For a practice in just shorts, it was still a solid practice, with plenty going on.
There were some personnel developments.
-- Starting right offensive guard Alex Redmond wasn’t in practice.
-- Freshman offensive guard Tevita Halalilo wasn’t in practice either. He took a hit to the head and is going through the proper concussion protocol, but he's expected back Tuesday.
-- Freshman tight end Chris Clark, who had been recovering from mononucleosis, participating for the first time, doing most of the individual drills and then going to the injured portion of the field to work with Sal Alosi. Clark does have a light brace on his left knee.
-- Starting OLB/DE Deon Hollins spent his time with Alosi, with linebackers coach Scott White saying his back was a bit tight.
-- Defensive back Ishmael Adams spent most of the individual drills working with Alosi, but then worked into the team drills by the end of practice. He started with the 2s, but then got some time at nickel with the 1s.
-- Receiver Darren Andrews spent practice with Alosi, too.
-- Linebacker Kenny Orjioke experienced some soreness in his surgically-repaired knee and didn’t participate in team.
Clark looked like he was moving a little gingerly on the knee, but in the pass-catching drills looked good and fairly explosive getting up the field for a guy his size. We’ll have some video catching his first passes at a UCLA practice coming soon.
Without Redmond at practice, Poasi Moala stepped in at right guard. And with Halalilo not there, that moved freshman Josh Wariboko to the second-string right guard spot.
When it comes to the rotation at quarterback, today just about all three of the top three QBs got time with the 1s. Jerry Neuheisel had most of the reps early in practice, Mike Fafaul got some also, but then Josh Rosen took most of the first-string reps toward the end of practice. You wouldn’t say really anyone stood out particularly. Rosen made some top-end throws, but Neuheisel was probably more consistent in operating the offense efficiently.
Most of the 11-on-11 was situational, with either redzone situation or backed up on the offense’s goal line. Rosen missed some pretty easy throws, overthrowing a sure slant for a touchdown at one point. But he got more in a groove toward the end of practice, especially when he was matched up against the 2s and 3s on defense. He kept finding Tyler Scott in easy match-ups. Neuheisel, working with mostly the 2s in team, struggled some, mostly finding open receivers, having to take several virtual sacks.
The clear-cut star of the practice was receiver Mossi Johnson. He made play after play, catching everything thrown at him, looking explosive on screens and slants, and then making a few plays with some considerable flair. He absolutely juked freshman Octavius Spencer (the moment captured above) at about the 8-yard line to walk into the endzone; caught one pass thrown to him by Rosen on his opposite shoulder and spun to catch it, which opened up the field for him; and caught another at about the five-yard line and dove for the goal line. There was one point where it seemed like both Rosen and Neuheisel were going to Mossi on at least every other rep.
If you had to name a defensive MVP it might have been cornerback Marcus Rios. Rios provided very good and consistent coverage throughout the practice, and then had two big successive break-ups on Jordan Payton in a row in the 11s.
Freshman receiver Austin Roberts is still trying to play his way into the rotation at receiver, and he had a good day and continues to make a case for himself. Roberts actually had Myles Jack beat on a fade, but the ball was thrown short and tipped up and Jack came down with the pick.
Receiver Kenny Walker had another good day, making a number of nice catches – a nice one over his shoulder and another in the back of the endzone. His hands continue to look much improved.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it does seem like Nate Iese is getting involved in the offense more, and getting more touches. In one sequence during a 7-on-7, Neuheisel just kept going to him. Hopefully this will hold up when they get to the season because the athletic fullback is a potential weapon, especially when he’s being used as a pass-catching tight end.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Denzel Fisher is still playing consistently well, and has really cemented himself in the 2s.
With Hollins not participating, freshman DE/OLB Keisean Lucier-South got a look with the 1s. So did redshirt sophomore Cameron Griffin.
UCLA continues to experiment with the Wildcat, with both Devin Fuller and Sotonye Jamabo taking the snaps.
Jaleel Wadood is probably not getting mentioned enough in our practice reports. While he hasn’t made really spectacular plays, he has been consistently good. But today he made a pretty impressive play, stepping in front of a slant for a nice interception.
On one swing pass to Jamabo, Isaako Savaiinaea blew it up nicely behind the backfield.
Linebacker Jayon Brown had a nice, slicing tackle for loss.
The back-up linebacking crew looks like they’re playing with some considerable swagger, perhaps making this the deepest linebackers group UCLA has had in a while.
In one sequence, freshman Andre James, working at right tackle with the 2s, got called for a hold, and Jim Mora said, “Come on, James. You’re athletic. You’re better than that.”
In attendance was Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake receiver Theo Howard, who just de-committed from Oregon Sunday night. He was being given the royal treatment, driven round in a golf cart for a while. It was regrettable that receivers coach Eric Yarber wasn’t at practice, missing the session due to a commitment he couldn’t avoid.
Another recruit getting some good attention was JC quarterback Anfernee Bruton. Quarterbacks Coach Taylor Mazzone spent a decent amount of time talking to Bruton.
UCLA Monday Morning Practice Report
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