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Who says another winning season won’t be good enough for UCLA? The Bruins


UCLA linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. talks to linebackers (from left) Adam Cohen, Kain Medrano and Darius Muasau at spring practice.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

It doesn’t need to be elite. It doesn’t need to be among the best in the Pac-12. Above average would do just fine.

UCLA’s defense never reached that humble threshold under Jerry Azzinaro, leading to the defensive coordinator’s departure early this year.

Enter Bill McGovern, part of an overhauled defensive staff that also includes new inside linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a and outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe in addition to holdover defensive backs coach Brian Norwood.

Those coaches have some intriguing newcomers. Edge rushers Gabriel and Grayson Murphy, twin transfers from North Texas, were disruptive forces in the spring. Linebacker Darius Muasau, a transfer from Hawaii, could reprise his role as a tackling machine. Linebacker Laiatu Latu, a transfer from Washington, appears ready to return from the neck injury that forced his medical retirement.

A more physically imposing secondary featuring 6-foot-3 cornerback Devin Kirkwood and 6-2 safeties Mo Osling III and Kenny Churchwell III should stop the Bruins from getting beaten so often over the top while snagging more interceptions.

“From what we came into to where we are now with our secondary, our secondary looks like what a secondary should look like,” Kelly said.

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