Alexandru Ceachir is now with the second team at guard. Switching to guard from tackle has been a bit more of an adjustment than anticipated. When he can find the proper guy to block, he's hitting well and playing with some ferocity, but there are still some differences in footwork and scheme that are causing him some issues. With him on the second team, Albert Cid has moved back to work with the ones at right guard, and Jeff Baca has flipped over to left guard.
Johnathan Franklin sat out practice after suffering a knee injury on Tuesday, which Mora talks about in the video. With him out, Malcolm Jones got the first team reps and again had a pretty good day. He's now had two straight days where he's run much stronger. Steven Manfro again looked good. He, Hilliard, and Damien Thigpen all got reps with the second team, but Manfro probably took the most. He looks extremely quick, and at his height, he's proving hard to tackle, with his low center of gravity.
Ricky Marvray again sat out practice, and as coach Mora said, it's a bit of a disc issue in his back. He was on crutches to keep him from stressing the disc. Jerry Rice Jr., who sat out practice after falling on his collarbone yesterday, had X-Rays which showed no fracture. He was in a sling.
Thigpen hasn't shown the greatest hands out of the back field, or just catching technique in general, which might explain the move away from the F for him. He had a few plays where he really struggles to put his hands on a couple of well thrown balls during receiver drills.
Devin Lucien seems to be developing into a leader for the receiving corps. Even before Coach Yarber, he'll be telling guys where routes should go, or giving them a pat on the back when they do well. For a redshirt freshman, he seems very mature. Coupled with his receiving skills, and overall effort, he's a good guy to have leading the group.
On the flip side, Shaquelle Evans seems like focus might be an issue for him. He tends to go into coasting mode occasionally, and on Thursday, dropped a few balls where he just didn't look the ball into his hands. He ran one route into a bag (that was acting as a linebacker). He might be a project for the coaching staff in terms of getting him to adjust to the new coaching staff and culture.
I'd be remiss not to talk about the quarterbacks, but once again there wasn't any real separation. Kevin Prince had one of his off days, where he looked like he was trying to aim the ball more than just throw it, and he also stood and took a few sacks during 11 on 11, but that was also due to some poor snapping and route running. Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley both looked good overall, taking the primary reps during team drills. In the 11 on 11, Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel took the reps with the 1's, primarily, while Prince and Hundley took reps with the 2's.
Patrick Larimore has looked good in practice, and is playing much more physically, and meaner, than he has in the past. Even during 7 on 7's, when it wasn't necessarily full tackle, he was laying into guys.
Tre Hale, after having a near flawless day on Tuesday, came back to earth with his snapping on Thursday. He had a few botched ones to both Hundley and Prince. Still, in 1 on 1's, he proved why he's getting the second team reps. He's built pretty short and stocky, and so against Brandon Willis and Seali'I Epenesa during the 1 on 1's, he was able to get his pad level very low and block. He might be a candidate to actually crack the two deep at guard when Greg Capella gets back.
Anthony Barr also sat out practice after having some hamstring issues on Tuesday. With Jordan Zumwalt still out with his stomach issue, the second string outside linebackers were Ryan Medina and Aaron Wallace. Maybe it's just the use of the position in the offense, but both looked good rushing from that spot.
A big question for UCLA is going to be where a third cornerback comes from. Right now the competition seems to be between Anthony Jefferson and Marcus Rios, and after today, it looks like Rios could be winning. Jefferson is having a really tough time keeping up with receivers after he can't body them up. Rios has come on strong over the last two practices, and seems to be finally getting his feet under him.
Donovan Carter worked in with the first team at nose tackle a couple of times, but primarily, Willis again got the most reps, with Epenesa primarily the second team guy. As Coach Mora said in the post game, Cassius Marsh went down with an ankle injury, but it shouldn't be serious. In his place, Owamagbe Odighizuwa (who's having a very good spring) took the reps with the first team.
There was a fun moment during linemen one on one's where the two 56's, Xavier Su'a-Filo and Datone Jones squared off. In his first really great moment of the spring, Su'a-Filo completely dominated Jones, first pushing him back about ten yards, and then, when Jones demanded a rematch, standing him up at the line.
Darius Bell continues to be a surprise. He made probably the catch of the practice on a poorly thrown ball during 7 on 7 where he twisted his body to make a one handed (or, sort of one elbow) grab. He also toasted Anthony Thompson on a deep route during 1 on 1's.
Oh, and the most important note of the spring, which I've forgotten to mention: the spray-painted yellow PVC pipes that were tied to the north fence of Spaulding to denote field goal goalposts, that looked like something from a poorly funded middle school, have finally been taken down. Culture change.
Practice Notes, Mora Video
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