WATCH: Bo Calvert on UCLA defensive coaching staff, focus on communication

UCLA football defenseman Bo Calvert spoke to reporters after the Bruins’ spring presentation at Drake Stadium on Saturday morning. Calvert spoke about changes to the defensive coaching staff, the impact of the Murphy twins on the edges and his responsibilities as a veteran in terms of communication.


New coaches, new faces together?

Yeah, it’s been good the last two weeks getting close to these guys and seeing how they think, how they work, how they train. Every coach has a different style and philosophy and so on, so it takes a while to build that relationship and I think this spring has been really good to bring all these guys together and be able to work as a group and see how everyone flows together and I think it’s been great, I think we work very well together and it’s nice to be here in front of fans, new sets and to be able to test things.

Main difference between McGovern and Azzinaro in terms of handling things?

Um, I think they’re pretty similar in personality, but obviously Coach McGovern has been mostly more in the NFL and so he runs a lot more of that style stuff, teaches more in those terms and the way he teaches is just obviously a different philosophy. And the way he sees the game, I think it’s always good to have a different perspective, to be able to bring in a guy with that much experience, to just be able to share that knowledge with you. Anyone who has been a coach for so long, a coach for 36/37 years, has a lot of football in them. And so just being able to choose his brain, see how he thinks has been great for us.

Is it hard to grasp?

I think he’s been very good over the spring. Typically in a camp you try to install a lot of stuff, throw a bunch of stuff, see what the guys can figure out, what sticks with us, what works well, what the guys like, what they’re struggling with, and then you kind of come back from there. So I think he throws a lot at us and we’ve adapted well. We obviously still have a lot to work on, but it was nice to be able to see tons of different types of defenses and to be able to play with who we are as a defense, trying to figure that out.

Other players have said McGovern talks to people a lot individually – what did he say to you?

Yeah, I think he’s just a real personal guy, a personal coach. The way he coaches, he likes – obviously he’s the defensive coordinator, so he’s going to be the general talker when he’s coaching in front of the defense – but when he’s pulling you off 1-on-1 he’s very personal. You can tell he pays attention to every rehearsal he watches the movie of the whole practice and he stores that in his brain and every time he sees you in the hallway he gives very coaching advice specific and I think it’s been very good. He’s always kinda tweaking my pass rush and different stuff like that when we’re at lunch or at random times he’ll kind of just stop you and I think that was great to have a guy like that – a brain like that – his way of working.

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The Murphy twins being disruptive and Muasau covering a lot of territory?

Yeah, we got a bunch of new additions on defense. Obviously, the Murphy twins did well, providing plenty of pressure on the edge. And then yeah in the middle we had a few guys coming in and could see them working around each other I think the biggest thing I said was probably just being able to have – with a bunch of new guys on defense and a lot of turnover from last year – just being able to go out and try to work on communication and understanding how guys are playing. It’s the same thing, like I said, it’s the same point before with the coaches, having new coaches. When you have new players you have to understand how that guy thinks, how is he going to react? Because football is first and foremost a game of reactions, so if you can figure out what the guy in front of you is going to do and you behind him can react based on that, that makes you, as a defense, much better .

What is your role in communication?

All the way down?

Yeah, just between guys?

Yeah, I mean, usually an outside backer, you don’t really call the defense or anything like that, it’s more of a middle linebacker. But I would say every guy on the pitch is going to communicate and any guy who sees things – there are no secrets in football, that’s what they say. So if you see something, yeah, you’re going to call it and obviously we say little things here and there on the D line and communicate on the back end and so on. But overall I think what we did really well was just communicate as a whole, the whole defense just being able to talk and see things and be able to make the guys that have had more downs to feel comfortable stepping up and simply communicating on the pitch.

How did you work with Ken Norton Jr.?

Yeah, I haven’t worked with him directly, position-wise, but when we’re in drills, different drills, working on special teams and so on, he’s a great guy. It’s kind of the same as Coach McGovern. Obviously he’s got tons of football knowledge so being able to pick his brains too I’m always sitting next to him in our team defensive meetings and he’s always whispering things, saying stuff and stuff, stuff he sees in the movie and just little things that me, myself, who have only been – this is my coming fifth year – only in relation to him, obviously I don’t know nothing compared to him in terms of scale. So to be able to pick up on the little things and the things that he sees that I don’t really see, to be able to work with him has been great.

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