The UCLA Bruins practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on Thursday, the 10th. Karl Dorrell noted in the Daily Bruin that the players had hit the point of being sore and tired, so shedding some equipment was intended to provide some relief.
The main focus of the practice was on the passing game, although there were a few running plays during the scrimmage at the end of practice.
The quarterbacks, wider receivers s and running backs continue to look good throwing the ball. All of the QBs are willing to take what the defense is giving on almost every play, and they all threw the ball well today. There were numerous check downs to tight ends over the middle, to the tailback over the middle, and to the running backs in the flat. Tyler Ebell and Manuel White have shown excellent hands all spring long. Both catch the ball with their hands and adjust to the ball excellently.
The wide receivers are mastering the double-move patterns that were so rarely seen in the prevent, errrrrr, previous offensive scheme. Again, Craig Bragg just jumps out for his ability to sell the slant and then get vertical up the sideline. He hauled in multiple bombs off this pattern today, drawing applause and appreciative oooohhhhs from the 100+ fans in attendance at Spaulding on one spectacular diving catch in the end zone from John Sciarra on a ball thrown a little short and to the inside.
On defense, the player that stood out today was Spencer Havner, the returning Will ‘backer. Spencer made numerous plays in the passing game today, returning one pick of a pass over the middle for six, reminiscent of his TD vs. Oklahoma State.
At the two-thirds point of the spring schedule, the walking wounded are noticeable. The best news was seeing C.J. Niusulu walking of his own power during the practice, albeit very stiffly. Niusulu has torn lateral meniscus in his left knee and will have arthroscopic surgery on Friday, but the ACL is not torn. The hope is that CJ will be ready to go in the fall.
Patrick Pierre-Louis had his left arm in a sling and did not practice. No word on how serious his injury is.
Thursday saw a large turnout by members of the incoming UCLA class: Joe Cowan was there with (possibly) his brother, QB Patrick Cowan, and other members of the Bosco Posse. Junior Lemau'u was on the field all day with Kevin Brown, following Don Johnson around from drill to drill.
Another memorable incoming recruit in attendance on Thursday was Bruce Davis, courtesy of the Houston area. His family was with him, including his father, former NFL and UCLA Bruin lineman, Bruce Davis Sr. Bruce Davis looks like a good potential linebacker.
Recruits in attendance included the A-Dog, Aaron Ware, in tow with the "A-bro" version of osoazules. There were three or four kids from Mater Dei in attendance—shhhhhh, don't tell Rollo….and OL/DL from Diamond Bar, Ryan Wendell, who said he had scholarship offers from multiple Pac-10 schools. His mom was with him and apparently this was his second visit to a spring practice.
The most striking part of the day occurred after practice ended, in another sign of how different things feel with Karl Dorrell at the helm.
Don Johnson was talking with his D linemen near the center of Spaulding Field. But he spied Bruce Davis slowly leaving the stands, unsure about what to do; so Coach Johnson called out to Bruce and his family and had them join them on the field.
After a while, about 15 current Bruins remained on the field, mingling with the UCLA coaches, incoming players, recruits, and family members of all concerned, as well as media and UCLA administrators. Rodney Leisle draped an arm over Coach Johnson's shoulder as they spoke to the contingent from Mater Dei; Eric Bieniemy visited with recruit Wendell and his mother; Aaron Ware and Matt Clark welcomed Bruce Davis to Westwood; the Davises took a picture of Eric McNeal and their son Bruce together (the McNeals and the Davises being long-time family friends); Matt Moore and his father put their heads together in the bleachers; Tyler Ebell visited with his parents and toddler sisters; Xavier Burgess and Justin London made their way over to friends in the stands; Karl Dorrell worked the crowd, dragging Aaron Ware from group to group.
Meanwhile, Justin Medlock practiced kicking 40 to 50 yarders along with a holder and snapper for 30 minutes after practice…
With one week left of spring practice, the base systems installed, the execution level high, the confidence level increasing, there is a positive glow emanating from this Bruin family.
The BRO contingent was a large and storied one: NealK (with Travis Collier in tow) appeared as promised, but alas, didn't find us until the end of practice. SamoRed and BlueMood were also in attendance, and along with CarsonBruin were the straw that stirred the BRO brew. Other regulars were DEJA, SOW, hk and Prof…