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UCLA could be without linebackers at Memphis


    UCLA head coach Jim Mora, center, yells at a referee during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Hawaii in Pasadena, Calif., Sept. 9.

LOS ANGELES >> UCLA will have to make adjustments for its road game at Memphis on Saturday, but preparing for a 9 a.m. Pacific start time could be the least of the 25th-ranked Bruins’ worries.

The Bruins will be without linebacker Josh Woods for the first half because of a targeting penalty against Hawaii, while linebacker Kenny Young’s status is not clear after suffering a head injury in the 56-23 win over the Rainbow Warriors.

Young was hurt on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Hawaii tight end Metuisela ‘Unga in the first quarter. No targeting penalty was called, and video replay did not review the play. The Pac-12 issued a statement Monday critiquing both non-calls. Pac-12 director of officiating David Coleman’s description of the play during the television broadcast was also rebuked.

Sophomore Krys Barnes replaced Young and finished with a game-high 12 tackles. Redshirt freshman Breland Brandt is likely to get the start in place of Woods.

“It’s just going to be next man up,” defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. “We’ve got guys that have put their time in and now it’s their chance to play. We’ll line up with whoever is there, and hopefully they’ll do a great job.”

Barnes and Brandt will have to help shore up a run defense that is allowing 6.31 yards per carry, worst among Power 5 teams and 124th in the FBS. Hawaii finished with 281 yards rushing, but did much of that damage with the game out of reach. Bradley saw improvement after allowing 382 yards to Texas A&M, but is still troubled by the big plays UCLA is allowing.

“We’re still making too many mistakes,” Bradley said. “It usually comes down to when you get the big plays it’s missed tackles, bad angles, things of that nature.”

Stopping the run will be critical as Tigers head coach Mike Norvell has experience against UCLA from his time as Arizona State’s offensive coordinator. In UCLA’s last game against Norvell in 2015, the Sun Devils ran the ball 46 times for 192 yards and held the ball for 37:47 in a 38-23 win at the Rose Bowl.

Bradley is leaning on films of Norvell’s previous teams as Memphis has played only one game this season. Their trip to UCF was postponed because of Hurricane Irma and is unlikely to be rescheduled. Memphis rushed for 319 yards in a 37-29 win over Louisiana-Monroe, but the season opener was played in driving rain that altered the game plan.

“I’m sure they’ll have new wrinkles,” Bradley said. “I think each and every week everybody does. No one just comes out and plays us the same way.”

It’s just one more thing Barnes will have to account for. The Bakersfield, California, product said he treats every game as if he is starting, and nothing will change with the potential of making his first collegiate start this week.

Barnes felt relaxed while replacing Young, but believes he could have been more focused in on his responsibilities and more aggressive.

“Watching film, you know, I can be way more physical, attack the ball more,” Barnes said. “Just focus on my job while I’m in there, not try to play other people’s positions and help other people out.”

As for adjusting his body clock, Barnes might move up his daily routine later in the week.

“But I still do my same things,” Barnes said.

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