UCLA again practiced in spider pads Friday morning in anticipation of the full-pads workout later in the afternoon.
It had the feeling of a walk-through session more than anything, as Conor McDermott and Scott Quessenberry suited up but were held out. With Kenny Lacy (knee) sidelined, the first-unit offensive line featured Kolton Miller at left tackle, Najee Toran at left guard, walk-on Gyo Shojima at center, Poasi Moala at right guard and Andre James at right tackle.
The different look didn't appear to affect Josh Rosen one bit, as the star sophomore was very sharp in 11-on-11 and other team periods. He repeatedly hit receivers in stride and showed a great touch on the deep ball, particularly on a beautifully thrown ball that Darren Andrews high pointed for a long gain up the seam. Rosen dissected the defense inside the red zone, too, connecting with Kenny Walker and Giovanni Gentosi for touchdowns. He looked poised in the pocket, keeping his feet moving and his eyes down field despite the absence of his starting left tackle, left guard and center.
Mike Fafaul also made a few nice throws, hitting Alex Van Dyke on a post route by fitting the ball in between two defenders, and later hooked up with Jordan Wilson for two touchdowns. Wilson continues to impress in the passing game, improving as a route runner as this camp has gone on, and it's no longer a question whether he will see the field as a true freshman.
The first-unit defensive line also participated minimally, with Eddie Vanderdoes and Takkarist McKinley (groin) not rotating in during team periods. Boss Tagaloa filled in at defensive tackle and Keisean Lucier-South got the nod at defensive end, with each faring fine when they were on the field. In a bit of good news for the group, position coach Angus McClure said the team expects Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (appendicitis) to be back for Friday afternoon's practice after going the antibiotics route in treatment.
Marcus Rios worked in with the first team at left cornerback and it was Isaako Savaiinaea's turn with the ones at middle linebacker. Cameron Judge told reporters afterward he feels very comfortable playing with either Savaiinaea and Kenny Young, mentioning they have similarities and are very interchangeable.
It was a practice loaded with "situational awareness," as Young put it afterward. The offense was tasked with knowing the clock in late-game situations and the defense also had to simulate some scenarios on air. Special teams had some lengthy periods and featured onside kicks, squib kicks and hurry-up field-goal attempts.
Place kicker J.J. Molson handled first-team kickoff duties, while fellow true freshman Lokeni Toailoa was on cover duty in that same group, an indication that the middle linebacker almost certainly will not redshirt this fall. At this point, we could probably put safety Brandon Burton in that category given his involvement on special teams as well.
The Bruins return to the Cal State San Bernardino fields Friday afternoon at 5:45 pm.