Saturday UCLA Football Practice Report

Apr. 16 -- Josh Rosen didn't practice on Saturday, and the defense tended to dominate without Rosen at quarterback...

Josh Rosen didn't practice on Saturday, with Jim Mora citing hip soreness as the reason for Rosen sitting. It's not expected to keep him out for long.

With Rosen out, Mike Fafaul got the majority of the reps with the ones while Matt Lynch got the majority of the reps with the twos. While neither was exceptional, we'd probably give the edge to Lynch on the day. Like we noticed last practice, Fafaul's arm seems to have lost a bit of zip while Lynch has looked increasingly comfortable over the last week. That should be a really interesting competition in fall camp, especially with Devon Modster and potentially Dymond Lee in the mix as well.

The offensive line was once again the same first string as Thursday, with Najee Toran and Poasi Moala manning the two guard spots. Toran had probably his best day of one-on-ones today, twice shutting down Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. The pass protection wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst it's been either, and the quarterbacks had enough to work with to put some drives together during one-on-ones. The red zone offense looks like it's a work in progress, though, as the offense had a tougher time putting the ball in the end zone. That could largely be due to the absence of Rosen, though.

The running backs continue to shine. Today, both Sotonye Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi stood out. Olorunfunmi has really improved his ability to get narrow through holes and avoid taking full-body hits, which was a key for him this offseason. Jamabo has a really interesting pace to his running style that seems to throw off defenders -- while his top-end speed is not super elite, he changes speeds really well and has great body control. As we've written, he's also running tougher with more physicality.

The starting receivers looked to be Eldridge MassingtonKenny Walker, and Darren Andrews at slot. Andrews had a really impressive catch on a badly thrown ball by Fafaul where Andrews had to reach behind his head to snag the ball away from Jaleel Wadood. We haven't seen a whole lot from Massington yet in camp, but Walker continued his solid spring with another very good day where he showed great ability to get open.

Takkarist McKinley had a really nice day in 11-on-11, looking very dirsuptive off the edge. He tipped a pass on one of the first plays of the team period on a play where he probably could have had the sack if it was a full-speed contact drill. He's added some weight and just looks like a much more complete, confident player this spring. Matt Dickerson had a great rep in one-on-ones against Kolton Miller where he used his violent hands to throw Miller aside and get to the quarterback.

Nathan Meadors had a number of good tackles in space on running plays, which is always nice to see from a cornerback. He had a really great tackle on Nate Starks in a one-on-one situation.

Ainuu Taua had a nice day opening up holes in the running game, including a great block to spring Jamabo for a long run in the first 11-on-11 period, but he also had at least three false starts. That might have been a cadence thing, but you obviously can't have your fullback false starting that often.

We'd be remiss not to mention the very nice camp William Lockett is having this spring. He's been very good in run support especially, showing a nice physicality and willingness to hit. We didn't really have many expectations for Lockett coming into camp, but he looks like a contributor at this point, at the very least on special teams.

At linebacker, this was Kenny Young's day to run with the ones, but it was really just more of the Jayon Brown show. Brown has been UCLA's best defensive player this spring, and just looks like he's made a huge leap from last season, when he was already the best linebacker on the team.

Stephen Johnson continues the cornerback experiment, and as we've said, it's going to take some time for him to get fully comfortable there. There are flashes of ability, but he's still raw in terms of his technique. The offseason should be good for him if they fully commit to the position switch.

Lokeni Toailoa has been another pleasant surprise. He got his body in good shape heading into spring and he hasn't looked out of place. Pass coverage is always going to be his biggest area to improve, but he's shown great instincts in the running game and he has pursued pretty well for a big guy. We'd probably still lean toward a redshirt for him, but we wouldn't be shocked if he played this year.

Mique Juarez was back out working with Sal Alosi today, which was good to see. Jim Mora said they'd likely hold Juarez out for the remainder of the spring anyway, and likely the same with Breland Brandt, who's scheduled to be back on the field next week. He said there's not really much purpose in rushing them back out for a couple of practices.

J.J. Molson easily won the kicking competition at the end of practice, hitting four of five kicks, with Andrew Strauch missing all but one.


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