Thursday Practice Report

Apr. 9 -- It was a good day for the first string offense with a different quarterback at the helm...

Thursday was Josh Rosen's day with the offense, but it was actually another quarterback who stood out: Mike Fafaul. Granted, Fafaul got all of the first string reps, meaning he was behind a good offensive line, but he looked very sharp, completing throws to all levels and making quick decisions. Rosen got all of his reps with the second string, and he was under fire most of practice. He still completed a few nice throws on rollouts, but it wasn't really a great day for judging his performance.

Though Fafaul looked good, it'll be interesting to see if UCLA adjusts that setup by this time next week. With Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry out, the second string offensive line really struggles in pass protection, and whoever gets those reps isn't really getting a quality look. Obviously, someone has to take them, but ideally, you'd probably want Rosen, who's at the very least in the competition to start this year, getting as many valuable reps as possible.

The first string offense and defense were mostly the same, with a few tweaks. Randall Goforth got some time at corner, which pushed Ishmael Adams to safety. Interestingly, in nickel with that lineup, Marcus Rios moved to nickel and Adams stayed at safety. If you remember, UCLA used Adams at safety at points last year, so it looks like that could be another option this season. Goforth again looked good today. He looks a little bigger since last year, especially through his upper body.

Cameron Judge actually got a few reps with the first string defense at outside linebacker in place of Deon Hollins. Judge had a nice day in one-on-ones, looking good in coverage. He had a nice breakup on a throw from Rosen, undercutting the receiver on a slightly underthrown ball to tip it away.

Cameron Judge
Nate Iese is having a spring very similar to a year ago, where he looks big, fast, strong, and athletic running routes. Linebackers had a lot of difficulty staying with him in one-on-ones. We're really eager to see if he's going to be a more featured part of the offense this year, because otherwise, we'd really like to see him move around more between positions. He's arguably the best jumbo athlete on the team, and if he's just going to be used as a blocking fullback, there's probably more diverse and valuable ways to utilize him.

Craig Lee, it should be noted, is still having a ton of issues in pass protection. During one-on-ones, he got probably seven or eight reps versus linebackers and didn't win a single one, often failing to put a hand on the linebacker rushing the passer. He just doesn't seem to have a great feel for how to use his feet to get in position to make a block, often lunging with his arms rather than moving his legs. He ran well in drills, but if you're looking for a reason why he hasn't made an impact so far, those blocking drills are a good start.

Eddie Vanderdoes was probably the defensive line star of one-on-ones. He blew by Alex Redmond twice after Redmond beat him yesterday, using his hands to fend off Redmond's punch and then exploding past him. It looks pretty clear at this point that dropping the ten or so pounds since last year has done wonders for Vanderdoes' mobility and quickness. With continued work, getting down to the 300 pound range could make him a considerable force come fall.

Asiantii Woulard and Jerry Neuheisel were both much better today than yesterday, although all of their reps came in 7-on-7 instead of 11-on-11. Woulard in particular looked very sharp, and seemed to be seeing the field better than a year ago, finding receivers in very tight windows. Hopefully he can carry this performance over to Saturday when he gets full team reps again, since it'd be nice for there to be a real competition carrying over into fall. Devin Fuller also got some reps at quarterback in some Wildcat situations, like he did at times last year.

Simon Goines sat out a few of the 11-on-11 periods again toward the end of practice, and was getting his legs stretched on the sidelines at various point. The rest of the injured are mostly the same, with Eldridge Massington also sitting out again. Alex Van Dyke took Massington's reps early in practice and then Logan Sweet took the first string reps later on in practice. Van Dyke continued to shine, and is looking more comfortable by the day.

Jordan Payton and Jordan Lasley both made some nice catches today. Lasley, since having a pretty big blowup basically every day for the first four practice, has been calmer the last couple of days, which is good to see.

Ka'imi Fairbairn, who struggled kicking the ball yesterday, got the day off. In his stead, Stefan Flintoft, the walkon kicker, finished off practice going 6 of 9, with a nice 50-ish yarder to end the day. He was no worse than Fairbairn yesterday, who shanked a few. In other news, Chris Sailer's No. 1 kicker in the 2016 class, JJ Molson, visited today.

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