Monday Practice Report

Three freshmen, Eldridge Massington, Kenny Young and Adarius Pickett, all flashed some talent Monday night, as Brett Hundley has a good night, and Mora gets after it...

Every year in San Bernardino, Jim Mora has a practice where he tends to go off a bit. This year it might have been Monday night.

He re-started practice about 20 minutes in. About an hour in, he backed up practice and re-did some drills. And then he shut down practice early in the middle of field goal. It was a two-time-throw-down-the-hat-in-frustration night for Mora.

Mora, in his video interview, talked about having to sometimes get the team motivated and inspired.

He actually kicked out running back Craig Lee from practice. After yelling at him he told him to leave and Lee left.

The primary injuries were Jake Brendel, who tweaked his left knee; Randall Goforth, who re-tweaked his left shoulder, and Marcos Rios, who had a headache and sat out for precautionary reasons. Mora admitted that Zach Whitley had experienced a concussion. All the other injured remained injured Monday night. Running back Nathan Starks did return and participate.

Two of the suspended freshmen, linebacker Dwight Williams and receiver Jordan Lasley, joined practice, both in just helmets and short, having to go through the acclimatization process.

Eldridge Massington against Ishmael Adams
Despite some lackluster effort at times from the team, it was generally a good practice in terms of performance. Brett Hundley had a good night, not only in one-on-one but in team drills. He effortlessly threw three really nice deep balls that were right on the money, and hauled in by Eldridge Massington and Devin Lucien. In 7-0n-7 he was 10 of 12, throwing both deep and short, and looked more in command than the last few practices.

Besides Hundley, if you were to recognize the guys that stood out it would be Massington, linebacker Kenny Young and newly-converted running back Adarius Pickett.

Massington was exceptional, catching almost everything thrown at him, and showing some stunning strength in being able to fend off defenders. One of UCLA’s best coverage guys, Ishmael Adams, literally bounced off Massington when trying to close on a slant. Massington caught a nice fade for a touchdown over Adams, caught another TD even when Adams committed pass interference, and caught one more touchdown, while also hauling in a number of other great catches. It wasn’t as if Adams did a poor job of covering him, either; it was just that Massington was just too big and strong to knock off his route.

Kenny Young definitely flashed tonight, being given a chance to work with the first-string defense at inside linebacker and definitely taking advantage of the opportunity. Young is obviously a good athlete and has a great body, but what stands out about him the most is that he doesn’t seem confused at all. He looks like a veteran, like he knows his assignments perfectly. Last year Myles Jack really stood out in San Bernardino because of his extreme athleticism, but he looked tentative at times. Young simply doesn’t. With Jack and Young playing in the same unit there is a very impressive ability for the linebackers to be able to range from sideline to sideline. Young made a couple of plays where he ran down a receiver on a quick dump off for little gain. As Mora said in the post-practice interview, it’s significant that Young took huge advantage of being able to work with the ones. It very well could be a case where we look back on Monday night as the day that Young asserted himself and won the open inside linebacker spot.

Adarius Pickett got some carries tonight, and looked very strong with the ball. He broke a number of tackles, three on one play, and like Mora said, runs with weight. It’s very impressive that, just a couple of days after being converted to a running back, that he could have a number of good runs in practice like he did tonight.

Kenny Young
The offensive line is a bit of a sewn-together entity at this point of fall camp. Not only did Brendel go down (even though it was toward the end of practice), Alex Redmond went out after what looked like exhaustion. It was actually after Eddie Vanderdoes blew him up on an inside pass rush. Kenny Lacy stepped in for Redmond, which made him do double-time with the 1s and the 2s, and he looked fine. The starting OL, though, looked a bit fatigued. They were the reason Mora originally got enraged, when the OL failed to hustle from a drill and finish off another. Right tackle Caleb Benenoch looked tired, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa exploited it a few times.

It appears that Asiantii Woulard is edging ahead in the competition for the #2 quarterback spot. He had a solid night, only fluttering a few balls, mostly completing the simple passes in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 to keep a drive alive.

Running back Paul Perkins had a good night, showing off an ability to make defenders miss once he’s beyond the line of scrimmage. Steven Manfro also was his usual self of finding holes and slicing through.

Receiver Devin Lucien and cornerback Fabian Moreau continued their war with another battle tonight, and you’d probably have to give it to Lucien. Of course, Moreau had his moments, but this time Lucien caught a few more than usual with Moreau covering him. When Lucien moved to the other side of the field and had Priest Willis covering him he took advantage of it. It wasn’t that Willis actually didn’t cover well, but Lucien just got the better of him on some well-played reps from both of them. It just appeared that Lucien, after so many days going mostly against Moreau, really recognized he could get more separation from Willis, and so did Hundley, who looked for that match-up a few times.

Mossi Johnson had a number of good moments, looking like he’s getting his confidence back as he returns from the shoulder injury. He dropped some balls, but looked explosive in the seam. He went up against Jack a few times and, even though he dropped a couple passes, was able to make a couple of quick cuts and lose Jack. He also looks physically bigger than he was in spring.

A young defensive back that had a few good moments was Denzel Fisher. He came up and made a couple of very sure tackles in the open field on Massington, which is no small feat.

On the defensive line, Vanderdoes might have had his best practice, not looking as fatigued and actually physically manhandling some OLs in the process. As we reported, Vanderdoes has been getting familiar with some of the new movement on the DL he missed when it was installed in spring, and that has set him back a bit in San Bernardino, but he looked like he was getting it a bit more Monday.

Brett Hundley
Deon Hollins now looks like he’s getting a bit more time with the ones than Kenny Orjioke or Aaron Wallace. But it definitely looks like the coaching staff intends to use all three of them situationally. The defense utilized a lot of its base look tonight, and in team drills, with game simulation of down and distance, Wallace tended to be in on first down, and Hollins in obvious passing downs. Hollins also spent more time on the field when the defense was in the nickel.

There was a little more use of the 3-4-4 tonight it seemed. Tahaan Goodman stood in for the injured Goforth, and in the 3-4-4, Adams swung out to the outside corner spot. There was definitely a good amount of man coverage out of this, which they can do when you have a linebacker like Myles Jack who can cover.

We got our look of the two new freshmen on the field. Linebacker Dwight Williams looked completely gassed from the conditioning drills. Receiver Jordan Lasley, in the early pass-catching drills, looked very quick, fluid and polished. He should look a little fresher than the rest of the receivers, being his first day and not wearing pads. Both Williams and Lasley then spent the team drills on the stationary bikes.

Aaron Sharp, the freshman quarterback who also was not allowed to participate in fall camp up until this point, is expected to join the team Tuesday.

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