UCLA practiced in full pads Friday for the first time this fall camp, with both sides generally showing well in the trenches where those pads have the most effect.
Pass protection was mostly solid, run blocking was consistent and, on the defensive side, there was a good mix of pressure and containment.
Yet perhaps the most impressive moment of the session happened outside the pocket on a designed roll out for Josh Rosen, who has looked more comfortable throwing on the move this camp than he did even in the spring. On the play, Rosen rolled to his right off a play action and found a streaking Cameron Griffin, who had just leveled a linebacker at the line of scrimmage. Griffin went onto score from about 40 yards out without being touched.
It would be expected that a fullback would thrive when the full pads are on and Griffin did exactly that Friday. Earlier near the goal line, Griffin paved the way for a Soso Jamabo touchdown and, on the very next play, caught a pass on the flat before storming into the end zone. Jamabo had one of the better plays among the running backs, breaking to his left when a gap closed inside and flattening Jaleel Wadood with his shoulder on his way to a big gain down the sideline.
Rosen had another good completion to Kenny Walker while rolling right, although it might not have been the best decision to throw across his body into traffic. Still, it worked and Marques Tuiasosopo said afterward that Rosen has shown improvement in his decision making that he's not concerned about that being too common.
Rosen had a long touchdown toss to Ishmael Adams, who was most impressive among the receivers. Adams, in fact, was a headache throughout the session and blew by Octavius Spencer a few times in one-on-one battles. Alex Van Dyke had another nice day, with his highlight being a leaping grab over Nate Meadors in the corner of the end zone on a great throw from Mike Fafaul, who had another steady performance and seems to be pulling away with the No. 2 spot behind Rosen.
The defensive line put on a good performance while also integrating veteran Deon Hollins to the first-unit at one of the end spots. He, Jayon Brown and Cameron Judge teamed on a blitz that suffocated Rosen, and then Eddie Vanderdoes got to the quarterback by beating Kenny Lacy inside. Hollins, in fact, was perhaps a bit too antsy to make an impact when he was in there with the starters, at one point lunging at yellow jersey-wearing Matt Lynch and tipping the ball from his hand as he threw. Jim Mora pulled Hollins aside and reminded him not to touch the quarterbacks.
Scott Quessenberry, meanwhile, put a good block on Kenny Young to open a running lane for Bolu Olorunfunmi inside. He struggled a bit against Eli Ankou in one-on-one battles, but fared much better on run plays during 9-on-7 and 11-on-11.
Elsewhere in linemen one-on-one, Poasi Moala had some very good reps against Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Kolton Miller was dominant facing Matt Dickerson, beating him twice and making sure to let him hear about it. Moala also set a few nice blocks in the run game and looks comfortable sealing his gap.
At left tackle, Cristian Garcia won his reps against Keisean Lucier-South and true freshman Alex Akingbulu did very well against another speed rusher, Breland Brandt. Akingbulu might not be very big now, but he's shown to be tough, athletic and has potential at that spot. Later during 11-on-11, he picked up pressure well off the edge to help Devon Modster connect with Christian Pabico for a touchdown. Rick Wade had his way with Andre James on the other side of the line, and that's been a seesaw battle throughout camp.
On the interior, Najee Toran held up nicely against Boss Tagaloa, pushing him back on one rep. And interestingly enough, fullback Ainuu Taua got a look at nose tackle in one-on-one battles as well.
The increased contact was accompanied by a few players having to see trainers. Fabian Moreau left the action on two separate occasions, but returned to participate late. His health, of course, is key to the secondary since he's so gifted in coverage. Moreau had a number of strong reps against Eldridge Massington throughout the session. With Moreau off, senior Marcus Rios filled the spot with the first team defense.
The order at return duties went as follows: Stephen Johnson III, Jordan Lasley, Walker, Adams, Damian Alloway, Wadood and Spencer. Lasley actually had his best practice of camp, making some great grabs against good coverage and later finding open space to give Fafaul an easy touchdown throw.
Brandon Stephens had probably his best run of camp, breaking outside during 9-on-7 and using a great block from Josh Wariboko for a good chunk of yardage. He later punched it in at the goal line.
J.J. Molson hit three of four field goals.
With Mique Juarez not at practice, Brandt got work with the second-unit linebackers alongside Isaako Savaiinaea and Josh Woods.
Offensive lineman Michael Alves seemed to favor his right knee during one-on-one battles and was sidelined for the rest of practice. True freshmen Theo Howard (hamstring) and Paco Perez (knee) remained out and off to the side doing conditioning work with Sal Alosi.
Calabasas (Calif.) five-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, perhaps UCLA's top priority on defense in the 2017 class, was in attendance along with his father and several club teammates.