Good Sports: Flying to the Ball
Published Jul 1, 2009 8:00 AM
All you Bruin football fans who were concerned about the loss of former defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, take heart: The man who has taken Walker's place is not going to shake things up too much.
Chuck Bullough, UCLA's new defensive coordinator, has also served as the Bruins' linebackers coach for the past three years, so he knows the score.
"We're using the same system, because when Coach Walker, Coach [Todd] Howard, Coach [Gary] DeLoach and I got here, we built the playbook together," Bullough says. "So it's the same defense, but now you've got new coaches [Carnell Lake '93, cornerbacks; Tim Hundley, secondary] and you want your coaches to have input. So there are little tweaks here and there."
Throughout spring practice and at the Bruins' spring game at the Rose Bowl on April 25, Head Coach Rick Neuheisel '84 seemed pleased with the defense's efforts. The unit has a nice balance of younger and older guys, Bullough points out, and he sees great promise in many players, including freshmen Aaron Hester, Patrick Larimore, Donovan Carter, E.J. Woods and Damien Holmes, and continued improvement in sophomores such as Akeem Ayers, Rahim Moore and Steve Sloan.
Seniors Reggie Carter, Kyle and Korey Bosworth, Jerzy Siewierski and Alterraun Verner will provide leadership. "We don't have a lot of 'rah-rah' guys. We have workers," Bullough says. "They're ready to play when they step on the field."
Bullough is the son of a football coach, and he knows hard work. A linebacker at Michigan State University, he graduated in 1992 and played professional ball for five years. His first coaching job was at his alma mater, MSU; he also spent five years on the coaching staff of the NFL's Chicago Bears. He was coaching linebackers at Western Michigan University in 2006 when Walker called on him to come to UCLA.
This year's defensive unit will be fundamentally sound and ready to "fly to the ball," Bullough says. "We're going to be a tougher team than we were last year, mentally and physically. The physical part has to do with [conditioning] Coach Mike Linn '93, who has done a great job of getting these guys ready."
So are the Bruins bigger than they were last year?
"Oh, yeah. We weigh a lot more," he says, laughing. "But we haven't lost the speed. You don't want to get too big and too slow."