Wednesday Practice Report

Apr. 15 -- Wednesday's was a pretty run-heavy practice, but Josh Rosen made his return and looked good...

It was a taxing day on Wednesday, with a heavy emphasis on the running game and goal line, and most of the plays being run away from where we could stand, so we didn't really get a good view of it. Josh Rosen made his return to the practice field, though, and got all of the reps with the first string during the 11-on-11 periods. He looked good, but it was a limited day for the passing game. He still managed to make some "Wow" worthy throws throughout the practice, including a few where he was under duress and fired perfect strikes into tight windows. He had a great throw into the seam to a walkon that was probably one of the best throws he's made this spring, especially considering he was under pressure.

Mike Fafaul, to be honest, was actually right there with Rosen, especially considering he was working behind the second string offensive line. He made a couple of big-time throws, including two deep outs, one to Jordan Lasley and one to Thomas Duarte, that were basically perfect. He looks a little bigger and, actually, maybe even a little taller than last year (or, we just weren't really paying attention last year when he grew a little). If everyone is on an even playing field, that second-string competition could be a heated one.

The offensive line had a little bit of flux today, with Simon Goines sitting out the majority of team reps and Kolton Miller actually working in with the first string at right tackle. Miller looked really good today, moving better than any right tackle UCLA has thrown out there this spring. He was dominant in the running-game one-on-ones, blowing Takkarist McKinley back on every rep, and then held his own in passing game one-on-ones. Like with Conor McDermott two years ago, Miller is flashing quite a bit of talent and potential this spring, and he's another guy we could see competing for real time this year, and maybe factoring into that right tackle competition.

Connor McDermott v. Matt Dickerson
McDermott continues to be a complete stud, looking excellent in the run-game one-on-ones, blasting Eddie Vanderdoes off the line of scrimmage on one rep, which really just shouldn't be possible for a guy that tall going against a guy that stout. He bends really well for his size, and has really improved his lower body strength.

In other offensive line news, John Lopez has been getting more reps with the second string in the last week, and today worked at second-string left tackle. He was going against mostly walkons during one-on-ones, but he looked powerful in those reps. We'd love to see him in some reps against scholarship defensive linemen, because it'd be great to gauge how he's progressed.

There were a few new injured players, with Alex Van Dyke, Mossi Johnson, and Craig Lee all spending practice on the bikes and working with Sal Alosi. Johnson came up lame Monday during drills, and Lee and Van Dyke looked to do the same during the early periods today. Priest Willis did a little more today during individual drills.

Cameron Griffin flashed a little bit today, looking good in coverage and also getting a couple of "sacks" during team drills. Aaron Wallace also had a nice day, and has had a good two or three practices in a row. As we wrote in the first report of the spring, he looks like he's changed his body a little bit, looking trimmer and quicker.

Jordan Lasley had a really good practice, running a couple of really good corner routes where he got wide open. He gets in and out of his breaks really well, and most cornerbacks really have a hard time sticking with him. He's been very focused the last few practices, and hasn't gotten in a fight in several days. If he can keep this up, he could be a real contributor this year.

Nate Starks had another impressive practice, again looking quicker and shiftier than a year ago. There was a play the other day where I mistook him for Craig Lee when he was running through the defense. OK, I was probably a little drunk, but still, he looks more explosive while maintaining a good deal of power.

As we said, there were a ton of goal-line reps during practice, where the team used a couple of tight ends (Nate Iese and Colby Cyburt) and a big fullback (in this case, Poasi Moala). It'll be interesting to see how the offense continues to adjust to accommodate Chris Clark's arrival in the fall.

The kicking game at the end of practice was rough. The kickers, Ka'imi Fairbairn and walkon Stefan Flintoft, alternated, and both were not great, though Fairbairn was worse. He must have missed three kicks under 40 yards, but was actually better from longer distance, which is a switch for him. You'd really hope for him to be a little more consistent at this point in his career.

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