Monday UCLA Football Practice Report

Apr. 18 -- The defense got the upper hand on Monday, with Josh Rosen not looking particularly sharp and Takkarist McKinley having a really disruptive day...

If this past week was the week of the offense starting to click, Monday was a return to the feel from the first two weeks of camp, when the defense was really the dominant force on the field. UCLA really struggled to get things going in the passing game especially on Monday, with Josh Rosen seeming to struggle with timing after sitting out Saturday's practice with a sore hip.

Mike Fafaul actually performed the best among the quarterbacks on Monday, and connected on the two best throws of the day, a long bomb to Ishmael Adams down the sideline in 11-on-11, and then another nice throw to Adams that split between two defenders in a later period. Fafaul's arm seemed to be flagging last week, but he threw with plenty of zip today.

Rosen just seemed a bit off target all day. He was under fire from the pass rush, which probably won the day overall against the offensive line, but even when he had some time he wasn't his sharpest. His best throw of the day was a nice rope to Austin Roberts, but Roberts dropped it. It was just that sort of day for Rosen and the passing game.

Josh Woods and Mique Juarez both returned to the practice field and did more than they did on Saturday. Juarez shadowed the linebackers most of the day, mimicking their movements to get some semi-physical reps in during 11-on-11. At times, it looked like he was playing safety because he was so close to the action, which must have been confusing for the quarterbacks.

The depth chart was pretty much what it has been. Today was Isaako Savaiinaea's day with the ones at middle linebacker, so Kenny Young was with the twos. Tahaan Goodman and Jaleel Wadood were the first-string safeties, with Adarius Pickett running with the twos. Kenny Lacy worked with the ones a bit more at guard in place of Poasi Moala.

William Lockett continued his nice spring with another pass breakup. He was with the twos for the most part today, it looked like. Takkarist McKinley had another pass breakup off the edge again today, and we haven't seen an edge rusher tipping passes this often in practice since Anthony Barr. He has a knack for getting in and making a play, whether it's a sack or a tipped ball.

Conor McDermott had a nice battle with Rick Wade in one-on-ones where Wade was actually able to bullrush McDermott back quite a bit before the tackle held up in front of the pocket. If there's one thing McDermott still needs to improve on, it's his ability to handle that big, strong defensive end who can use power against him, and Wade provides a good matchup in that regard.

Wade actually had one of his best days in one-on-ones, and on the following rep, he blew right by Andre James on a nice little dip move. He also tipped a ball during 11-on-11 and just looked more effective overall than eh has earlier in the spring. James didn't have a great practice, and seemed to struggle in 11-on-11 as well from what we saw.

Bolu Olorunfunmi once again had probably the best run of practice, a nice off-tackle move that went for about 30 yards down the sideline before he was knocked out of bounds by Jayon Brown. Brown, for his part, had another great practice, and actually had a sack on Rosen during 11-on-11. Pass rush is not usually part of his game, but he was freed up for a little blitzing today.

Pickett made a really nice play on the ball during 11-on-11. Recognizing that Rosen was looking deep, Pickett faded back out of a short zone and actually almost came up with an interception on a deep post to Ishmael Adams. Even if he didn't get the pick, he did break up the play badly, and it's great to see that kind of recognition from him.

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Najee Toran had some nice battles during 1-on-1s, and while Toran didn't have his best day in pass protection, he seems to be making progress, especially since the beginning of spring. As Adrian Klemm talked about during his post-practice interview, Toran needs to control his natural aggression during pass protection, because he has a tendency to lunge and get his weight off balance.

Dechaun Holiday was a little ill and sat out a portion of practice. Jim Mora complimented him on his play this spring, though, and said he's down to 210 pounds, which is a good weight for him. He said he and Holiday actually talked about potentially playing receiver last Thursday, but Mora likes the way he looks at safety and isn't yet anticipating making the switch.


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