Snapping the football is quickly becoming a serious issue, with Greg Capella still out with his calf injury. Today, both Jake Brendel and Tre Hale struggled snapping the ball, seeming to snap it wide of the quarterback frequently. They had such a tough time, in fact, that Jeff Baca slid over during a couple of drills to handle the snaps (and actually did a decent enough job for a guy who hasn't snapped a ball in years). The bad snaps have a tendency to kill tempo, which is obviously a huge issue for the coaching staff.
Wade Yandall, who's slowly been eased back into practice after some concussion issues, took about half of his snaps with the first team during team stuff, and the other half with the second team. He actually looks pretty good for a guy who hasn't practiced with contact in five or six months. When Baca was at guard, he took over at the other guard slot with Cid sliding down to the 2‘s, but when Baca was moved to center, both Yandall and Cid were with the first team.
The injured remained much the same. With the running backs a bit depleted, Malcolm Jones again started the practice getting the 1st team reps, and Steven Manfro got the primary reps with the 2's. Jones continued with his string of good play, running strong between the tackles. If there's one thing he needs to work on, it's pass blocking. Not to give anyone PTSD about the previous coaching staff's infatuation with using skill players as blockers, but a couple of would be sacks during 11 on 11 were due to Jones missing a block, or misreading who he was supposed to block.
The defensive front seven looked very good rushing the quarterback during 11 on 11, but got taken advantage of by a few runs. Manfro and Damien Thigpen both looked good slicing through the defense. Thigpen doesn't look like he's lost much of a step after sitting out last year.
As Mora mentioned on Thursday, Darius Bell had a quad strain, and he was out of practice again on Saturday. With Bell, John Young, and Joe Fauria out, Jordan Barrett was the primary Y.
In the Oklahoma drill at the beginning of practice, which they've taken to doing to open up practice, Datone Jones got absolutely pancaked by Alexandru Ceachir, where it looked like Ceachir was clearly stronger. Jones has had a bit of an underwhelming camp so far, though part of that is that defensive end in this defense isn't as much of a playmaking position.
In the quarterback competition, Richard Brehaut probably won the day. During 11 on 11, it really looked like the defensive front was having their way with UCLA's offensive line. Kevin Prince struggled dealing with the pressure, Brett Hundley was a little better, but not great. Brehaut, on the other hand, really seemed to do well under pressure. At least in this one snapshot, he seems to be the best at going through his progression quickly, rather than locking on to a guy.
He also had probably the best individual play of the 11 on 11, where he had a nice pump fake that froze the defensive backs, and then hit Roosevelt Davis down the sideline over Anthony Thompson.
All four of the top quarterbacks looked good when there was no pass rush. During the individual drills, with receivers matched up against defensive backs, the quarterbacks and receivers put on a show for the crowd. Jerry Johnson made two one handed catches that, in a switch from Nelson Rosario, almost looked like they had to be one handed catches. He closed the period with one that he hooked into the crook of his elbow while falling sideways in the corner of the end zone.
Johnson had by far his best day of practice, and looks like he's starting to regain confidence in his own abilities, after a few years of injuries and being in the doghouse with the previous coaching staff. And looking at him, he really does have one of the better bodies for a receiver on this team. With him, Devin Lucien, Shaquelle Evans, and a healthy Ricky Marvray, UCLA has to be happy with its top four wide receivers.
Brandon Sermons got some work with the 1's after Aaron Hester got a little dinged up, and had one of his better practices. He struggles some in man coverage, especially against a guy like Johnson or Lucien, but he has decent enough instincts, and had a nice pick during 7 on 7 that he would have returned for a touchdown.
The safety two deep is getting interesting, in a not so great way. Today, at various points, Librado Barocio and Dylan Price were running with the second string, which shows you exactly how depleted things are. Unfortunately for the safeties, Dalton Hilliard seems to be getting better and better running the football, although he did fumble once during 11 on 11.
There were some one on one's with the linebackers covering F's and Running backs on pass plays. One big thing that stood out is that Aramide Olaniyan looks much better in space than he did a year ago. Last year, if you remember, the one place he could see the field (despite being about 215 pounds) was defensive end, because he had issues in space. But during drills, he covered decently well, and actually picked a ball off at one point.
Tyler Scott, a walk on wide receiver, has actually looked pretty good during camp, and Coach Yarber seems to have taken a liking to him. He's gotten heavy snaps with the 2's, and has pretty good hands. He's a little slow, and looks like he could get leaner, but he has some ability.
Coach Mora wasn't available after practice, so there won't be video with him today.
Saturday Practice Report
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