Practice Notes and Mora Video

Thursday's practice continues the fast pace and tempo, Joe Fauria goes down with a hamstring issue, and a few players switch around to new positions...

Thursday's practice was another extremely up tempo affair for UCLA, and, not to gush , but there's just so much more maximization of practice time. In the quarterback drills, where they'd throw to wide receivers running routes, at times five quarterbacks were throwing at once, instead of just rotating one guy. That may sound simple, but it's something that just didn't happen in practice last year.

As I noted yesterday, even the specialists, who previously spent most of the practice hovering on the sideline, are taking part in the majority of practice. When they weren't running as token wide receivers in drills, long snapper Kevin McDermott had them doing medicine ball sit-ups on the sideline.

The injured are doing much more conditioning on the sidelines. If they're able, they're not only biking, but doing situps and core exercises. Again, a simple thing, but a big switch.

Joe Fauria tweaked his right hamstring during the latter half of practice, and sat out the remainder. No details yet on his status, but he spent some time getting treatment and then watched the rest of practice from the sideline.

Greg Capella sat out practice with a calf injury, so Jake Brendel got the majority of the first team snaps. He's still got some work to do with his strength and explosion at the snap, but the word is that the coaching staff (much like last year's coaching staff) like what he brings to the table in terms of knowing what he needs to do and where he needs to be.

In the quarterback competition, it looked like Brett Hundley got the most reps, by a hair. He looked sharper than he did on Tuesday, but still lets the ball sail on some deep throws. Kevin Prince looked better than he did on Tuesday as well, and seems to have gotten over whatever jitters there might have been on the first day. Richard Brehaut was a little off on his short throws, but looked better on his mid range throws.

There's still no real depth chart in place. Each of the quarterbacks got reps in the 11 on 11 and 7 on 7, and there are simply so many more reps to be had that each guy is getting a good amount of work.

T.J. Millweard again had an up and down day. Taking this snapshot, it's going to be hard for him to really compete for playing time based off of what we've seen so far. He's a little inconsistent in his release, which causes some ducks and inaccuracy. Mike Fafaul again looked very good for a walkon, and he has a really quick release. Some of his throws are a little wobbly, but overall, he's been pretty impressive thus far.

Today was the debut of special teams, and it looks like Shaquelle Evans, Andrew Abbott, and Jordon James are all going to get a shot as the punter returner. It looked like only Abbott muffed one, and James actually made a pretty nice over the shoulder catch on one of Jeff Locke's punts. Evans got the first reps, then Abbott, and then James, but the depth chart is fluid there.

Seali'i Epenesa is still getting the majority of the reps at second team nose tackle, but Donovan Carter worked in a bit more today. Brandon Willis is still holding down the first team reps, for the most part, but, again, the depth chart is pretty fluid so Carter and Epenesa both got looks there.

In position changes, as Coach Mora talked about after practice, Librado Barocio got some reps at safety, Damien Thigpen was getting work at running back, and Tre Hale is working as an offensive guard. Wesley Flowers, who was a defensive end a year ago, got a few reps with the 2's and 3's at nose tackle. He is noticeably thicker, and looks like he's done some work on his body.

Thigpen looked very good at running back, and he and Steven Manfro appear to be competing for that scat back role. Manfro again had a really nice practice, and looked very quick and shifty. At one point, he juked Eric Kendricks to the ground on a play that went for a touchdown.

Malcolm Jones did not look very explosive from the running back slot. It's hard to tell with running backs until they're running with pads, so the jury's out. He's still mostly getting the 2nd team reps, with Manfro, Thigpen, and Dalton Hilliard all rotating for the third reps.

Darius Bell, who got more time at the Y due to Fauria's injury, had a very good practice. From what I saw, he didn't drop a single pass, and did a nice job getting open against linebackers and safeties. On one play he fought, and beat, Abbott for a ball on a short pass where he was pretty tightly covered. He's not super fast, but he is showing surprisingly good hands, and looks like he's put some work in on his body in the offseason.

Marcus Rios had a few good moments in practice, but is still a freshman. At times he was out of position in 7 on 7 and in 11 on 11. He's pretty skinny, as well, so he's one guy that'll probably be spending a good amount of the summer in the weight room.

Anthony Jefferson, who's still getting his mobility back after the herniated disc, looks a lot better when he can press up on a guy than when he's playing in space. He had one play where he played up on Devin Lucien and did a very nice job of denying him the ball.

Jason Stewart (thigh contusion) sat out practice, Greg Capella (calf) sat out practice, Brandon Tuliaupupu (hand) sat our practice, and Ricky Marvray tweaked his back but kept playing.




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