RB Bolu Olorunfunmi (Photo by STeve Cheng)

Passing Game Continues To Struggle On Monday

Apr. 11 -- The offense struggled to get a whole lot going once again in the passing game, but the running backs continued to impress...

UCLA practiced without full pads and without Jim Mora (who had to miss practice for a funeral) on Monday, but the practice was more of the same story we've seen so far this spring. The defense looked pretty good, the running game got going for a few nice runs during 11-on-11s, but the passing attack continues to be a major work in progress.

The protection wasn't good again on Monday, but even when UCLA gave Josh Rosen time to throw, he was really off-target, just looking a little out of sync all day. He threw one bad interception to William Lockett during 7-on-7, but was sailing throws most of the day. He was under fire quite a bit to start out the practice, so he might have just been pressing a little bit when he actually started to get a little time. In any case, it wasn't his best day. He still had a couple of nice connections to a few receivers, though, including a really well-thrown out to Alex Van Dyke during 11-on-11.

The offensive line was mostly the same that we've seen, with Conor McDermott and Kolton Miller at the two tackle spots, Scott Quessenberry at center, Najee Toran at left guard, and then Poasi Moala and Kenny Lacy alternating at right guard. Lacy looked like he got more reps with the 1s today. The tackles are doing more out of a three-point stance than they've ever done, which is probably causing them some issues in pass protection.

Darren Andrews had a nice day, and had a really nice play in 1-on-1s, just looking way too quick for Adarius Pickett on one rep where he got about six yards of separation from Pickett within a couple of seconds off the line. Theo Howard also looked very quick and tough to deal with, which was good to see. The receivers and tight ends as a group struggled with drops, though, with Nate IeseAustin RobertsAlex Van Dyke, and Kenny Walker all dropping catchable balls at various points. Walker is probably the best on the team at getting open, and has really improved his route-running, but hands continue to be an issue.

In a really cool play during running back/linebacker 1-on-1s, Ainuu Taua rumbled down the sideline against a walkon linebacker and actually made a really nice over-the-shoulder catch. He has soft hands for a big guy. 

The running backs were all impressive, but Bolu Olorunfunmi was probably the standout today. He has such a nice, physical style of running and he has improved his explosiveness and quickness from where it was a year ago. UCLA has a really nice trio of backs.

In an interesting wrinkle, Stephen Johnson took a rep at cornerback today, which could be a sign of things to come. He got burned a little on the play, but as we've mentioned before, he has the potential to be a very good cornerback, and with the amount of bodies that have gone down in the defensive backfield, it might make sense to give him some reps there to see if he can make an impact

Isaako Savaiinaea worked primarily with the 1s today at middle linebacker, alongside Jayon Brown and Cameron Judge. Brown was once again all over the field making plays, and it would be an absolute shock if he didn't lead the team in tackles this year. He just has such a natural nose for the ball.

Jaleel Wadood worked with the first string at cornerback today, with Adarius Pickett and Tahaan Goodman as the first string safeties. Wadood actually looks pretty good at corner, with nice quickness and good instincts for the position.

Takkarist McKinley had a really nice day rushing the passer during 11-on-11, but McDermott looked like he won each of their two battles during 1-on-1s. Eli Ankou and Nick Terry continue to have nice springs, and Terry was especially tough for the offensive line to handle. About the only time he was cleanly blocked was when the offensive line doubled him.

UCLA had a bunch of offensive linemen out to watch practice today, notably including Henry Bainivalu and Andrew Vorhees. It would be key to land Vorhees especially now that Will Farrar has decommitted.

UCLA will be back on the field on Wednesday at 7 AM.


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