Monday's morning practice, the start of the second two-a-day, began with UCLA wearing its spider pads and shorts, much like Friday. As Tracy reported on the message board, Ian Taubler, Poasi Moala, and Kevin McReynolds have all suffered concussions and sat out the practice. Christian Morris came out dressed but got sick and sat out. Jordan Zumwalt continued to sit with a tight hamstring, and Eddie Vanderdoes sat as well. Cassius Marsh also sat out the practice. Many of them are expected to participate in the evening practice, according to Mora.
The most interesting development of the day was the use of Myles Jack in the defense. During 1 on 1 drills, when most of the linebackers match up against running backs on one side of the field while the defensive backs match up against slot and wide receivers on the other side, Jack went with the defensive backs. In coverage drills, he looked shockingly quick for a guy who's probably 230 pounds. Against the quickest receivers, like Darren Andrews, he couldn't quite keep up, but against some of the bigger guys, he was right there with them. It's clear that UCLA can use him in a variety of ways in the defense, and it seems that they're interested in finding out whether he can be a mini-linebacker. He played there some during the team portion of the practice and did nothing to embarrass himself.
Andrews, for his part, has real quickness, and looks like he's going to be used in a variety of ways by the offense. He's bigger than we originally thought, looking like he's about 5'11 and well built, and it looks like he might be close to as fast as was reported from his high school track times. With the lack of strong slot receivers on this team outside of Devin Fuller, Andrews could see some playing time this year.
Although we'd say that Torian White looks like more of a natural left tackle than Simon Goines, that's not to say that Goines hasn't improved from a year ago. He looks much more mobile on run blocking, at one point getting out in front of a Paul Perkins run downfield and actually making a key block about 7 or 8 yards downfield. Again, we'll be watching to see if White and Goines flip at some point.
Grayson Mazzone has worked primarily with the 1s at the Y receiver spot, and catches the ball well. Darius Bell is still in a red jersey, and Thomas Duarte has been in and out of practice over the past few days, which makes the Y position a little light on depth.
On the offensive line, it looks like we're solidifying with Caleb Benenoch at right guard. He looks good for a freshman, much like Goines last year, but with probably a slightly better body which might help him stay on the field and healthy this year. He'll have some work to do technically, and there are times when he looks a little lost on who to block, but he does more positive than negative at this point. One thing that may make it an easier adjustment for him than White, Brendel, and Goines last year is that it's just one of him slotting into an experienced unit, rather than three. If he's confused about an assignment, he can just ask the guy to the right or the left. That's a luxury UCLA did not have last year.
During the 11 on 11 period, the defensive backs had easily their best collective day of fall camp. There were several times where they covered so well in nickel that Brett Hundley had to simply throw the ball out the back of the end zone or take a sack. The period ended with a touchdown pass to Devin Fuller, covered by Jayon Brown, which was just about the only mismatch in the defense. In that defensive backs unit were Randall Goforth (who had his best day of the fall), Anthony Jefferson (also at safety), Fabian Moreau, Ishmael Adams, and Brown. Mora is not blowing smoke about Moreau—the guy clearly has the ability to play this year.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Isaac Savaiinaea moves really well sideline to sideline. During team drills, he was able to constantly meet receivers and running backs right when they hit the edge of the field, and the funny thing is, it looks pretty clear that he's a guy who looks better in pads than in shorts. Judging by how frequently he's run with the ones in the absence of Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt, it's a pretty safe assumption that he'll play this year.
Eldridge Massington continues to improve his mobility during fall camp. In fact, it seems like every practice he looks just a tad bit quicker and more explosive. Today was one of his best days so far at UCLA. During 1 on 1s, he caught everything that came his way, on a day when there were pretty frequent drops.
Devin Fuller was guilty of at least three drops in 1 on 1s, but none of the throws were particularly good. Still, if there's a small concern with him, it's that he doesn't have really natural hands. He gets so open, though, that he'll get pretty easy catches. There was a play during the period where he cut so quickly that Tyler Foreman tripped over his feet trying to make the same move, which allowed Fuller to get open by about 15 yards. He's going to be a really dynamic threat on short routes.
Jordon James, as Mora talked about after practice, looks bigger and faster than a year ago, and is running with more authority up the middle. After talking to Noel Mazzone after practice, it appears that UCLA is sticking with the idea of running back by committee, so there's a chance there won't be a 20 carry per game guy, but at this point, if there was going to be one, we'd guess James has the inside track.
To give some walkons some love: Logan Sweet has been consistently good in most practices we've seen from him, going back to his freshman year. He has better quickness than the typical walkon receiver, and he has very good hands. If there were a walkon to get playing time this year, he'd be our number one candidate. With the receiver position not particularly deep, we could see him playing some snaps this year. On the defensive side of the ball, Charles Dawson has stood out to us a few times. He's not big by any means, and he's playing with a broken wrist, but he's had nice pass breakups in a few practices thus far.
On the defensive line, UCLA started with Keenan Graham, Seali'i Epenesa, and Kylie Fitts as the No. 1 group, with Marsh out. The remainder of the defense remains relatively unchanged, except Priest Willis probably spent more time with the 2s today, and Ishmael Adams spent more time with the 1s. The linebackers remained the same as Saturday night, with Aaron Wallace working with the 1's on the left side and Kenny Orjioke backing up Anthony Barr on the right side.
Brett Hundley looked generally good throughout practice, hitting receivers in stride during individuals and making throws when they were there to be made during team drills. Hundley has never been a really dazzling practice player, but the biggest difference so far that we've seen is that he hasn't had any bad practices. He's looked above average to good in most practices so far, which is actually a step up from his usual practice play. Asiantii Woulard looked better than he did Saturday night, but is clearly still learning once he gets into team stuff. He didn't look as lost as he did on Saturday night, though, so it's clear he's learning. T.J. Millweard also looked better, so we'll call the first two days an aberration and say he's still on an upward trajectory.
During punting drills at the beginning of practice, Shaquelle Evans, Devin Fuller, Ishmael Adams, Damien Thigpen, Ahmad Harris, and Jordon James all took reps at the punt returner. Sean Covington had his usual one shank, that went about 20 yards, but booted five other punts that went about 40, 50, 55, 45, and 45. For a freshman punter, one shank in six is not bad.
Tonight's practice will start at 6 PM rather than 7, and it should, once again, be in full pads.