UCLA Bruins star linebacker Anthony Barr left Tuesday’s practice early with what several outlets described as a possible head injury.
Details are very limited at this time, but a concussion would jeopardize Barr’s availability for a Week 1 date against Nevada.
If any Bruin unit is to lose players to injury, linebacker is best suited to sustain loss. UCLA is young up front and has been ravaged in the secondary, but boasts arguably the best linebackers corps in the Pac-12 with Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt joining Barr.
Still, losing Barr against Nevada’s explosive Pistol offense presents a unique challenge for defensive coordinator Lou Spanos in preparation for the Aug. 31 season opener.
Slowing the read-option elements this current incarnation of the Pistol utilizes requires a fleet-footed and athletic outside presence. Few outside linebackers in college football fit this description quite as aptly as Barr.
What happens when the defender assigned for containment is unable to immediately snuff out the read-option? Cody Fajardo made an example of another Pac-12 team, Cal, and Chris McCain in last September’s season opener.
Barr on the sidelines likely throws freshmen Myles Jack and Deon Hollins into the fire against Fajardo, one of the nation’s more seasoned dual-threat quarterbacks. Jack and Hollins are both highly touted recruited, and Barr himself gave Jack a stamp of approval per Inside UCLA’s Jack Wang.
He is 30 pounds lighter than devastating tackler Barr, and lacks collegiate experience. Conversely though, it’s worth noting that Barr was a largely unheralded, converted running back this time last year.