It was a very windy evening in Westwood, which affected the quality of UCLA's practice. Only at rare intervals throughout the practice could UCLA's quarterbacks even throw accurately beyond 15 yards or so. It was also a slower practice than usual, with the team obviously going through some installation.
UCLA started off with the most energetic portion of practice, what the coaches are now calling Pride Alley, which is effectively an Oklahoma drill with a ball carrier and a blocker versus a lineman/linebacker and a defensive back. In a shocker, Kody Innes probably had the moment of the period by pancaking Brandon Willis, and Conor McDermott also had a nice moment, pushing Aaron Porter several yards out of the drill.
Anthony Barr was very disruptive in all team drills on Monday. On the second play of 11 on 11, Barr tipped Hundley's swing pass at the line, and throughout practice he was in the backfield at will. It's to the point where you can clearly see a swagger with Barr, as if he's aware that at any given moment, he can get to whatever part of the field he wants to go to. He forced a fumble as well during team drills.
Looking at Jeremy Castro, he's clearly got a long way to go to fit in at linebacker. He hasn't played the position before, and it's clear that some of the movements are mostly foreign to him. It's way too early to pass judgment, but it's probably questionable how well he can move laterally. He actually accelerate pretty well going forward, which suits a defensive end, so it might simply be the case that he needs to learn the movements of a linebacker before he can start to look the part there.
Simon Goines, running with the second string offensive line, had one lowlight during the practice where he was knocked on his butt by Castro on a bull rush. It's the same thing that we've said with Goines since last year—when he can get a good punch on the defensive end, he can stay on balance and keep the rusher in front of him. If he can't get that punch, he's simply so tall and somewhat top heavy that it's relatively easy to knock him over.
We haven't talked about him much thus far this year, but it should be said that Steven Manfro looks a bit quicker this spring than he did last year. He's still in red, which means he's not really taking part in team drills, but during individual work, he looks quicker, and might even have slimmed down a little from last season.
Paul Perkins had probably the play of practice, taking a long run during the first 11 on 11 period down the sideline for a touchdown. About ten yards out from the endzone, he faked a cut inside to throw off Randall Goforth, who bit, and then waltzed into the end zone. Monday might have been his best practice of the spring, but he did have one fumble, to go along with one on Saturday, which could become an issue.
Dietrich Riley attended practice in a red jersey, but didn't participate. He wasn't in a sling, which is a good sign. In his stead, Brandon Sermons worked with the first string. Eric Kendricks lost the crutches and just had a boot on his ankle. Keenan Graham also made it out to practice after sitting out the last two, but spent the entirety on a bike after pulling his ham string in the first practice.
Anthony Jefferson had probably his best practice in the last two years on Monday. During one on ones, he made a great breakup on a throw deep down the sideline to Jordan Payton. The really impressive thing was the way Jefferson was able to stay with him the entire way. We should have mentioned it in the defensive back analysis—that if Jefferson develops, UCLA all of a sudden becomes relatively deep in the secondary—but he hadn't given us much reason to hope until Monday. It's obviously just one practice, but it was encouraging to see.
Devin Fuller is nearly unstoppable when covered by a safety. His ability to get open on crossing routes could be devastating this year. There was one play during 7 on 7 where he must have been open on a simple drag by about 7 yards. He runs great routes, has very good quickness, and seemingly can get open at will. During one on ones, there wasn't a single defensive back who had a prayer against him. He might be the second most impressive receiver on the team so far this spring, behind Devin Lucien.
Ishmael Adams had some big moments again, but actually did get beaten two or three times. It seemed on a couple of plays where he was pressed up against the line of scrimmage he just guessed wrong out of press coverage where the route was going and then didn't have time to recover. Still, it's a testament to how strong he's been this spring that it's a note on the rare occasions when he does get beaten.
Physically, the most impressive linebacker so far this spring might be Kenny Orjioke. He's maybe a hair shorter than Barr, at an easy 6'4, and has a body where you could easily see him gain another 15 pounds. He moves very well, and if he can continue to progress on his knowledge of the position, he should have very good upside. Right now, he's still behind Aaron Wallace, who's played well this spring, but Orjioke should be in the mix this season.
It was difficult to evaluate quarterbacks on Monday, simply because of the wind, but it's clear that there's going to be some serious competition at the backup quarterback spot. You could make an argument at this point for any of Jerry Neuheisel, T.J. Millweard, or Mike Fafaul, and none of them would be a particularly strong argument. Asiantii Woulard could factor right into the mix come fall, which isn't ideal. If you're a 2014 quarterback, you'd have to be salivating looking at this depth chart.
Xavier Su'a-Filo had a number of pancakes during practice, including one play where he pushed Ryan Hofmeister clear out of the play, almost to the opposite sideline. Playing left tackle while the offensive line licks its wounds, he's still as dominant as he was last year at left guard.
There were several recruits in attendance, which you can read about here.
Monday Practice Report
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