UCLA practiced in shorts and shoulder pads Wednesday morning, and the practice was generally a more slow-moving one, with much of the day spent on teaching and installation.
Fabian Moreau had easily his best day of practice this spring, and it's not as if he's been bad through the first eight practices. During 7 on 7 play, he was dominant, and between 11 on 11, 7 on 7, and the 1 on 1 period, he might have had double digit pass breakups. He can get beaten off the snap, but he recovers so well against even fast receivers that it's rare he's not in the picture when the pass comes in. He's had the best spring of any of the corners.
Ellis McCarthy also had a nice practice, but it's hard to tell too much from the linemen when they're not wearing pads. He seemed to be moving with more explosion, and was using swim moves really well to get past the interior linemen. He had one play where he beat Scott Quessenberry off the snap on a swim move, got to Jake Brendel at the second level, and bullrushed him for a sack of Brett Hundley.
The offensive line was cobbled together again, this time because Malcolm Bunche sat out practice (we'll know more about his injury tomorrow). Caleb Benenoch did make his way back to the field, so the knee hyperextension doesn't appear to be serious. He, Quessenberry, Jake Brendel, Najee Toran, and Kenny Lacy were the starting offensive line from left to right, with Alex Redmond still sitting out most of practice with the hand injury. Poasi Moala also worked in at both tackle spots.
Toran flashed some good mobility from the guard spot at one point, pulling outside to block a blitz from Priest Willis on the corner. He's consistently been getting first team reps over the last week or so as the team has dealt with injuries.
Zach Whitley also was back, but looked a little gimpy, and had to be pulled from a few drills. He was working back at inside linebacker. Myles Jack was not at practice, apparently getting his wisdom teeth pulled today. Depending on how the surgery goes, he could miss a couple more practices. Eldridge Massington also made his return from the head injury he suffered on Saturday.
Jayon Brown and Ryan Hofmeister were the first string inside linebackers to start out practice, but both Whitley and Isaako Savaiinaea worked in with the first team at various points. Savaiinaea, doing his first real team work since the shoulder injury, looked good, and was moving well. Brown also had a nice start to the day, but limped off with an injury about halfway through practice. Hofmeister had a good practice as well, and he's solid enough to be a good fill-in this year in case of injury.
Kenny Orjioke's recent string of good practices appears to have been rewarded, as he's now the first string outside linebacker in both base defense and in nickel, with Deon Hollins dropping to the second team in nickel. Orjioke had a great practice, particularly in 1 on 1 pass coverage, where he blanketed Nate Iese.
The quarterbacks, as a group, didn't look great today, particularly Asiantii Woulard, who seemed off on many of his throws in 7 on 7 and 11 on 11. As Mazzone has said in his interviews, Woulard has been inconsistent, and Wednesday was probably one of his worst practices. The quarterbacks weren't helped by multiple drops from Jalen Ortiz, Tyler Scott, Eldridge Massington, and others. Thomas Duarte and Devin Lucien were two that stood out for actually making all of their catches.
On the running back front, Jordon James had a few nice runs where he looked a little bit quicker than he's looked overall this spring. Craig Lee also had his requisite explosive run. Paul Perkins caused a little visible consternation for Kennedy Polamalu when he dropped a swing pass, but otherwise it was a generally solid day for the group.
There were plenty of 2015 recruits in attendance, including three-star Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian cornerback Justice Shelton-Mosley, four-star Concord (Calif.) Del La Salle defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, four-star Buffalo (New York) Canisius defensive end Tyrone Wheatley,and four-star Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes athlete Jaason Lewis. Committed 2014 defensive lineman Ainuu Taua showed up for his third consecutive practice, and was once again intensely focused on the defensive line drills. Committed 2014 offensive tackle Kolton Miller was also at practice. He looks to be close to his listed 6'8, and about 270 pounds.
Wheatley, it should be noted, spent most of his time watching the linebackers during individual drills. Mora spent a good 20 minutes talking to Wheatley Sr.
A potential transfer, Gerald Nutt from Fresno City College, was also at practice. He walked on at Fresno State, but transferred to Fresno City College soon thereafter where he had a good 2013 season. It's doubtful he'd be a scholarship candidate at UCLA.
Wednesday Practice Report
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