Monday Practice Report

Apr. 6 -- Josh Rosen was excellent during 11-on-11 in his first day running with the ones, and he culminated his day with a perfect strike to Jordan Payton in the end zone...

Today was Josh Rosen's first day running with the ones during spring practice, and his performance was about as good as you could possibly expect. During 11-on-11, he was 16 of 21 for well over 200 yards, but the stats don't really tell the story. He showed excellent command of the offense, getting into his progressions at various points and checking down to running backs or receivers in the flat with ease. But even beyond the mental game, he made at least three throws that we can't remember seeing completed with such ease in at least the last three or four years on Spaulding.

Throw No. 1: On one of his first plays of the day, Rosen rolls right out of the pocket (a rollout!), spies Thomas Duarte coming free about 18 yards downfield and throws a perfect strike on the run. The combo of arm strength, recognition, and feet was truly impressive.

Throw No. 2: This time, Rosen rolls left out of the pocket, spies Duarte coming free even deeper down the field, and in one smooth motion, resets his feet for another perfectly thrown strike that bounces off the tips of Duarte's outstretched hands. Again a designed roll out and again a perfectly thrown ball on the move.

Throw No. 3: In the last 11-on-11 period, Rosen has no one open a couple of seconds into the play and the pocket begins to break down on the edges after a five (or so) step drop. To buy time, Rosen climbs the pocket, sees that Jordan Payton is covered to his front side in the end zone, but that no one is to Payton's backside, and lasers a ball directly to Payton's back shoulder. Payton turns just in time to catch the ball. There was almost an element of playground ball to the play, with Rosen seeing that there was only one place to put the ball where Payton would have a chance and so he threw it there without knowing whether Payton would react in time.

Honestly, it's a little stunning to watch a freshman quarterback perform that way in 11-on-11, especially this quickly. We don't want to sit here building this up more than we need to, but these first four practices have been eye-opening, even for those of us who saw him a ton in high school. We expected there would be a much more significant adjustment to the speed of practice for him, and so far, we really haven't seen it. Defenders certainly react a bit quicker to his poorly thrown balls than they did in high school, so some incompletions in high school are more likely to be picks in college, but his reads and pocket feel are almost exactly the same.

Probably the next most impressive player Monday was left tackle Conor McDermott. We haven't mentioned McDermott much so far in these reports, but that's more oversight than anything. He's looked very good through four practice, and on Monday, he repeatedly stoned Deon Hollins when matched up against him. He moves his feet so well and has only gotten stronger since last season. His backup, Kolton Miller, looked pretty good too, and also had his way with Hollins on a few reps. Miller moves his feet well, and while he's probably not quite as good laterally as McDermott, we wouldn't be shocked to see him competing for that left tackle job in the future.

On Saturday, the OL was definitely the overall victor in the one-on-ones, but on Monday, the defensive line got its revenge. Kenneth Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes both looked extremely powerful during the drills, with Vanderdoes basically pushing aside anyone blocking him. Clark looked like his usual combination of quickness and strength, and made up for Saturday, when Kenny Lacy more or less had his way with him.

Jordan Payton
Aaron Sharp moved to wide receiver today, and looked very comfortable there. He had a few awkward routes to start the day, but by the end of the practice was looking natural. He made a number of tough catches in traffic, and looked like he had good hands. As he gets more comfortable with what he's doing, his natural athleticism should start to shine. He worked at both inside and outside receiver Monday as the coaches experiment with where he could fit best.

Jordan Lasley again had his customary blowup in practice, this time coming to blows with Denzel Fisher after Fisher covered him pretty tightly in one-on-ones. After keeping a lid on it through most of the fall last year, Lasley has been more like his high school self through four practices here, and he's definitely going to need to calm that down if he's going to be an effective player this year. Eric Yarber sat him for a good portion of practice after the incident with Fisher.

Nate Starks again had a pretty nice day, looking quick and strong and really hard to bring down. He looks like he spent some time studying at the Paul Perkins/Johnathan Franklin School of Balance this offseason, as he manages to keep his feet through contact very well. Perkins again looked good, and as others have mentioned, looks like he gained a little bit of weight in his lower body, which has made him a little more powerful of a runner and even harder to bring down. Craig Lee also had a couple of nice runs, and caught a swing pass from Rosen during 11-on-11 that went for a nice gain down the sideline.

The defensive backs generally got the better of the wide receivers during one-on-ones. Two practices after getting schooled by Mossi Johnson, Myles Jack did the schooling on Monday, trucking Johnson to the ground at the line of scrimmage on one play and then covering him expertly downfield on the next. Tahaan Goodman was about the only defensive back who really seemed to lose most of his reps during the period, and even he nearly recorded a pick to end the period. Fabian Moreau, who's had a quiet spring so far, showed up during that period with a nice interception on a jumped route. Thomas Duarte looked a step slow, and he's usually pretty deadly in one-on-one situations, so that might have played into the defensive backs' advantage.

Jaleel Wadood, we'll say again, looks great so far in spring. Today, he had a few great plays in run support. On one play, he diagnosed an outside zone run by Starks before it had even developed and shot a gap to get into the backfield for the tackle.

Takkarist McKinley sat out practice, but according to Jim Mora, he should be fine (apparently his eye swelled up). Eli Ankou made his return to the practice field, albeit just to work out with Sal Alosi on the sideline. The rest of the injured remained the same. Without McKinley, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner worked in with the ones at defensive end. It seems that UCLA is looking to see who could fit at that spot, with Matt Dickerson also getting reps with the ones on Saturday.

Najee Toran, who made the switch from OL to DL for spring, looked like he was struggling in team drills, playing a bit high and unnaturally. But in the one-on-ones, he used his leverage and strength to get the better of JC transfer OL Zach Bateman. It looked almost as if he was making a big step in his transition from OL to DL during Monday's practice.

Cameron Griffin continues to flash high level athleticism. He told us after practice that he's up to 240 pounds. He made a nice pass breakup during 11-on-11 action today, tipping a ball at the line despite being engaged with an offensive tackle.

At punt returner, Sharp, Johnson, Devin Fuller, Ishmael Adams, Randall Goforth, and Lasley all worked out. That's a lot of decent options at returner where previously UCLA didn't have many.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories