editor and an assistant Sports editor in 2017-2018. Smith was previously on the women's basketball, men's water polo, baseball, men's golf and women's golf beats.

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