For a variety of reasons, Monday's practice wasn't the best of the spring. Early on, Caleb Benenoch went down with what Jim Mora referred to as a hyperextension, and with Alex Redmond still sitting out of team drills with his hand in a cast, the offensive line had to do some shuffling. Malcolm Bunche got his first extended look at right tackle, and was a little hit or miss. Early on, he looked good, but then as he got fatigued, his feet got slower and he wasn't able to stay in front of guys like Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who had at least three sacks.
With Bunche sliding over to right tackle, Poasi Moala and Kenny Lacy both got work at left tackle. Lacy actually started out the day at right guard, moved to right tackle at points, was in at left tackle, and then slid to left guard during one set of reps. It seemed as if UCLA was taking advantage of the lack of numbers to slide guys around to see where there might be some versatility. Lacy probably did the best with all the switching, and looked good at guard. Bunche was actually working at right tackle during warmups prior to Benenoch's injury, so that might be something they look at more. Scott Quessenberry, Najee Toran, and Carl Hulick all got work with the 1s at points.
Ka'imi Fairbairn ended practice with some of his best kicking of the spring. He was 8 for 8, and he actually made his last one from 60 yards, and it seemed as if the coaches actually wanted him to miss to set up the return so they could practice their coverage. Instead, it snuck over Randall Goforth's head and over the bar. The ball consistently came off his foot well.
Zach Whitley also missed practice after falling down some stairs earlier on Monday. With Whitley out, UCLA was down to, really, two outside linebackers in Kenny Orjioke and Deon Hollins, since Myles Jack has been fluctuating between outside and inside backer. Orjioke continued his good play from Saturday, and really seems like he's starting to make strides in his consistency. Hollins also had a good practice, recording a couple of sacks during team drills against Lacy and Moala.
Craig Lee had another good run on Monday, and it's easy to spot him even if you don't see the number because he's so fast in the open field. He was the only running back who really distinguished himself on Monday, with the rest generally getting stifled without the consistency on the offensive line.
It's boring to write about him, but Myles Jack was once again really impressive Monday. He has become so much better in the more technical aspects of the game. He took a pursuit angle on Steven Manfro at one point that was perfect, weaving through plenty of traffic to take Manfro down with a form tackle after a two or three yard gain. He also did an excellent job in coverage drills, hanging with much smaller receivers very well. About the only guy who did well against him was Tyler Scott.
Eldridge Massington also sat out practice after a ding to the head on Saturday. He should be back this week. In his absence, the receivers once again had their way with the defensive backs, particularly in 1 on 1s – and it's not as if the DBs are covering poorly. Devin Lucien and Devin Fuller both made a pair of incredible catches where they were completely blanketed but came up with the ball. Walkon Zach Hernandez, though, had the catch of the practice, jumping high in the corner of the end zone to come down with a one-armed catch over Charles Dawson. Jordan Payton also looked solid, as always, but drew visible (and exaggerated) disgust from Eric Yarber when he didn't come down with a tough catch.
Kenny Walker had his requisite burn of a UCLA defensive back during 1 on 1s, this time the victim being Priest Willis. What was shocking is that in only about 20 yards, Walker managed to beat Willis by about 7 yards. He's come a long way in terms of his awareness, making a nice adjustment later in the period on a ball that was thrown poorly.
Jayon Brown had a nice day of practice, working in 1 on 1 drills with the receivers and holding his own fairly well. His pursuit angles have also been good throughout camp, and he looks like he has a chance to be a real player in the defense after spending virtually all of last year on special teams.
Kenneth Clark made life very difficult for Jake Brendel during 1 on 1s, using his quick feet and explosion to blow Brendel off the line of scrimmage twice, and then on another rep just quickly swam past him. Orjioke probably had the best move of the period though, using a nice inside move on Poasi Moala to get to the quarterback area virtually untouched. Najee Toran also looked good during the period, handling Eli Ankou and pushing him to the ground on both reps. Scott Quessenberry did not have an easy time of it, getting steamrolled by Ellis McCarthy twice and then getting bullrushed by Kevin McReynolds.
On the quarterback front, Asiantii Woulard once again had a fairly good day. Brett Hundley was a bit sporadic, but there were significant snapping issues from the second string line, with Carl Hulick kicking up dust with a few. Jerry Neuheisel actually thrives in those kinds of situations, since he's very calm and collected. There was one play where the ball snapped wildly to the right, and Neuheisel ran over, picked it up, and calmly shoveled it to Paul Perkins for a near touchdown.
There were plenty of recruits in attendance, including signed defensive tackle Ainuu Taua, 2016 linebacker Breland Brandt, 2015 tight end/defensive end Trevor Howard, 2015 receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, 2017 athlete Nathan Tilford, and 2016 receiver J.J. Wills.
Monday Practice Report
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