UCLA's Saturday practice was probably one of the more exciting ones of the spring, with several live periods and a lot of hitting during virtually every drill. It's been a tackle-heavy spring, but Saturday seemed especially so, with Pride Alley (the Oklahoma drill UCLA does) to start the day and then several live periods on the grass field for the fans.
The light bulb might be coming on for Kenny Orjioke. During 1 on 1 drills, he was unblockable, with Kenny Lacy and Caleb Benenoch both looking like they were stuck in mud when matched up against him. Orjioke also consistently made plays in team drills, flying into the backfield to break up several running plays. It seems like it's finally clicking for him that he can get wherever he wants whenever he wants, and it's exciting to see.
Lacy got most of his work with the first team, and appears to be inching ahead of Poasi Moala on the depth chart. Moala has stagnated a bit over the last week, and on Saturday he had his troubles blocking Kylie Fitts, who was frequently able to swim inside of Moala on inside moves and get to the quarterback position. Malcolm Bunche had a bit of a scare with what looked like an ankle, but got it taped up and went right back in, so he appears to be fine.
Caleb Benenoch probably had the best rep during the 1 on 1 period, completely handling Deon Hollins' speed rush, getting his hands inside of the much smaller linebacker, and then pushing him back beyond the line of scrimmage. It drew loud praise from Adrian Klemm, who called it "grown man" stuff.
Fitts actually had a pretty good practice after a couple of rough runs, and it looked like his success against Moala gave him a bit more confidence going forward. He made a few nice plays during team drills, blowing up running plays. Owamagbe Odighizuwa also had a good practice, and forced several false starts out of the right side of the offensive line.
Mossi Johnson continues to be very impressive in practice, looking like one of the better receivers on the team in both 1 on 1s and team drills. He has a consistent ability to get open across the middle, which is a lot like Devin Fuller. Thomas Duarte also had a very good day of practice, catching the ball consistently during 1 on 1s despite being well-covered. Devin Lucien has also become virtually uncoverable during 1 on 1 reps, frequently catching balls with defensive backs draped all over him.
The defensive backs did not have a good day in 1 on 1s. Tyler Foreman was beaten by Tyler Scott on three straight reps during the period, and Anthony Jefferson had an impossible time covering Fuller. In fact, the best "defensive back" during that period was probably Myles Jack, who covered Jalen Ortiz like a blanket on one play and did a nice enough job on much smaller receivers throughout the period.
Tahaan Goodman had a very good day in team drills, looking instinctual and like a heavy hitter. He had one hit during the second team period where he completely drilled Nate Iese, knocking him off his feet. It drew a heavy fist pump from Jim Mora and loud cheers from the crowd. Fabian Moreau also looked very good, and it's a credit to him that we've barely mentioned him this spring since he's generally been good in coverage. He had one of the best reps of the spring against Lucien, forcing Jerry Neuheisel to just throw the ball away.
Kenny Walker had his requisite deep post, burning Adarius Pickett once again during 1 on 1s. When he get a head of steam, and the cornerback doesn't try to knock him off his route, there are very few guys who can stay with him. Getting stronger will probably be a priority for him so he can beat presses and maintain route integrity. He also had the biggest play of the two-minute period, catching a touchdown pass from Brett Hundley on a slant to end the period.
Zach Whitley fluctuated between outside and inside linebacker on Saturday, while Scott Quessenberry did the same between backup center and guard. Myles Jack also got some work at inside backer Saturday as UCLA seemed to be experimenting with different looks.
Kevin McReynolds, it should be said, has had a generally nice camp so far, and is playing with very good strength and pad level. During 1 on 1s, Carl Hulick couldn't hang with him, with McReynolds bull-rushing him on three straight reps. His effort has been good as well, so it'll be interesting to see if he can crack the rotation.
Another guy we haven't mentioned, John Lopez, has had two consecutive decent days of practice, looking strong and physical during 1 on 1s (admittedly against walkons). His body still has a ways to go, but it's improved since last season, so there's some upside there. While he might not be a rotational player this year, he has a chance to be once he completes his body transformation.
Asiantii Woulard had one of his better periods of the spring during his two-minute drills, throwing a touchdown strike to Sam Handler on a play where he really had to go deep into his progression. His practice was generally a good one, but that was probably the best he's looked in a team period this spring, which is very encouraging.
During kickoff drills at the beginning of practice, Ishmael Adams looked like the most explosive return guy on the team (not surprising), taking one of his two kicks to the house for a touchdown. The special teams play was more or less live, so that was actually close to a legitimate special teams touchdown.
Ka'imi Fairbairn ended practice going 6 of 8 on field goals, with the misses both looking like they came from 50+. On the shorter stuff, he was very good.
It was hard to spot recruits with the coaches milling about, but it looked like 2015 OL Zach Robertson and Austin Maihen were in attendance. Defensive lineman and UCLA signee Ainuu Taua was also in attendance at practice, and seemed to be very much invested in the practice, hovering near defensive line drills most of the day.
In injury news, Isaako Savaiinaea was out at practice in shorts, but looked OK. Johnny Johnson had his arm in a sling, so it'll be interesting to see what the injury is there.
Saturday Practice Report
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