The scrimmage really wasn't much of a scrimmage, as Coach Mora said on Thursday. Instead of doing a full on, 80 play scrimmage or something, the team did mostly situational work in a live format.
The team started off the practice doing kickoff drills, and at least for today, Jordon James and Steven Manfro were the two kick returners. James was the first returner, and Manfro was with the second team. Only two of the four kicks were returnable, with James catching his, and Manfro catching the other (both underhanded).
The first real scrimmage part of the practice began with each quarterback getting a drive from the "20" (on the 80 yard practice field, think of it as the 40). First up was Kevin Prince, working with the 1's. Prince had a keeper on his first play that didn't go for much, and then threw a touchdown pass to a streaking Manfro down the sideline that went for a touchdown. It looked like a blown coverage, but Prince threw the ball well enough. Prince got another set of reps to end the period, and looked shakier then, going three and out with a bad overthrow of Evans on a slant.
Then Richard Brehaut had a seven play drive, hitting several nice short passes to a mixture of receivers, including Tyler Scott, Roosevelt Davis, and Sam Handler, before scoring a touchdown on a swing pass to Manfro. Manfro 2, Everyone Else 0.
Brett Hundley had a fairly ignominious first drive. It started with three straight runs for little gain and was capped with a pretty bad interception to Patrick Larimore on a seam pass to Shaquelle Evans that was thrown a little too short. During a later period of 11 on 11, which was a hurry up, two minute drill, Hundley looked better, hitting Evans on a couple of passes during a six play drive that ended with a well thrown seam to Evans for a touchdown.
The quarterbacks each took turns during practice throwing interceptions over the middle, with Prince and Brehaut throwing theirs during an overtime period at the end of practice, where the offense practiced scoring from the 25. Prince's might have been more forgivable, because Eric Kendricks made a great jump on the ball, but Brehaut's was a little ugly, hitting Ryan Hofmeister on a slant that was well short of where it needed to be.
It's hard to rank the quarterbacks after a day like today, because they all had decent moments moving the ball, and then took turns making really poor decisions or throws. Despite the interception (which came in the last minute of practice), Brehaut probably looked the best overall, but not by much. Hundley looked a little jumpy during the scrimmage periods. UCLA not only piped in crowd noise for the practice, but also loud music to keep the pressure and energy up.
After practice, both Mora and Noel Mazzone were cagey about the quarterback situation, but you have to figure they're starting to wonder if they'll have a "guy" by the end of spring, as they'd hoped. Mike Fafaul and T.J. Millweard did not get team reps today, and Jerry Neuheisel didn't get as many 11 on 11 reps, but there wasn't much paring down beyond that. Unless something big changes in the next six practices, this three horse race may carry on until the fall.
The situations practiced during practice were full drives, 3rd and 1 from the 31, 2 minute drill, overtime, and goal line. Hundley looked his best during the 2 minute.
Manfro was probably the MVP of the day. He had the two touchdown catches, but also ran the ball strong between the tackles on his few carries. During punt return drills, he got the first reps, and Evans got the second reps. Manfro caught one ball off of a bounce, but other than that, fielded cleanly. Evans doesn't look like he has a whole lot of shake to him, but he's pretty sure handed, catching one punt in the middle of traffic.
On the flip side, Malcolm Jones hasn't looked as good since Johnathan Franklin returned from his injury. You have to wonder if Jones is a guy who really needs to get a lot of snaps to be effective. The strong running that had been evident over the last couple of weeks was mostly non existent today.
Jeff Locke looked really good, with each of his punts going 50+.
In other news, the offensive line bounced back a little bit today, giving the quarterbacks a little bit more time, overall, then they had on Thursday. Despite that, Datone Jones seemed to break out a little today, getting into the backfield more than he has thus far in the spring.
As Mora talks about after practice, both Patrick Larimore and Aaron Wallace went down during practice, presumably with head injuries, although Mora wasn't yet sure if they were concussions. Brandon Sermons sat out practice, and may be out for the spring due to a broken bone in his hand. The remainder of the injured remain the same, with Wade Yandall continuing out.
After Larimore went down, Isaiah Bowens took his place with the first team, opposite Eric Kendricks. With all the injuries now, UCLA is down to 27 defensive players on the roster, with the secondary particularly depleted.
As Mora also mentioned, practice went about an hour shorter than usual in the Saturday heat, without much of the individual work that the team has been doing throughout spring. During the brief period of individual throwing, Hundley or Brehaut were the most accurate, although there's little to be taken from that.
David Allen looks like he'll be a threat catching the ball, catching a couple of touchdowns during the goal line period. He's got good hands, and he seems to be impressing the coaches by going full throttle on every play.
The crowd was huge for the practice, with the Spaulding bleachers full and fans lining the tops of both parking structures.
Mora Quotes, Practice Notes
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