Thursday Practice Report

UCLA's Thursday morning practice featured a minor injury to an offensive lineman and one quarterback appears to be getting a good amount of the second team reps...

Thursday morning's practice got a little scary during the first section of live drills, when Simon Goines hurt his leg on a physical pass rush from Cassius Marsh. Goines got up with some help from the trainers and headed over to the tent, but according to Mora after the practice, the injury was a minor hyperextension of his knee, and he didn't seem to think it was serious.

Conor McDermott worked with the 1s at left tackle in his stead, and looked like he has a real chance. He's a legitimate 6'7 or 6'8 with a frame that could clearly add more weight. He held off both Anthony Barr and Cassius Marsh fairly well from the spot, and he looks mobile. He might still be, ideally, a year away from being able to withstand the rigor of playing every snap, but he looks like he has a real chance to be a player.

In talking with Coach Klemm after practice, he seems more confident in the depth at guard than the depth at tackle, so if there were a long term injury at tackle, it looks like Xavier Su'a-Filo would be the most likely candidate to man the tackle spot.

After the injury to Goines, UCLA went live for just a few more plays and then switched into skeleton drills. Mora said afterward that it's a delicate balance, determining how often you should go live in a practice, because there's a better chance that someone will get hurt than even in a game, given that it's 11 UCLA players versus 11 UCLA players.

UCLA opened practice with punting drills, and once again Sean Covington was mostly good, with a couple of shanks. He hit two 55+ yard punts during the period, but also had two shanks that only went about 30 to 35 yards, and didn't have great hang time. When he really get s ahold of a punt, though, it goes a long way and stays up for a long time, so you have to figure he'll get the consistency down.

At the quarterback spot, it looks more and more like T.J. Millweard is getting the most second string reps. He had another pretty good day today, throwing with some zip over the middle of the field. His motion, which looked rough again to start fall camp, has been shortened back to where it was in spring, and that seems to be helping. It could be the kind of thing where, if Brett Hundley were to sprain an ankle and miss a few plays or one game, one of Millweard, Jerry Neuheisel, or Mike Fafaul would see playing time. In the event that Hundley suffered an injury that made him miss more time, it seems more likely that the staff would make every effort to get Asiantii Woulard ready.

Johnny Johnson still is making a go of it in practice, so it wouldn't be fair to rule him out at this point. As Mora said, he's about where Ishmael Adams was at the beginning of games last year, so there's a chance that he could decide to give the season a try. At the very least, it might simply be that he wants to make it through fall camp, get in great condition, and then undergo surgery so he doesn't miss all of the reps from practice..

Poasi Moala and Malcolm Jones both showed up in pads but took them off about halfway through and watched from the sideline. It seems like they're both pretty close to returning.

At punt returner, Shaquelle Evans, Devin Fuller, and Ishmael Adams were the primary returners, with Evans getting the first reps. All three showed pretty sure hands, which we know the coaches value at the spot.

The first string offensive line, when healthy was the same as the previous days, but about halfway through practice, Carl Hulick started to take the primary reps at right guard, and Caleb Benenoch bumped down to the second string. That doesn't appear to be a long term move, but might have been meant to continue to motivate Bennoch.

Kylie Fitts went down again, and it looked like it was heat-related.

Thomas Duarte had his best practice since the first couple of days, at one point making two consecutive nice catches over the middle during 11 on 11. He has natural athleticism that allows him to get open with ease against linebackers and safeties. He also catches really well. He told me after practice that he played mostly outside receiver in high school, so it's actually easier for him going up against linebackers and safeties.

Jayon Brown continues to make plays every day. Today, he showed physicality, bodying up recievers during 1 on 1s to knock them off their routes, and blowing up a swing pass during 11 on 11. Right now, according to Mora, if UCLA had a game tomorrow, he's the first string nickel safety.

During 1 on 1 drills, Devin Fuller put a series of moves on Stan McKay that bordered on abusive. He ran what was basically a post, but put so many jab steps into the initial part of the route that it looked like McKay turned around about three times before Fuller had even made his break. Naturally, Fuller got open by about 10 yards. Other than Fuller, UCLA had some uncharacteristic dropsies during the period, with Devin Lucien, Jordan Payton, and converted quarterback Brendan Cross all dropping easy passes that hit them in the hands. Fuller had the catch of the period too, grabbing a ball of his shoestrings over Ishmael Adams on a pass to the sideline.

Fabian Moreau had the play of the last period of skeleton, making a great break on a ball from T.J. Millweard, stepping in front of the receiver to make the interception. Few guys have raised their stock as much as Moreau through the first week of camp, and he looks like he'll have a very good chance to start in two weeks against Nevada.

UCLA ended practice with field goals, and they were mostly forgettable. Ka'imi Fairbairn made his first two short field goals and then missed four, one from about 40, and then three from 52 yards. He had the power, but it just looked like his aiming point or timing were a bit off.

UCLA practices again tomorrow at 8:30 AM and then at 6 PM.

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