It was a team-period dominated practice, with little or no one-on-ones or technique drills. By the end of the two-hour sessions, they must have registered 200+ plays in 11-on-11 (and no 7-on-7 or 9-on-7), from just about every situation possible – redzone, backed-up, second-down, quick change, etc. And the periods were probably 60% full tackle, with the defense able to bring ball carriers to the ground.
Regrettably, with Josh Rosen given many chances and many series, he didn’t have a great day, and he was well aware of it. Even though offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, in his post-practice comments, said Rosen didn’t seem to hit any throws in the first half of practice and every throw in the second half, we didn’t think he even hit that many in the second half. His accuracy was just off. There were times when favorite target, tight end Caleb Wilson, was wide open, and Rosen just missed him, pretty significantly – and if you can’t complete a pass to a wide-open Wilson, who catches everything close to him, you know the day isn’t going well. Rosen recognized it, too; when he missed on an easy, wide-open receiver he dropped the f-bomb on himself. He went probably five series without getting a first down. He did improve a bit in the second half of practice, but it was on some pretty easy throws – just dump-offs, curls and slip routes, that he was actually missing for the first hour.
Devon Modster had a bit of a better day running with the second team, but not significantly better. Both Modster and Rosen started off the practice missing on just about every deep throw in pat-and-gos. In team, Modster was a bit better throughout practice, but that was just because he completed the easy throw more consistently than Rosen did on the day.
Third-string quarterback Matt Lynch got a bit of a rest Saturday, getting just one series, and true freshman Austin Burton stepped in, and actually put together some decent drives. He used his legs to keep drives going, getting a first down on a scramble, and a touchdown on a read option (that was called back). He didn't really throw the ball down the field, and missed some short throws, but he did enough to move the changes -- of course, against the third- and fourth-string.
Combining with a mediocre day for the quarterbacks, there were probably the most penalties committed by the team as a whole in any practice yet this spring, and the most muffed exchanges on the snap. The offense was primarily the culprit on penalties, but the defense got in on it in the last third or so of practice.
Any good offensive plays Saturday were mostly due to a receiver or running back making a play with the ball, and a result of some good run blocking.
The tight ends generally had a good day. Wilson, even though he didn’t catch some of Rosen’s errant throws, still made some plays, finding a seam on some short curls. Freshman tight end Jimmy Jaggers had a few nice catches, on the same type of curls in traffic, and then for a touchdown when he was crossing in the back of the endzone. Redshirt freshman Jordan Wilson had a couple of +15-yard plays, taking one flat route and turning up field and breaking tackles. Austin Roberts, who mostly sat for the first couple of weeks of practice due to a sprained ankle, also caught a touchdown crossing along the back of the endzone, and had a nice catch dragging his feet in bounds along the sideline.
Among the receivers, senior Eldridge Massington probably had the best day, making a number of catches and putting together successive plays in one series when he caught a short quick out, turned up field and made some yards after the catch.
It seemed like the slip route, or variations of it, was the designated route of the day. The offense used it with just about every receiver or running back throughout the practice.
The running backs generally had a good day, even if you'd say that not one really stepped up and shined more than the others. Sotonye Jamabo earned some tough yards in runs between the tackles, running low and hard. Jalen Starks continued to make tacklers bounce off him running up the middle and had a goal-line touchdown. Bolu Olorunfunmi had a few 5+ gains, Brandon Stephens used a few stretch plays for good yardage, and Nate Starks powered in for a touchdown on short yardage with some tough running.
Fullback/Y Giovanni Gentosi made some plays himself, scoring on a fullback dive and also making some good positive yardage on a slip-type route.
On defense, a the stand-out guy was freshman defensive end Jaelan Phillips. He took a good number of reps with the first-string and produced, getting a couple of tackles for loss. Keisean Lucier-South also made some plays from that razor DE spot, making a nice tackle for loss and recovering a muffed exchange.
Sophomore back-up middle linebacker Lokeni Toailoa made a number of nice plays as a result of some great pursuit in defending the run.
Senior starting middle linebacker Kenny Young also showed good sideline-to-sideline pursuit, and registered a sack when he jetted through on a blitz.
Nathan Meadors and Darnay Holmes were the contenders for the best defensive backs on the day. Meadors broke up a couple of potential touchdowns, and Holmes supplied some blanket coverage on short routes from the nickel spot, especially on slot receiver Darren Andrews. Holmes looks like he’ll be the first option at nickel.
Denzel Fisher, who has seized the open starting cornerback spot, had a few nice break-ups, but then walked off the field at the end of practice with a sling on his arm/shoulder.
The punt and kick-off returners are starting to form a consistent hierarchy. Redshirt freshman Damian Alloway has been getting the first reps as the punt returner, and Jordan Lasley is No. 2. At kick-off return, in order, have been Brandon Stephens, Lasley, Holmes and Alloway.
Junior punter Stefan Flintoft continues to hold on pretty firmly to the starting punter position, booming a few Saturday. Austin Kent had a good day punting too, and seems to be getting more consistent.
Practice was a tidy two hours, which was probably the shortest of spring, since Jim Mora and the staff are hosting some recruits on campus this afternoon.
Former UCLA wide receiver coach and San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher was at practice, talking with his former employee, current UCLA receiver coach Jimmie Dougherty.
Recruits at practice were:
Lamb got quite a bit of attention from the staff, with Mora spending a good amount of time with him.