Craig Sheppard, the walk-on running back, has left the team.
Wide receiver Brandon Breazell missed practice today due to the death of a grandparent. He's expected to return to the team tomorrow.
Marcus Everett, the wide receiver who's missed the last few days because of a grandparent's death, is expected to return to practice Saturday afternoon.
The first two-a-day practice started Saturday, with an early morning practice.
The team went through a common number of drills, but then did a O v. D run drill, without receivers and cornerbacks; an 11-on-11 short-yardage drill; a 7-on-7, and then a goal-line 11-on-11.
Generally the defense fared quite a bit better Saturday and you could make the case that it definitely held the day against the offense. It very well could have been that projected starters, DTs Kevin Brown and Brigham Harwell, began running with the 1s for the first time. Nikola Dragovic injured a hamstring, which isn't considered serious, but Bruce Davis replaced him with the 1s, to go along with Justin Hickman at the other DE spot.
In the run drill, the offense started out strong, with Chris Markey and Derrick Williams both finding some daylight in the first two reps. Harwell and Brown then stepped up on consecutive plays to make tackles for loss. Harwell then penetrated again and stopped a run for no gain. After Williams had a nice gain on a cutback against the #2 defense, the #1 d got back in and Brown strung out freshman running back Christian Ramirez for no gain.
In the 7-on-7s, the offense struggled. The quarterbacks went 8 for 25 on the drill, and three of those completions were to running backs before the line of scrimmage. Without Everett, Breazell and Joe Cowan able to line up, the offense is without some serious play-making ability and it showed, with receivers consistently covered well by the defensive secondary. Probably the best offensive play was a nicely-thrown fade by Ben Olson to tight end Ryan Moya for a touchdown. On defense, Rodney Van should have had an easy pick on an out thrown by Patrick Cowan. John Hale got an easy interception against a terribly-late thrown ball by Osaar Rasshan.
In the 11-on-11s, the offense had a little more success, mostly running the ball, but still didn't do very well. It seemed to be pretty correlational – whenever the O went up against the first-string D, with Brown and Harwell, it struggled. But the second-team defense was allowing fairly sizeable holes on the ground.
The goal-line 11-on-11 got interesting. The offense had reps at the 20-yard line, the 10-yard line and the five. Cowan hit Moya in the endzone off a play-action roll-out from the five. Ramirez went around end and pushed the pile over the goal line for a TD. Chane Moline, who looks to be in very good shape and lining up as a tailback, gained four yards to the one. On the next play he plunged into the line, but the referees said he came up short, which drew protests from the offense.
A few observations overall after the different sessions:
-- Aaron Whittington is still with the 1s at weakside linebacker. -- Olson and Cowan continue to alternate working with the #1 offense. -- Junior Taylor doesn't seem to have the explosion he did before the knee injury, but it could still be a matter of shaking off the rust. -- Rasshan had a pretty poor day, between picks, sacks and bad throws, which was regrettable after such a good day on Friday. -- Alterraun Verner got some time as a nickel back with the 1s. With 5 DBs, Verner lined up as a corner and Trey Brown slid over to the inside. Mike Norris is probably the first nickel off the bench, but it was interesting to see Verner with the 1s.
Jeremy McGee will have a good chance of not redshirting as a punt returner. He looks like a natural at it.
Among the freshman running backs – McGee, Ramirez and Moline – you'd have to say that Moline might be faring the best. He's always falling forward and is tough to bring down. Ramirez looks very thin and McGee, while he's shown some shiftiness, looks undersized.
Walk-on freshman running back Ryen Carew has been in the doghouse of running backs coach, Dino Babers.
Christian Yount, the longsnapper who is thought to be coming to UCLA in spring, has been at every practice so far.
Recruits in attendance Saturday were committed running back Raymond Carter and committed DT Brian Price, both from Los Angeles Crenshaw. The junior wide receiver from Crenshaw, Kemonte Bateman, was with them. Tight end Devin Mahina from Upland attended. Two potential stand-out juniors, running back E.J. Woods and lineman Damon Middleton, both from Santa Monica High, also attended practice.
Former UCLA cornerback Matt Clark is in the Philadephia Eagles camp, playing alongside his former teammate and cousin, Matt Ware, who has been moved to safety.
There was a fairly good turnout of fans for the first Saturday session, about 150 people.
Karl Dorrell's Post-Practice Comments -- Watch Video
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