Tuesday Practice Report

It doesn't seem like there is a quarterback competition, the defense continues to look good, but there is a worrisome injury at linebacker...

It was another hot day out in San Bernardino on Tuesday, with an added layer of humidity that has been lacking over the last few days. With practice moved back to 4 PM, and a little bit of cloud cover, the sun didn't beat down quite as hard, and there were certainly fewer heat-related issues than yesterday.

During special teams, freshman quarterback Devin Fuller was added to the mix at punt returner and looked a little shaky. He misjudged his first two punts, but seemed to get a better feel for it on his next two. Coach Jim Mora said that he'll be in the mix there, and intimated that if he's the clear-cut winner of the job, it might be worth burning his redshirt.

Steven Manfro, Jordon James, Shaquelle Evans, Damien Thigpen, Ahmaad Harris, and Kenny Walker all participated in punt return drills as well, but it seems like it's going to be a race between Manfro, James, and Evans for the job. You could easily foresee one of Manfro and James winning the job, with Evans handling short field punts. If one of the others were to break in, Walker seems the most likely. He has a pretty natural catching technique, and he runs very well, with a high-stepping stride.

Patrick Larimore sat out practice with a concussion, which Mora talks about in the post-practice interview. This is Larimore's second concussion in the past six months, so Mora said they'll be extremely cautious with him going forward. Malcolm Jones had what Mora termed a minor groin strain, and also sat out. Brett Downey, Simon Goines, Jordan Barrett, Tre Hale, and Dalton Hilliard all sat out with heat-related issues. During practice, Jeff Baca and Cassius Marsh went down due to the heat/dehydration, and Randall Goforth was also taken off.

Along the offensive line, Ben Wysocki took the first-string reps at right tackle, in the absence of Goines and Downey, but the rest of the line remained the same. When Baca went down toward the end of practice, Albert Cid took his place. The line once again was having issues with pass protection, but it's hard to pass too much judgment before full pads come on.

During the first reps of the 11-on-11, Anthony Barr had a very nice strip of Shaquelle Evans for a forced fumble. Barr has really had a nice camp so far, showing some instinctual ability at linebacker that wasn't evident in his few days during the spring. He also had an interception later in practice.

It seems pretty clear, and has for a while now, that Brett Hundley is leading this quarterback race, if there still is a race. For the fourth straight practice, he was a cut above everyone else, and this wasn't a practice where the other quarterbacks looked particularly bad. His touch, accuracy, and arm strength are all improved from his freshman year, but what really stands out is his decision making, and ability to move through his progression to hit second or third options.

His second drive during the two-minute drill ended with a truly great touchdown throw to Darius Bell that hit him perfectly just as he came open. He's been the most consistent of any of the quarterbacks on mid- to long-range throws.

Anthony Jefferson has looked a little rusty to start camp, but seemed to come on today, catching one interception during 1-on-1s and breaking up a number of passes during team drills. Justin Combs, who has been abused pretty regularly by UCLA's larger receivers, had a little bit of a bounce back today, breaking up a couple of passes, and actually playing pretty tight coverage on Jerry Rice Jr.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa continues to be a force on the defensive line. He had at least two "sacks" during team drills, and seems to be just a little too much for the offensive line to handle. At one point he pushed Jacob Brendel about ten yards off the line.

Andrew Abbott continued with his interception streak, picking T.J. Millweard with one arm during one-on-ones. He looks none the worse for wear after sitting out most of the spring with a knee injury.

Ka'imi Fairbairn had a decent day kicking the ball, hitting field goals from 22, 27, and 38 yards before missing a 43-yarder wide right. He seems to have a strong enough leg to hit from anywhere inside 50, but they haven't tried him much longer than 45 yet. Justin Moreno, the walkon, also hit from the same distances and missed from 43, but his miss was very short and very wide.

As he talks about in the post-practice interview, Mora lit into the coaches at one point during practice for what he perceived as a lack of fire. The tempo of the practice actually seemed pretty good, but after his quick talk with the coaches, it seemed like there was an added emphasis on organization and tempo.

Hundley, Richard Brehaut, and Jerry Neuheisel all got reps in the two-minute. Hundley looked the best of the bunch, but Neuheisel also had a nice drive that was capped by a pretty wild 10-second scramble, which ended with a near-completion in the end zone. Brehaut, after looking better yesterday, again seemed to be out of sorts today, although he didn't look as rough as he did the first two days.

Tevin McDonald had probably the defensive play of the day, picking off Brehaut during his drive off a tipped pass to Logan Sweet. He laid out almost completely and looked like he made a finger tip interception.

Mora, being the defensive guy that he is, called a 20-yard penalty for delay of game on the extra point after Hundley's final drive, but Fairbairn still hit the point after.

Tomorrow is the first practice in full pads, and it will again be moved to 4 PM.

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