Mora Quotes, Practice Notes

Devin Lucien suffers an ankle injury during practice, Coach Mora talks about the spring game, and a few more players return from injury...

Tuesday's practice was a relatively low intensity one, as UCLA tries to get several of its players back from injury. Naturally, Coach Mora ended the day with the entire team, coaches and players, running 11 "gassers" (sprints back and forth across the field). For what it's worth, either Jeff Ulbrich or Marques Tuiasosopo are the fastest among the coaches, but Lou Spanos might be the most competitive, sprinting through the first five or six at what looked like his top speed.

It wouldn't be a practice without a new injury. Devin Lucien went down with an ankle injury during team drills. He was helped off the field, and then at the end of practice was on crutches with his ankle heavily wrapped. Coach Mora didn't seem to think it was serious in the post practice interview.

Malcolm Jones sat out practice with a minor concussion. Jeff Baca also did not attend practice because he was sick. In his stead, Brett Downey took the reps with the first team at right tackle. Anthony Jefferson also sat out practice, with soreness in his back after taking a hit during Saturday's scrimmage. For Jefferson, that may be reason for worry, what with his history of back problems.

Eric Kendricks again did not participate in any team drills, nursing a sore shoulder. With him out, Damien Holmes, who has practiced exclusively at outside linebacker going into today, spent most of today at inside linebacker opposite Ryan Hofmeister. No word yet on whether it'll be a permanent move, but with Kendricks, Isaiah Bowens, and Patrick Larimore out, it was a necessary one. He didn't look bad playing inside, and Aramide Olaniyan took his reps on the outside.

Darius Bell returned to practice after sitting out the last few weeks with a quad injury. He practiced individually but did not participate in team drills. Joseph Fauria was in pads again, but participated only in individual drills. Brandon Tuliaupupu also returned, and appeared to practice fully.

Dalton Hilliard again took the vast majority of his snaps at safety (in fact, everything I saw from him was at safety, but I'm hedging). He's mostly with the second string, but he played a few reps with the first team.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa has been working in with the 1's more frequently. At times this spring he's been taking over Datone Jones' spot, but it looks like now he and Cassius Marsh are splitting time on the other side. Owa's been quite good, and he blew past Xavier Su'a-Filo a couple of times during individual lineman drills where he looked just way too athletic to handle. For him it's still a question of getting his technique down, but his natural athletic gifts are pretty astonishing.

Marcus Rios had a very good practice, and has come a long way from the beginning of the spring (almost out of necessity). He needs to learn how to finish plays, letting a few guys get past him after he covers their initial moves, but he's shown enough to guess that he could be one of the freshmen candidates to actually play this year.

On to the quarterbacks. Richard Brehaut had one of his better days today, looking very good during his period of 11 on 11. During a situational drive (where Mora would place the ball at various points going down the field announcing a random down and distance), he capped the drive with a couple of touchdown passes to Shaquelle Evans.

Brett Hundley had another solid day, but didn't get quite as many reps as he did on Saturday. The reps were actually divided fairly evenly between Brehaut, Hundley, and Kevin Prince, and even the bottom three got some significant reps toward the end of practice. For what it's worth, T.J. Millweard looks like he's done some significant work on his throwing motion, and looks like he's trying to exaggerate his follow through and quicken his release. It still doesn't look exactly pretty, but he was throwing better spirals out to about 15 or 20 yards, and was generally more accurate than he has been.

There was a lot of running game practice today, and against the depleted interior of UCLA's defense, all the running backs had good days. Steven Manfro had one play where he basically went straight up the middle untouched for a touchdown. Jordon James again ran with some impressive power for a guy his size, bulling his way for extra yards. And Johnathan Franklin was his usual solid self.

If anything, the defense did a better job of squashing the outside running game, flying to the ball pretty effectively. While the defense isn't exactly stout up the middle in run support, they are a much more active unit than they were a year ago.

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