Saturday Practice Report

UCLA put the pads back on for Saturday's practice, and the team responded with better energy and intensity despite the heat...

UCLA donned the pads again for Saturday's practice, which was both the hottest practice of the spring and the most well-attended. It was physical from the beginning, with Anthony Jefferson laying a huge hit during the Pride Alley drill at the beginning of practice. The first two reps of the period were the most intriguing—on the first one, Xavier Su'a-Filo shucked Anthony Barr completely aside, allowing Paul Perkins an easy jaunt past the defensive back. Then, they repeated the rep, and this time Barr handled Su'a-Filo pretty well, even getting a hand on the running back.

Jordan Zumwalt was probably the most impressive player in the Oklahoma drill, twice beating Ian Taubler on the block and then making the tackle himself. He's continued to add strength throughout his career, and now, with his athleticism, you could see him having a very nice senior season.

At this point, you could make an argument that Anthony Jefferson is the story of the spring. He's moving so much better, and told me after practice that he actually started working with chiropractors who have helped to fix his lingering disc issues. He had the defensive play of the practice, fighting Shaquelle Evans for an interception in the back corner of the end zone on a slightly underthrown pass.

UCLA was able to get a little more offensive movement on Saturday than they got on Thursday, thanks to improved play from the interior of the offensive line. During goal line periods, UCLA scored three straight touchdowns, with Jordon James scoring on an option throw, scoring again on a nice touchdown run up the middle, and then Jordan Payton scoring on a well thrown pass from Brett Hundley in the back of the end zone.

Hundley again didn't have a great day throwing the ball, overthrowing plenty of receivers during both individual drills and team drills. In fact, none of the quarterbacks had particularly good days, with T.J. Millweard reverting at times to his old throwing ways, tossing a few ducks during the 11 on 11 period.

James was probably the best running back on the day, and he might be getting a leg up on the competition. Today, he showed some more disciplined cutting, especially on runs between the tackles, where he would cut just once and then hit the hole. Malcolm Jones practiced well, and is running physically. Paul Perkins had a pretty quiet practice.

UCLA spent much of the practice doing situational drills—things like end of game field goal, Hail Mary, and two minute drill. Last year during spring, those situational drills would be a bit of an adventure, because many of the players would not be on the same page, but it's clear that the team has a much better idea of what the coaches want in those situations.

During special teams drills, Randall Goforth probably had the best punt return, showing nice quickness and change of direction. There's no real clarity in either the kick return or punt return competition, and as with last year, we have to imagine that competition will last until the fall, especially with Damien Thigpen still out.

Brandon Sermons worked with the first string at safety, as he has at times this spring, and McKay worked with the second string. Eli Ankou once again was getting most of the reps as the second string nose tackle, and looked good again, holding up double teams.

Jim Mora launched his Count on Me Foundation chapter in LA after practice, and Rafer Johnson was in attendance for that.

2014 Norwalk (Calif.) running back Rashaad Penny received some attention from the coaching staff. 2015 defensive end Keisean Lucier-South was in attendance at practice, as was 2014 Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic defensive end Connor Humphreys. 2014 Murrietta (Calif.) Vista running back Kishawn Holmes also attended practice. UCLA freshmen-to-be Tahaan Goodman and Kenneth Clark also attended.

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