Saturday Practice Report

Apr. 11 -- It was the first day of heavy scrimmaging, and a few offensive players stood out...

UCLA did its first heavy scrimmaging of the spring on Saturday and, as promised, every quarterback rotated with the ones.

The two standouts were pretty clearly Josh Rosen and Asiantii Woulard, but, and we don't mean to harp on this, the degree of difference between Rosen and Woulard was still pretty substantial. With Rosen's first series with the first string offensive line, they started him off with two consecutive false starts. No matter. Rosen then marched the team downfield with a screen to Starks, a perfect throw to Thomas Duarte in a very tight window over the middle, and then an incredible wheel route to Roosevelt Davis down the right sideline for a nearly 35 yard gain. He finished the drive with another perfectly thrown ball to Duarte in the back of the endzone, lofting the ball just over the outstretched defensive back's hands. He went 6 of 7, with the one missed pass a miscommunication where Jordan Payton seemed to indicate that he wasn't sure of the play call.

And here's the thing: that wasn't his most impressive series. Later, Rosen took his turn with the twos, and it was a much rougher series. Rosen was under fire on virtually every throw, but he showed off excellent footwork and pocket presence to avoid the rush, set his feet, and fire the ball downfield. He's not going to be able to scramble like Brett Hundley, but he has a great ability to buy time to throw, with very good feet and a natural feel for the rush. Obviously, it'll be different when defenders can actually hit him, but it was a very impressive showing.

Woulard, like we said above, was also good, and had one of his best days in 11-on-11 action that we can remember. He looked calm and collected when he was with the ones, and drove down the field with ease. He actually had a laser of a throw to Jordan Lasley that went into a very tight window during his first series that mirrored Rosen's to Duarte on his first series. With the twos, though, Woulard struggled a little bit more, and didn't deal with the pass rush as well as Rosen. He has a tendency to immediately leave the pocket when the rush comes in and go backwards, which can be deadly unless the play is a designed screen. He took one sack that ended up being a 12-ish yard loss that could have been much less if he'd been a little more disciplined. Still, it was a good day for him.

Conor McDermott once again had a very nice day. He was opening up huge holes in the running game with consistency, and had one of the most impressive plays of the day on a run to the outside, blocking Kenny Young into oblivion. He got beat for the first couple of times we've seen this spring, one on an Aaron Wallace rush to the outside and the other on a Najee Toran inside move, but otherwise, he was pretty damn good.

Toran, it should be noted, has consistently looked more comfortable on the defensive line, and had probably his best practice of the spring today. He is looking like he might even be an interior pass rush threat, as he spent a lot of the day breaking into the backfield, even against the first string offensive line. Kenny Lacy had a tough day, but Toran was a big part of making it a rough one for him.

Matt Dickerson was also impressive, like Toran, and looks like he could be a big part of the defensive line this year. He's mostly playing behind Eddie Vanderdoes at that position, but he's also played a little bit behind Takkarist McKinley at the other end spot. He looked quick and explosive as a pass rusher and is also a good enough athlete to pursue ball carriers and make tackles.

Myles Jack looked like a super stud today, like the kind of guy who's going to average double-digit tackles this year. He was in on the tackle on basically every running play and a good portion of the passing plays. He'll still need to continue to work on maintaining his poise (there were a couple of questionable elbows and at least one facemask today), but the positive of having someone as talented as he is at that spot more than makes up for those occasional mishaps.

We'll say this: we're getting to the point where Mossi Johnson is emerging as at least one of the top four receivers, and possibly even one of the top two. He had a couple of really fantastic catches, including one diving one-hander in one-on-ones that was just incredible. He can get open even against players as talented as Myles Jack, and has quickly become one of the go-to targets for both Rosen and Woulard. Obviously, UCLA has an established starting four, but if anyone is making a play to break into that group, it's Johnson.

Alex Van Dyke
Alex Van Dyke was also impressive for the third or fourth practice in a row. His hands look much better than they did through the first couple of days, and he's actually making some really tough catches now. Right now, he projects as a significant rotational player this year. Aaron Sharp also flashed a little bit at receiver today, exploding past the defensive back on a one-on-one rep only to have a poorly thrown ball keep it from being a spectacular play.

Craig Lee had a few really nice runs in the last period of 11-on-11s. He looked very explosive today, and whenever he found a crease, he accelerated quickly through it. He also had a few plays where he ran directly into his offensive linemen, but he is starting to improve in that regard, which is good to see.

We should also say that Colby Cyburt has been surprisingly OK at tight end. Today he caught a touchdown toward the end of 11-on-11 where he came free over the middle and then made a nice move to get to the end zone. He looks like a legitimate tight end, with good size, and he runs pretty well for his size. Obviously, in large part he's a placeholder for incoming freshman Chris Clark at the moment, but Cyburt has been better than expected through the first seven practices.

Cameron Griffin was giving Kolton Miller a difficult time in their matchups today, looking a little too quick and fast for Miller to handle. Miller adjusted as the day went on, and looked much better by the end of the day, which is good to see.

Marcus Rios and Fabian Moreau were probably the two best corners today, as they have been through most of the practices so far. Moreau gave Kenny Walker no breathing room during one-on-ones, and Rios again looked very good in coverage against a variety of receivers.

There were plenty of recruits in attendance, and for the full list, go here. Also in attendance was former defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy and former offensive lineman Lacy Westbrook.

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