LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA spent the offseason determined to become more physical on both sides of the ball.
One hit by a 294-pound fullback on the first day of training camp Monday indicated the Bruins might be on the right path.
Ainuu Taua bowled over defensive back Keyon Riley after catching a pass in the flat, setting the tone during a spirited practice that showcased a new-look offense and rebuilt defense.
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Coach Jim Mora would rather save such collisions until UCLA is in full pads, but admitted Taua probably didn't have a choice.
''I think he got on track and couldn't get off track at 294 (pounds),'' Mora said. ''But I know the team enjoyed it.''
Quarterback Josh Rosen is getting all the attention after a strong freshman season, including a spot on the cover of the ''Sports Illustrated'' college football preview issue, but it will be players such as Taua and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes that determine whether UCLA can return to the top of the Pac-12 South.
Taua was used sparingly as a defensive tackle last season, transitioning to offense during the spring as UCLA moved away from the spread to a more pro-style scheme that will feature fullbacks and tight ends.
The redshirt sophomore will likely be asked to serve primarily as a lead blocker, but Mora and Rosen are thinking about Taua as a possible option in the passing game because of his soft hands.
''If you keep seeing those types of things out of a guy like Ainuu, you go, `Maybe we'll throw him the ball in the flat and let him turn it up and see if a 180-pound corner wants to tackle a 294-pounder.' I'm sure they will take him low, so he has to learn how to hurdle. He can do that,'' Mora said.
''We're changing up the offense, but we got the pieces to do it,'' Rosen said. ''We're looking forward to being a hassle to scout basically.''
Opposing offenses didn't have to do much to scout UCLA's injury-ravaged defense last season. The Bruins gave up at least 235 yards rushing in five games last season. Southern California and Nebraska combined for 561 yards on 121 carries to end UCLA's season on a two-game losing streak.
The return of Vanderdoes, who tore his ACL in the season-opening win over Virginia, should bolster the defensive line.
While the redshirt junior has missed time because of injuries, his productivity when on the field has never been questioned with 10 total tackles for loss in his first two seasons. Even against the Cavaliers, he totaled eight tackles with two tackles for loss despite finishing the game injured.
''Man, Eddie can be the best 3-technique in college football,'' center Scott Quessenberry said. ''We've seen glimpses of it. Him coming back is a huge X-factor for us.''
Linebacker Kenny Young made a bolder declaration about Vanderdoes' value.
''We are going to win a lot of big games with this big fella,'' Young said.
Mora cited the need to get bigger and stronger up front after going 8-5 in his fourth season, his lowest win total since taking over at UCLA.
The edict seems to have taken hold. Vanderdoes and redshirt senior Eli Ankou each weigh around 320 pounds, giving UCLA the stout presence in the interior of its defense that was missing last season. Ankou added 15 pounds since December and is eager to see UCLA dish out the physicality instead of taking it, especially on the defensive line.
''Everybody's big and it's crazy,'' Ankou said. ''For some guys it is like a placebo effect. They feel bigger so they kind of do better.''