Saturday night's practice marked the second practice of UCLA's first double day and the first day of full pads for the team. As a day full of firsts, the practice was also probably UCLA's roughest so far this fall camp. Being the second day of the first double day, it looked like guys were dragging a little bit by the end, and practicing at night had some drawbacks. During the final team period, it was really hard to judge where the ball was against the twilight sky and in the glare of the lights, and led to some missed throws.
As we said before, though, the full pads did provide us a better look at both the offensive and defensive lines. One player that stood out that we haven't mentioned previously was Kenny Clark. The nose guard ran with mostly the 2's and the 3's at nose, but looked like too much for many of the interior linemen to handle. He's pretty squat, which gives him the ability to get excellent leverage on his bull rush. During 1 on 1s, he was consistently able to push his man, whether it was Jake Brendel or Carl Hulick, back well into the pocket.
On the offensive line side, Torian White was probably the most impressive of the first string. He's come a long way from last year, and told us after practice that by the end of last year, he had actually dropped all the way down to 265 pounds. At this point in camp, he says he is 30 pounds heavier, and he's carrying the added weight well. During 1 on 1s, he repeatedly stoned each defender he went up against, showing improved lateral quickness, which is a bit of a shock considering he's carrying a good deal more weight. His strength is probably his biggest improvement, though, and in team drills he showed an ability to run block that wasn't really there last year.
The rest of the first string offensive line had its ups and downs. Simon Goines has had some trouble containing the edge against UCLA's skilled edge rushers on the left side, but during 1 on 1s, he had a nice moment blocking Keenan Graham, so it's a mixed bag. It'll be interesting to see if there's some mixing and matching between he and White at the tackle spots. Xavier Su'a-Filo, during 1 on 1s, actually lost a rep pretty handily to Ellis McCarthy, who just bull rushed him out of the way. McCarthy only really uses the bull rush at this point, but his strength is such that it'll work for him fairly often.
Caleb Benenoch once again had both good moments and bad. He's very strong, and, again, when he makes the right read and gets his hands on a guy, he's able to lock him up. He's just a talented freshman, with all that entails—missed assignments to go along with moments of high quality play. During team drills on Saturday night, he had some struggles.
Isaac Savaiinaea worked with the 1s alongside Ryan Hofmeister at inside linebacker with Jordan Zumwalt resting his hamstring. Savaiinaea has looked good in the position, and made some nice run stuffing plays during team drills.
Eddie Vanderdoes didn't participate in team drills, so we'll monitor how that progresses. Brandon Willis got most of the reps with the 1s on the left side, and actually made a nice stop on a zone read.
Brett Hundley had probably the throw of the night during the first team period, which actually ended up being a drop by Shaquelle Evans. It was a beautiful deep bomb to Evans after he split double coverage that hit him right in the hands. Hundley looked like the best quarterback of the day.
Asiantii Woulard truly is swimming now, as Coach Mora said. During team drills, he had trouble making quick decisions and looked a little lost at times—again, everything you'd expect from a true freshman. The day off tomorrow should be good for him as it'll give him some mental rest.
Jayon Brown was one of the better defensive players on the day. He's not a pure cover guy as you can tell from 1 on 1s, and needs to work on that area, but during team drills he seems to always be around the ball.
After hearing the news that his appeal for a fifth year had not been granted, Malcolm Jones probably had his best combined day as a running back this year. He's running with so much more authority than we've seen from him over the last couple of years. He told us after practice that he actually completely changed his body while maintaining a weight of 225 during the offseason. He looks much leaner and is moving really well. He and Jordon James were probably the best running backs on Saturday. Steven Manfro had a fumble on a bad handoff, and had one pretty nice run, but was otherwise fairly quiet.
Tyler Foreman looks like he might have a chance this year. He seems to have really good instincts in run defense, and seems really comfortable in the box. He had a really athletic play on what looked like a blitz where he made it into the backfield and came within a finger's breadth of tipping Hundley's swing pass or possibly intercepting it. He sniffed out swings really well. In pass coverage, he probably has more work to do, but he definitely looks the part of a strong safety.
Anthony Jefferson was unfortunate during 1 on 1s, having two reps against Devin Lucien, who has made a habit in the last few days of making defensive backs look silly. On three straight reps, he handled Jefferson's best efforts with ease, and got wide open for three receptions.
Of the running backs, from what we saw today during 1 on 1 blocking drills against linebackers, Jordon James might have the best chance to be a really good blocker from that spot. It seems to be a point of emphasis with him. Malcolm Jones looked good at times, but also had some struggles.
Today, Aaron Wallace got the majority of the reps at first string left outside linebacker while Kenny Orjioke spent most of his time with the 2s behind Anthony Barr. Orjioke got fooled by the zone read a couple of times, and that'll likely need to be a focus for him going forward since so many teams in the Pac-12 run the zone read to a certain extent. Of course, it's an easy thing to be fooled on.
Tomorrow, UCLA won't practice, and then the following day will be another double day, starting at 8:30 AM.
Saturday Night Practice Report
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