New UCLA assistants deliver NFL experience, different tone

07 May 2022 | 08:42

LOS ANGELES – Entering his sixth year at UCLA, Odua Isibor feels something different this year around spring soccer practice: It feels like a business.

“It’s like we’re here to get something done, to get a job done,” Isibor said. “It’s not like it used to be. But it really feels like a business and I appreciate that.”

The defensive midfielder attributes that to the “NFL presence” that has recently permeated the coaching staff. Head coach Chip Kelly has served as a coach at the NFL level. But last year, the only other coach on the payroll with NFL coaching experience was defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro, who stepped down earlier this year.

During this season, three of the coaches in Kelly’s position coached professionally.

Azzinaro’s replacement, Bill McGovern, coached defense for three NFL teams from 2013 to 2021. Offensive team coach Tim Drevno, who was promoted from an analyst role last year after Justin Frye left for Ohio State, coaching the offensive line for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2013. And Ken Norton Jr., the new defenders coach, was defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks during his coaching career. The NFL spanned more than a decade.

Each of the three has contributed something from their NFL expertise to the college level, which for Kelly is a plus. He pointed Norton and Drevno to diagram ideas from their NFL stops, and Drevno about the techniques he is currently teaching the guards.

“When you have guys like Drev, Ken Norton Jr., Bill McGovern spending time with the National Football League, I think that’s a huge bonus,” Kelly said. “It’s not often that you have that much. We are really lucky that we did. ”

Kelly added that coaches are planning to do “some new things going on in the [the NFL] is flowing down college football. “

“Our coaching team has had some years of coaching experience and we’re trying to capitalize on that defensively, in terms of learning from all of us and figuring some out,” said McGovern. best idea. and put it together. “

One addition the coaching staff made this spring is holding daily coaching sessions, guiding players to learn the reasoning behind the plans and playbooks. It helped defensive players learn McGovern’s style and system.

For Isibor, the walk renewed his memory of what he had learned the day before.

“I feel like these spring coaches are really trying their best to make sure we understand the material,” Isibor said. “It’s like a curriculum. It feels like being in class. We have a pace, a set schedule and they’re really trying to dig the curriculum into our heads so we can be the best players we can be and not have to worry about thinking. think while playing – even though it’s completely defensive.”

Safety Kenny Chuchwell, entering his fifth season at UCLA, has “seen a lot” on the ballpark — but he’s only 22 years old.

“They have experience,” Churchwell said of the coaching staff. “So they can see something that I haven’t seen, and they’re talking about it and now I’m just like, ‘Oh, okay. Now I understand. I understand why you see that. ‘”