Sunday, January 26

Led by Devin Asiasi, football looks to improve tight end play

Redshirt junior tight end Devin Asiasi caught his fifth, sixth and seventh passes of the season against No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday, surpassing his 2018 total of six. Asiasi is averaging 16.3 yards per reception through the first three games of 2019. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

Devin Asiasi caught six passes in his first two years as a Bruin.

The redshirt junior tight end has seven receptions through three games in 2019, but he said Tuesday he still values his role as a blocker.

“(Run blocking) sets the tone for the whole game,” Asiasi said. “You’re coming up and you’re punching that dude right in the mouth first play, you’re setting that tone for the rest of the game. So to me, the running game is just as important as the pass game.”

Asiasi reeled in three passes for a career-high 71 yards in UCLA football’s (0-3) week three loss to No. 5 Oklahoma (3-0) while also helping pave the way for the Bruins’ best game on the ground so far this season. After rushing for 62 yards as a team in each of its first two games, UCLA posted 110 on Saturday.

Despite having just 13 receptions to his name since transferring to UCLA from Michigan, Asiasi said he has tried to take on more of a leadership role for younger players such as freshman tight end Mike Martinez.

“I’m trying to get in (Martinez’s) ear,” Asiasi said. “Whenever I see something that he probably didn’t see on the field and trying to point that out. I’m just trying to be that big brother like the older guys were to me, like Caleb Wilson. Just someone that can give someone that direction, that guidance, in whatever it is. It could be football, it could be school, it could be life, things like that.”

Wilson led all NCAA tight ends with 60 receptions and 965 yards before he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round of April’s NFL Draft. The former Bruin averaged 69.8 yards per game over the course of his three years with UCLA after transferring from crosstown rival USC.

[Related: Caleb Wilson goes pro with Arizona Cardinals, becomes Mr. Irrelevant of 2019 draft]

Both Asiasi and Wilson came to Westwood from different Power Five programs, and while Asiasi’s numbers have not come close to approaching his predecessor’s, the new starting tight end said he is ready to help the Bruins get back in the win column.

“For me, I take (losing) personally, because I don’t want to go out there every weekend and take a loss,” Asiasi said. “I’m looking for ways for us to get better, ways I can help our team succeed.”

Frye sticking with linemen

Justin Frye was promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator in the 2018 offseason, but senior center Boss Tagaloa said the coach is still a major part of the unit’s day-to-day work.

“Every day, (Frye’s) with us all the time,” the center said.

The offensive line has allowed nine sacks that have cost the team a total of 90 yards through the first three games, including 54 against the Sooners. The ground attack has also averaged 78 yards per game after averaging approximately 155 yards per game in 2018.

Tagaloa said the Bruins’ blocking schemes hadn’t changed since last year, but that losing redshirt junior left guard Michael Alves to injury has set the offensive line back a bit early in the season.

“I think last year, everybody’s just bought in and you could tell by the way we were playing,” Tagaloa said. “There are lot of things we have to fix and a lot of young players that have to step in and play now due to injuries and stuff.”


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Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on for the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also currently contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment. Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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  • Richard C

    The offensive game plan should get the tight ends more involved in the passing game — give the defense some additional looks to scheme for on each series.