Less than 24 hours after practicing in full pads for the first time this fall camp, UCLA was back in helmets and shells while installing several packages and holding more of a walk-through session.
The big news was the absence of star true freshman Mique Juarez, who missed his second practice in a row. Head coach Jim Mora told reporters Juarez has "an excused absence" and did not answer if or when Juarez would rejoin the team.
While there were various periods of play installation and thorough teaching from all members of the staff, there were also two 11-on-11 portions that included some highlights on both sides.
The offense moved the ball very well, with Josh Rosen showing great command of the pace and cadence as the ball was placed very close to their own goal line. They got out of those sticky situations rather easily, with Rosen drawing an offsides and, later, Soso Jamabo bursting through a hole for a nice gain off to the right. Rosen called a few audibles, too, and seems to have a firm grasp of the offensive concepts.
Jamabo had another big gain catching a feed from Rosen out of the backfield, storming down the left sideline for what looked like a 30-yard gain that completely flipped field position. On an earlier drive, he wiggled through a lane off left tackle Conor McDermott before changing gears to his right against the grain. It's been very clear this camp that he's the No. 1 back in this offense, but Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi continue to have good moments as well, particularly on that opening drive against the first-team defense Saturday.
Tight end Austin Roberts was targeted several times during 11-on-11 as he found open space underneath on crossing routes before turning up field. He added some weight this offseason but maintained his flexibility and could very well be a key component of the passing game given his tendency to get open against linebackers.
While the offense was able to move the ball and execute plays, it came to a halt inside the red zone and near the goal line. Randall Goforth intercepted a pass intended for Kenny Walker that Fabian Moreau deflected deep in their own territory. Goforth said afterward his work at cornerback this past spring has helped him grow more comfortable defending the pass from his safety spot and as the unit's leading candidate at nickelback.
Johnny Johnson, working with the second-team defense, made a big play in the end zone to knock away a pass. He had been beaten to a ball by Jordan Lasley earlier, with Lasley then standing over him and earning a 15-yard taunting penalty from Mora himself. Offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu also gave him an earful for the mental lapse.
Johnson battled back on that same drive to then pick off Mike Fafaul in the end zone.
Nate Meadors and Jayon Brown teamed up to stay with Nate Iese in the back of the end zone on a fourth-down stop inside the five.
Deon Hollins again worked with the first-unit defense and had a phantom sack on Rosen at around the 10 in place of Takkarist McKinley, who participated in some walk-through situations and shadowed position coach Angus McClure as he took mental reps throughout the session. Keisean Lucier-South also got a look with the ones and it's no secret at this point that the redshirt freshman will have a pass-rushing role this season.
There were no one-on-one battles as there had been the first five days of camp, but Mossi Johnson was impressive in drills. He's been able to gain good depth on his routes, deciphering his next move and has proven to be perhaps the most athletic pass-catcher on the team. Johnson has a wide catching radius and adjusts probably better than anyone on throws that aren't necessarily on target.
Andrew Strauch and Austin Kent alternated kickoff duties, and it was interesting that Kent's were remarkably difficult to return given the ball's sideways spin.
Ishmael Adams, who was stellar once again in receiver drills, Octavius Spencer, Stephen Johnson III and Lasley returned kicks, in that order.
In the absence of Juarez, true freshman Breland Brandt again played with the second unit and was able to put some good pressure on Fafaul off the edge.
Theo Howard (hamstring) and Paco Perez (knee) again did conditioning work off to the side, while true freshman Audie Omotosho seemed to be favoring his right leg as he went through drills.