In other injury news, Jake Brendel made his way to the practice field but didn’t participate. His leg was immobilized with what looked like a small brace, but he was able to put his full weight on it. We were told after practice that it’s an MCL injury, but isn’t expected to be serious.
Jordan Lasley had another good practice today, looking smooth and quick during receiver drills. He does a great job of dropping his weight through his routes and he showed natural hands during practice today. He’s working as an outside receiver at the moment, but he looks like he could have the skill set to play both the inside and outside receiver positions. Obviously we’re just two days in with Lasley, but he looks like he could play this year.
Alex Van Dyke continues to look more comfortable as fall camp continues. He looked a little slow off the line through the first two practice, but he has looked much quicker and more explosive over the last few days. He was matched up against mostly walkon cornerbacks during individual drills, so it’s difficult to take too much from him catching most of the balls thrown his way, but the way he moved and cut was impressive for a guy his size.
The offense had a very rough day today. With Brendel, Scott Quessenberry, and Carl Hulick all out, Ben Wysocki worked at first string center and struggled mightily with his snaps. There were at least six or seven completely botched snaps, and about half of them were off in some way or another. It threw off the timing of the entire offense, and made Brett Hundley look pretty jittery.
The first string offensive line to start the day was Malcolm Bunche, Kenny Lacy, Wysocki, Najee Toran, and Caleb Benenoch from left to right, but Toran went down with an undisclosed injury about halfway through practice, which pushed Benenoch to right guard and inserted Poasi Moala into the lineup. They didn’t do a terrible job pass-blocking or run-blocking, but the snaps were consistently off.
On the bright side of things, Jordon James made his way back to the practice field and even worked in some of the team drills. He didn’t get a ton of work, but we’d imagine he’s in the process of working his way back. During blocking drills, he was clearly the best blocker among the running backs, with Paul Perkins or Adarius Pickett looking like the second best.
Kenny Young was extremely impressive during that period, looking like a man among boys. Pickett did a nice job against Eric Kendricks, and then Young stepped in and blew Pickett back by about four or five yards on a pure bull rush. He then did much the same thing to Perkins. Young once again spent a considerable amount of time with the first string defense and looked good.
The defensive secondary had some interesting movement today. With Randall Goforth out, Tahaan Goodman naturally moved into that first string safety spot. In an interesting wrinkle, though, Jaleel Wadood took over the other safety spot and Anthony Jefferson dropped down to cornerback, pushing Priest Willis to second string corner. Jefferson, for his part, looked very good at corner, locking up Eldridge Massington a day after virtually no one on the team could cover him. Jefferson had two near-interceptions where he broke perfectly on the ball. We liked him more at corner heading into last season, and it’ll be interesting to see if that move is more than just an experiment.
The team, in general, looked a little lethargic today, with heavy legs. Jim Mora had to restart a drill again at the beginning of practice because the team wasn’t bringing the desired level of energy. After the first half hour or so, the practice seemed to pick up, but the Lucien injury deflated it again toward the end.
Fabian Moreau looked impressive again today. There are moments where he gets blown off the receiver early in the route, and then seemingly jogs right back into the picture. He has an uncanny knack for anticipating the way a receiver is going to cut, and then finding a faster way to get to the same spot. He has looked great in man coverage, and the traits of several of the defensive backs would suggest that UCLA could play a lot more man this year.
Pickett had another nice run during red zone drills, and looks like he’s taking to all the aspects of the position pretty naturally. We didn’t see Craig Lee get much work today, but he was back out at practice after getting booted by Mora yesterday.
Mossi Johnson and Myles Jack continued their battle in 1-on-1s from yesterday, and once again, it looked like Johnson got the better of him. He’s already very technically sound in his route-running, which is rare for a freshman, and he has great quickness which makes it tough for even an uber-athlete like Jack to recover. To Jack’s credit, he is clearly relishing the challenge, and did break up a couple of throws to Johnson.
Cameron Judge, who hasn’t gotten a lot of ink this camp, has worked mostly at outside linebacker, and has actually looked OK rushing the passer. He has really shined, though, in pass coverage. During 1-on-1s with the running backs, he consistently stuck to whoever he was matched up against, including Jordon James and Paul Perkins.
Jerry Neuheisel had probably his best day of camp today. His arm looked a little stronger, and he was able to make a few throws downfield. He had one very nice play where he was moving to his left and directed his outside receiver to go long, but then threw back across his body to the slot receiver coming over the middle. It was the kind of heady play you’d want from a backup quarterback.
There were a ton of drops today among the receivers, with Jordan Payton, Johnson, Eldridge Massington, and others all dropping balls at various points.
Ka’imi Fairbairn made all of his field goals during the actual team period, but missed a 45 yarder during warmups. He did hit an impressive 56 yarder to end practice.