UCLA Football Friday Practice Report

Aug. 14 -- It was the hottest day of camp and the first day of pads for the Bruins...

It was definitely the hottest day of fall camp today, with temperatures apparently climbing into the 108-degree range. It was also the first day of pads, which isn't exactly the best combination of factors.

Today also marked the first really serious dust-up of fall camp. Myles Jack and Conor McDermott got into it during one of the last team periods toward the end of the day. There were a couple of punches thrown on both sides, but then Jack wouldn't let it go, even after a ten-minute cool-off period, and eventually had to be escorted off the field by linebackers coach Scott White. Jack has a temper, as has been well-documented, but you have to hope he manages it a little bit better going forward.

UCLA continues to split up the quarterback reps on a pretty even rotation. Today, Mike Fafaul got most of the reps with the ones and Josh Rosen got the majority of reps with the twos, with Jerry Neuheisel probably getting the fewest of the three today, with most of his reps coming with the ones in the latter part of the day. Rosen looked much better than he did yesterday, and appeared to be seeing the defense a lot better. He seemed to really settle into a rhythm toward the second half of practice and was once again nearly perfect during the 7-on-7 period to end his day. Hopefully for him, yesterday was just kind of a blip as the offense dealt with extensive and exotic pressure for the first time. There was actually still a significant amount of pressure today, but Rosen managed it much better. He also hit a few of those Rosen-type throws that no one else on the team can hit (e.g. a long streak down the sideline that had to be threaded in between a couple of defenders, a pair of bullet passes over the middle, etc.)

Neuheisel didn't have his best day. Neuheisel struggled with those same passes that Rosen hit today, in particular struggling with throws over the middle that just didn't have enough zip on them. Neuheisel's a smart, heady player, and he does a great job of using his checkdowns, but there are some real limitations to the offense when he's in that Rosen mostly removes. Fafaul actually had a pretty good day, and was really effective in his first series of 11-on-11.

Eddie Vanderdoes was really noticeable today, in a very good way. During team drills, he was extremely disruptive, and more often than not was able to get a nice push on Kenny Lacy when they were matched up. Even when he wasn't necessarily exploding into the backfield for a tackle, Vanderdoes was still pushing back the play a good couple of yards, which really disrupts the timing. His weight loss has really helped his agility and explosion, and you can see how much he has benefited from a healthy offseason.

Kenny Young had a nice sack during the early team periods, knifing in on a blitz up the middle. UCLA is clearly working on a variety of different blitzes, and while the offense did a better job picking them up today, we're liking the aggression we're seeing from the defense so far through four days.

Paul Perkins really had a nice day. He can make cuts at near right angles at times, and it can tend to make the defense look silly. He has so many tools for a running back, with good acceleration, great hands, excellent vision, great balance, and a veteran ability to change speeds that it makes him really tough to deal with as a defender. With the other running backs, Bolu Olorunfunmi appeared to get nicked up at one point (perhaps an ankle?) but then came back in a little bit later and seemed fine. He continues to impress every day, with a nice combination of quickness and power. Sotonye Jamabo also had probably his best day of practice, with a couple of nice long runs where he showed a good burst.

UCLA has practiced some Wildcat with both Jamabo and Devin Fuller through the first couple of days, and, while we like the addition of some variety to the offense, it might be interesting to see what Stephen Johnson could do in that role. He has a better burst from a standing start than either of those guys, and actually played some quarterback in high school. Jamabo is better when he has a head of steam, so it might be interesting to flip the two, where Johnson is the Wildcat QB and Jamabo is the motion man. From the offense in general, we're seeing a ton more rollouts and play-action than we've seen before, which lends credence to the belief that the offense didn't do a whole lot of that before due to personnel more than anything.

Before Jack left practice, he had another series of nice matchups with Mossi Johnson during one-on-ones. Jack lost one when Johnson ran a really crisp route to the corner of the endzone for a score, but then after that, Jack did a much better job of bodying him up off the line and keeping him from running away. Those matchups continue to be one of the best things about practice.

Denzel Fisher has looked good through the last few days, and has matched up really well with Jordan Lasley. While he's probably playing a tough too physically in the open field, he's showing a great deal of competitiveness and looks more than athletic enough to hang with the vast majority of UCLA's receivers on the outside. His development has been very nice to say this fall.

Darren Andrews had a really nice day today, both in one-on-ones and in 11-on-11. He's been really tough to cover in the slot, with good quickness and good speed. He also hasn't dropped a pass that I've seen.

Yesterday, UCLA spent the first part of the receiver vs. DB period working on two-on-one situations with a wide receiver catching a screen, a blocker, and a defensive back trying to make a play. Today they did much the same drill, but without the blocker. It was the job of the DB to come from about ten yards back on a quick pass to the receiver and make a play. I can't remember seeing those kinds of situations being practices the last few years, though maybe I'm mis-remembering, but it's good to see, since those screens and types of passes became such a big part of UCLA's offenses over the course of last year.

Colin Samuel really shined during that period, showing off a nice edge and physicality. He seemed really eager to hit on day one of full pads, which is sometimes a rarity in a cornerback. He had a couple of reps against Mossi (probably the toughest receiver on the team), and on the first one, Samuel hit him pretty hard, and then on the next, Johnson hammered him right back. Samuel had to take a knee after that rep to catch his breath, but it's good to see that kind of clean physicality in practice.

The OL/DL one-on-ones generally went in favor of the first-string offensive line, but Eli Ankou actually took one off of Alex Redmond today, and Eddie Vanderdoes had one really good rep against Kenny Lacy. Other than that, Conor McDermott and Caleb Benenoch once again bottled up pretty much everyone pitted against them, and Jake Brendel did a nice job handling Kenneth Clark on the interior. Andre James, who hasn't had many positive moments so far in one-on-ones, had his best day, and didn't lose a rep that I saw.

UCLA is back at it again tomorrow, this time with the first two-a-day, starting at 8:30 a.m. The second practice will be at 5:45 p.m.

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