UCLA defensive line coach says he's leaving the program after one season
UCLA defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a announced on Monday that he has “parted ways” with the Bruins after one season in Westwood.
Kauha’aha’a joined the program in December 2021 after two seasons on staff for UNLV. It’s UCLA’s first staff opening of the offseason after last year saw head coach Chip Kelly drastically overhaul his defensive coaching staff. A report from Bruin Report Online described the departure as “more of a firing by UCLA” as Kelly looks to find the right mixture on defense.
I have parted ways from UCLA to pursue other opportunities. I appreciate the hard work of the players I had the opportunity to coach and the friendships made on the staff!
— Coach Chad Kauhaahaa (@CoachChadK45) January 9, 2023
In the Bruins’ four losses this season, the defense gave up 41 points a game. Things appeared to be trending in the right direction until defensive coordinator Bill McGovern was forced to be away from the team for more than two months with an undisclosed health situation.
Depth along the interior of the defensive line was a major concern. And with Ikaika Malloe coaching up outside linebackers, edge rushers, and defensive ends, the interior of the defensive line was Kauha’aha’a’s to manage.
The Bruins didn’t sign a defensive lineman in the 2022 high school class, opting instead to pull transfers from Harvard (Gary Smith III) and Duke (Jacob Sykes). Smith missed four games. For long stretches, Sykes and Jay Toia were leaned on heavily in the middle of the defense. Things were complicated by the loss of Martin Andrus Jr. just three games into the season. UCLA had walk-on Dovid Magna and former fullback Sitiveni Havili-Kaufusi in the two-deep as a result.
Sykes and Andrus have exhausted their eligibility. Whoever fills Kauha’aha’a’s spot will likely need to turn to the transfer portal for reinforcements.