It was a little bit hotter on Tuesday, and with the warming temperature, the team seemed to shake off the rust that was apparent yesterday. The tempo was significantly better through basically every drill, from the pat-and-go periods to the team periods at the end of practice.
Josh Rosen, who also looked a bit rusty yesterday, was back to his spring self on Tuesday, throwing pin-point passes all over the field. He had a couple of excellent touch passes over the top of the defense, including a couple to walkon receiver Brad Sochowski. His footwork is what always stands out about him. He does a great job at an early stage of working through his receivers and finding the open guy.
Jerry Neuheisel also had a pretty nice day, and had a couple of excellent deep throws to Kenny Walker over the top where Neuheisel showed great touch to hit him in stride. Walker, actually, had a really nice practice in general, and made a couple of tough catches, including one on a poorly thrown ball from Mike Fafaul where he had to adjust to his back shoulder to make the catch.
Probably the most interesting development was all the tinkering that UCLA did on defense. After seeing primarily 3-4 yesterday, we saw a ton of 4-3 on Tuesday, with Kenny Orjioke actually coming in to work with the first string at the defensive end position opposite Takkarist McKinley. There were also a few interesting dime packages with some different types of fronts. After going through a season where UCLA really didn't run a whole lot of different formations, it looks like we could see many more this season with Tom Bradley in the fold.
There were some changes with the second-string offensive line. Kolton Miller, who worked at left tackle the first day, moved over to right tackle, which allowed Zach Bateman to move from third-string to second-string left tackle. Tevita Halalilo got some second-team reps after Josh Wariboko got the primary reps at left guard yesterday. Halalilo actually had some nice moments, including a great block to spring Nate Starks for a long run during the team drills.
Starks continues to impress. He looks much, much more explosive than he looked last year, or even in the spring. As we said yesterday, he looks like he shed a little bit more weight, but he still looks plenty powerful. The added speed has certainly helped, and he's now had runs in two consecutive practices where he just blew through the secondary on his way to the end zone.
Austin Roberts, has looked very good through two days. He's linin up as a Y, but we think he has the athleticism to make an impact at a variety of different receiver positions. He has good straight ahead speed, and even inhibited by the knee brace, he looks pretty agile for his size. He has caught the ball well two days in a row, and we've heard the coaches are really high on his potential.
Roosevelt Davis always stands out during practices and today was no different. Along with Starks, he probably had the two biggest runs from scrimmage and looked quick and shifty in the open field. Size will always be a hindrance to him, but he's much more talented than a typical 4th or 5th string running back.
Steven Manfro was limited a little bit today after running his shoulder into the ground. He appeared to do some individual drills, but wasn't involved in much team stuff that we saw.
Rick Wade has been impressive through a couple of days here. He's much bigger than I expected, and after getting a longer look at him today, I wouldn't be surprised if he's 250 pounds or more. He had a couple of nice plays today, and, while we still think he could redshirt this year, it's probably not a sure thing.
Among the other defensive linemen, we haven't talked about Kenneth Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes much, but both look like they're in the best shape of their career. Vanderdoes in particular looks good physically. We'll have a more substantial look at the linemen once they're in pads, but those two stand out physically.
Keisean Lucier-South got into some team action today, and he had a pretty good day. He is capable of rushing the passer, and showed some nice ability to dip his shoulder around offensive tackles, but he's a little bit rawer when asked to move around in the open field. With UCLA using more 4-3, we could see him playing a little more defensive end than outside linebacker.
Fabian Moreau and Marcus Rios both had really nice pass breakups today. Moreau's came when he made an excellent break on the ball in zone coverage, but Rios' was really impressive. Alex Van Dyke was open in front of him, and Rosen threw a ball that would have hit him perfectly in the bread basket, but Rios exploded at the last second to reach around Van Dyke to slap the ball away. Rios has looked very good through two days out here.
Aaron Sharp has looked good as well. He looks much more like a receiver this fall than he looked in spring, and seems to have a much better feel for how to run routes, which has allowed his athleticism to shine a little bit more. He's also lost some of that quarterback weight (all that heavy weight in the legs quarterbacks use to push off) which has helped him improve his quickness.
Jordan Lasley has had a pretty good camp, but had to sit out the last portion of practice after getting in a scuffle with Ishmael Adams. Lasley actually kept trying to take reps, but Eric Yarber held him out. It's going to be key for Lasley to continue to harness his emotions going forward.
In a really encouraging note, Kenny Young looks much more comfortable in pass defense. If you remember last year, he often had to come off the field on passing downs, but he had a couple of nice breakups downfield today and looked much more comfortable matching up against running backs out of the backfield. He and Myles Jack both seem poised for big years.
Sotonye Jamabo looks like he's going to get every opportunity to be a featured part of this offense. He has so much versatility that the staff is clearly going to experiment with him as a running back, receiver out of the backfield, or even potentially in Wildcat formations. We haven't seen incredible speed from him yet, but he's shown good open field quickness so far.
As you can tell by the tone of this report, it was a much more encouraging day overall than day one. The team seemed much more energized, and, unlike yesterday, the quarterbacks were good enough that the offense more than held its own against the defense. Some of that may have been due to the defense trying out some new formations, but it was encouraging to see the offense perform well against what should be a very good defense this year.
Defensive lineman Kyon Clark was in attendance, and it sounds like he ended up a junior college. He'll most likely give UCLA another shot in a couple of years when he finishes his AA.
UCLA will practice again tomorrow at 3 p.m.
UCLA Tuesday Practice Report
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