After two and a half days of performing well, Cory Paus generally had a poor showing in Monday's afternoon practice.
He looked tired, making poor decisions, throwing into coverage and not having much zip on the ball. With only one practice today, a day before the team's first day in pads, perhaps Paus will right the ship.
Drew Olson and Matt Moore, for true freshmen, continue to impress. "I feel like we have three guys that are young guys that don't have a lot of experience but they're catching on fast," Head Coach Bob Toledo said about Olson, and redshirt freshman John Sciarra. Olson and Moore, in particular, have been very impressive, mainly from a pure skills standpoint. Olson had two good practices Monday throwing the ball. He is very good at short timing routes and with accuracy within 20 yards.
Moore, while more raw, is starting to get more comfortable and perform more consistenly. He, perhaps, has the best touch among any of the quarterbacks and has great accuracy, not only on short passing routes but in the 20-30 yard range also. Both have shown good arm strength on deep balls. Both are still not very sophisticated, though, in their approach, such as locking on to a receiver too much, etc. Sciarra had an okay day. He's accurate on short passes, but struggles with a pass over 20 yards, for accuracy and power.
Perhaps the most impressive offensive player on the day was Manuel White. In the morning practice, White had a few runs where he showed a newfound quickness and speed. And with his size – at 240 – that's frightening. He is hitting holes very quickly and making some nimble moves in the defensive backfield.
There was a prolonged mini-scrimmage in the afternoon practice Monday and it gave you a chance to watch the running backs a bit more. Akil Harris had a few good moments. He looks to be running the ball with better confidence and power. Jason Harrison looks very quick and elusive. Wendell Mathis had a nice run where he got around end with some good quickness, squeezed through a hole and exploded for 20 yards before he would have been tackled. The offense went out of a single back formation quite a bit Monday, with three wideouts.
In the prolonged scrimmage, it was good to see that the OL provided some good holes for the running backs, even though it's difficult to keep track what defense they're doing that against since they shuffle them in so quickly and mix and match defensive units. Steve Vieira looks to have a solid hold on the starting right guard position and, in the absence of Mike McCloskey, Paul Mociler is getting all the reps at center with the starters.
Mike Seidman had a bit of the dropsies on Monday, but also had a few nice catches that made up for it. Marcedes Lewis had a few nice receptions. He catches the ball and turns to run well out in the flat, right where you want him – up against a linebacker. Keith Carter had a couple of good catches, and one rep where he completely mauled freshman linebacker Kirby Joseph.
Tab Perry looked good once again, catching the ball well and showing that new explosion. He's also catching kickoffs and looks quicker and more explosive through the wedge. Ryan Smith continues to be very consistent, being the almost go-to guy within 15 yards. Josh Roenicke is looking like he might earn himself a scholarship down the line at wide receiver. It's curious, though; he has the dropsies in the drills but is clutch in the scrimmages and 7-on7s.
The defense, generally, has been impressive. It's a very good thing when it's believed the team needed some younger defensive backs to step up, and in the first few days of practice that's the case. Ben Emanuel had a good day at strong safety. He's coming out of his break very quickly and disrupting routes very well. Matt Clark had a strong day on Monday, showing very good coverage skills with some good aggressiveness. Marcus Cassel has really continued to look good so far. He has made some very good breakups, been quick to the ball and hasn't made many mistakes, while also looking very physical. He rode Ryan Smith out of his post route on one rep, and wrestled with Jon Dubravac over a catch very aggressively. Glenn Ohaeri, too, the freshman corner, has been very solid and could very well not redshirt. Joe Hunter, the senior cornerback, had his best day on Monday, so it has to give the UCLA coaches confidence with so many DBs stepping up. It looks like, right now, that Hunter could be hanging onto the other starting corner position opposite Ricky Manning, but Clark is in serious contention for it. Cassel looks to be the fourth corner in the two-deep.
The linebackers had some great moments Monday. Perhaps the most eye-opening was by Justin London. On a sweep, with a quick Tyler Ebell carrying the ball, shot out of the pack and nabbed him a few yards behind the line. It almost looked like Ebell was stunned by London's quickness. Marcus Reese had a similar play and a couple other stops for loss, as did Brandon Chillar, who continues to look very quick for a strongside backer. It's really difficult to assess any performances by the DL until they put on pads and are able to hit and tackle. It appears they are putting on a strong pass rush in the scrimmages, but that could be good or bad since, at this point, you'd rather have the OL showing good pass protection.
-- Dan Guerrero, UCLA's new athletic director, attended practice at Cal Lutheran for the first time Monday. He had a big smile for everyone who approached him, and seemed very comfortable with Toledo
-- Wide receiver Garrett Lepisto has been granted a scholarship, which is much deserved.
-- UCLA's sports information department announced that the practices next Thursday and Friday at UCLA, August 29th and 30th, are now closed to the public. The coaches want the option to begin game preparation for Colorado State on those days. So, the last day the public can watch practice will be the morning practice on Wednesday, August 28