UCLA's First Spring Practice in Pads

Apr. 2 -- The first spring practice in pads allowed for the running backs to shine, while pass protection is still a little spotty...and Josh Rosen makes some NFL-like throws...

It was the first day in pads this spring for the Bruins. 

The offensive line is struggling in pass protection. While it makes it difficult to assess the new passing game with the quarterbacks given very little protection, it’s pretty common for the OL to struggle at pass pro just a few days into spring.  The centers, too, had a bit of a rough day with their snaps, and their exchanges from even under center. 

Guard Kenny Lacy jumped a number of times and had to run laps. 

The running backs as a group had a good day. Sotonye Jamabo is running with more power, Bolu Olorunfunmi might have had the most consistent day, breaking a number of runs, and Nate Starks also flashed on some runs. Jamabo, in redzone, burst through the middle of the line for a nice, physical, 20-yard touchdown run.  Olorunfunmi was finding the edge well and putting his shoulder down to bowl over would-be tacklers.

If there was an MVP of the defense it was probably linebacker Jayon Brown. He had a pick, a number of break-ups, tackles for loss and a big tackle at the goal line to keep the ballcarrier out of the endzone.  

Jayon Brown on the pick (LB Coach Scott White in background)

Kenny Young spent most of the time at the Mike LB spot with the 1s.   Freshman LB Mique Juarez had a couple of good moments in pass coverage. Josh Woods continues to show well, but did get his bell rung a bit in 7-on-7 and had to sit out for a while. The second string LBs for Saturday were Juarez, Isaako Savaiinaea and Woods, and that unit had some moments, even though Brown really had the spotlight among the linebackers. 

Josh Rosen made a few throws that looked NFL-ish, pin-point accurate – so much so that receiver Jordan Lasley, after a perfect throw to him in the back of the endzone, said, “Great throw, number three!” Rosen thought the game well last season as a true freshman, but it looks pretty clear, after just three practices this spring, his grasp of offensive concepts has gotten even more sophisticated.

After Rosen, though, the rest of the quarterbacks are struggling to supply some good balls for the drills. Freshman Matt Lynch is getting better, and made a few more decent throws Saturday, but he’s still struggling overall, as you would expect

Ishmael Adams is looking comfortable and very effective at getting separation as a wide receiver.

Receiver Kenny Walker is running with the ones, but he still just hasn’t developed reliable hands.  He probably gets separation more than any other receiver on the team, but can’t consistently bring in the catchable balls he should.  If he had just caught perhaps two more throws today that he bobbled he would have had a very good day. 

Tight end Austin Roberts doesn’t necessarily look greatly explosive, but he has a knack for getting open. Rosen found him twice in a row in 11-on-11. 

The offense utilized quite a bit of the I formation today, with a fullback and a tailback, and the quarterback going under center.

JC transfer DT Nick Terry again looked good, getting a couple of tackles for loss, and holding up his blocker well.

-- The DL has some good edge rushers, with Deon Hollins, Takkarist McKinley and now Keisean Lucier-South. Each of them had at least one virtual sack Saturday. 

The two guys getting time at kick-off return were Stephen Johnson and Theo Howard.

Freshman kicker J.J. Molson and walk-on freshman kicker Andrew Strauch had a little competition again at the end of practice.  Molson missed from 30 but made 40, while Strauch missed from 30 but made 40, barely. Earlier in the practice Molson missed one and made one from about 33 yards out. 

Walk-on punter Adam Searl is back with the team.

Running back Steven Manfro was absent from practice. 

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