UCLA’s practice went a bit shorter on the third day, but it was probably UCLA’s best practice of the fall so far, with the quarterbacks looking especially sharp and the team working in light shoulder pads. Brett Hundley and Asiantii Woulard both had their best days of the fall, with Woulard standing out in particular. He was excellent during 11 on 11, throwing the ball with more consistent zip and actually fitting in a few tough throws. It was an especially impressive performance since he was working with many of the 2s and 3s and often was competing against the first string defense.
Hundley also looked good, and made a few excellent back shoulder throws down the sideline. He’s clearly developing a rapport with Eldridge Massington, who made an easy half dozen catches during team periods. Massington’s big body allows him to essentially post up over the middle, giving Hundley a pretty big target.
On the news side of things, Cameron Griffin was back at practice but in a sling on his left arm. Alex Redmond sat out the last chunk of practice with what looked like heat-related cramping issues. Thomas Duarte also looked like he got nicked up a little bit and spent the last bit of practice on a bike. None of it looked particularly serious. Conor McDermott sat out most of practice, getting a day of rest as he continues to get back into the swing of things.
With McDermott out, there was some interesting movement on the offensive line. Malcolm Bunche, who has slotted in as the right guard, moved to left tackle, and Caleb Benenoch moved to right tackle. Scott Quessenberry moved into Bunche’s spot at right guard. Obviously it’s just one day, but Bunche looks much better at tackle than he did in the fall. He matched up with Owamagbe Odighizuwa most of the day and got the better of him virtually every play, consistently keeping Odighizuwa in front of him. He doesn’t have super quick feet, so Odighizuwa was able to beat him on a spin move, but his length and strength allowed him to redirect whoever he was matched up against most of the day. Klemm said afterward that he thinks he might have found his left tackle.
Defensively, Jayon Brown and Aaron Wallace both worked with the first team, in place of Isaako Savaiinaea and Kenny Orjioke. Brown has been impressive through the first three practices, looking equally capable of dropping into coverage or knifing into the backfield to blow up running plays.
We really like what we’ve seen from Kenny Young so far. He blew up a couple of running plays that had the sidelines hollering during the first run of team drills. On one of them, he shed an offensive lineman and then knocked Craig Lee to the ground. He also looked very good ranging to the sideline, and as we said on Monday, he looks the part physically. Zach Whitley also had a nice day working back into team drills, and looked decidedly more comfortable than he did in the spring.
Devin Lucien has looked very technically sound through the first three practices, catching every ball with perfect technique, running great routes, and even getting open sometimes against Fabian Moreau, who has mostly locked down everyone he’s gone against. Lucien and Eric Yarber both told us afterward that Yarber talked to him about being a leader this year, and the message looks like it’s gotten through.
John Lopez had a nice moment, pulling on a run and making a nice block to spring Craig Lee for a run. Lee again looked impressive carrying the ball, but Jordon James had the run of the day, doing one of his patented joystick type runs in red zone drills where he went untouched through the middle of the defense, weaving his way through.
Tahaan Goodman made – or almost made – another incredibly athletic play today. During 7-on-7, when he was trailing covering the slot receiver headed to the sideline, he saw the quarterback throw behind him over the middle and was able to shift his weight and tip the ball in the space of about a second. He nearly intercepted the pass, and against most safeties, the ball probably would have been a touchdown.
Myles Jack had a funny moment during 7-on-7. On the first or second pass, Brett Hundley dumped it off to Paul Perkins, and Jack was right there for the play. Jack yelled to Hundley, “You’re going to get your running back killed, Brett.” Then, about fifteen minutes later, it was virtually the same situation, this time with Steven Manfro, and again Jack was right there, so this time he yelled, “So you’re trying to get all of your running backs killed then.”
Jaleel Wadood made plays again, this time jumping a route during 7-on-7 and nearly picking it off. He has great quickness and instincts, and it’ll just be a question of how he can tackle against the bigger athletes he’ll face in the Pac-12. He’s consistently running with the 2s in practice at safety and nickel.
UCLA ran a lot of nickel defensively today, but also worked in a fair amount of base defense. Again, it seems that Priest Willis is being given a long look as the fifth defensive back in the rotation. He had an up-and-down day, making a few nice plays in the red zone but then getting lost on a few coverages.
Taylor Lagace showed some good hands again at fullback, catching a nice ball out of the backfield and making a good cut. Nate Iese has been the recipient of dozens of dump-off throws so far in camp, so it appears that position is going to be utilized a fair amount. Iese continues to look like an athletic beast, and he had a couple of big runs after the catch today.
Ka’imi Fairbairn went 7-for-7 on field goals, with a long of 36 yards at the end of practice.
Third Practice Report
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