The big news from Friday's morning practice was the return of Eddie Vanderdoes. Vanderdoes participated in a few team drills and most of the individual drills, and looked pretty good, if a little rusty. On his first rep in team drills, he was actually admonished by Coach Mora for bull-rushing without pads on. On the next rep, he did a nice rip of Caleb Benenoch on the right side and made what would have been a tackle for a loss in the backfield. It'll be interesting to see how quickly he becomes a full participant in every team rep. For now, he's working with the 3s.
UCLA did a lot of situational work on Friday, and it was a relatively short practice, so there isn't a great deal to report. UCLA practiced Hail Mary's, end of game laterals, and end of game drills, like a running back falling down on a breakaway to milk more clock. With so many freshmen being integrated, some of those drills were a bit painstaking, but it looked like they were all getting it by the end.
Sean Covington handled every single punt during the first period of practice, and looked generally OK. He hit four punts over 45 yards with good hang time, and also had two shanks, both of which still went over 35 yards. It's very rare for a freshman punter to nail every single punt, and it's clear he has the potential to be a good one once he starts getting his drop consistent.
With Simon Goines out with the hyperextended knee, Xavier Su'a-Filo made the move to left tackle, and Kenny Lacy actually worked in with the 1s at left guard. Su'a-Filo looks like he's a little rusty at left tackle, but Lacy had some moments at left guard. He obviously has a long ways to go in terms of his body and knowing where to be, but he actually got down field OK during run plays. Still, given how important the guards are to the running game, we don't think that Su'a-Filo switching to tackle would be a great long term solution. It'll be interesting to see, if Goines is out for a while, whether they make the choice to move Torian White back to left, and bring in Conor McDermott.
Seali'i Epenesa worked in with the 1s again at nose tackle, and Ellis McCarthy spent most of his time with the 2s, but worked with the first team nickel. It looks like there's still a pretty serious competition there between the two.
We've said it a few times, but Eldridge Massington looks like he's moving a lot better. He made a few cuts during individual drills where he looked about as fluid as any of the other receivers. His body, too, looks much better than it did last year, with a slimmer upper body.
Kylie Fitts and Kenneth Clark both sat out practice. Clark had a personal issue to attend to, and Fitts was feeling cramps again after being pulled from yesterday's practice. Ben Wysocki and Poasi Moala made it back for portions of the practice.
Kenny Orjioke made a couple of nice plays again on Friday working with the second string at right outside linebacker. He made one stop in the back field on a run, and also had a virtual sack during team drills.
A day after we said that T.J. Millweard looked like he was nailing down the No. 2 quarterback position, no quarterback other than Brett Hundley really stood out. Millweard threw a bad pick to Tahaan Goodman, Jerry Neuheisel threw a worse pick to Stan McKay, and Asiantii Woulard was actually pulled from a situational drill for NOT throwing an interception (Neuheisel came running in after the exchange). It's clear that no matter who the No. 2 guy is, there's going to be a big dropoff, not that that's a surprise.
Even Hundley didn't have a great day. His internal clock that tells him when to get rid of the ball is still a work in progress. There was one virtual sack where he waited in the middle of the pocket for a good three or four seconds—way too long with this offensive line being hampered by the Goines injury. He also overthrew a pass over the middle to Devin Fuller that would have gotten Fuller blown up if it had been a live game, and also should have been intercepted by Ishmael Adams over the top.
Jordan Payton looked good again on Friday, and he's had a really nice camp. While we think Devin Lucien might be more of a spectacular downfield threat, Payton has been so consistent throughout camp, with great hands and a good ability to just get open, that we can see why the coaches continue to opt for him at that spot. He said after practice that Lucien's comments about winning the spot have motivated him considerably.
In a nice leadership moment, Caleb Benenoch was working with the freshman offensive line at right tackle. During the drill, after a few successive plays, Benenoch wanted to tap out. Su'a-Filo yelled from the sideline for him to push through it, and Benenoch insisted on tapping out. Su'a-Filo and Jake Brendel then both came over to him and talked to him about pushing through the fatigue, which Benenoch seemed to respond to.
There'll be another practice this evening at 6 PM.
Friday Morning Practice Report
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