Quarterback Ben Olson left Spaulding Field on a cart. After practice, Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said Olson had felt some pain in the foot he had broken in spring. (Watch Neuheisel's comments on video below).
So, while it was an exciting practice, to watch the team in full pads for the full time, it was also disconcerting.
With Olson out for the second half of practice, in which there were many reps in the 11-on-11 scrimmage, redshirt freshman Chris Forcier stepped up and took a bulk of those reps. As Neuheisel says in his post-practice comments, Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow saw something in Forcier and kept him under center for a prolonged time Saturday.
Forcier looked fairly good, completing some passes, making pretty quick decisions and, of course, looking fleet of foot.
He and Kevin Prince, the true freshman quarterback, had the best day among the quarterbacks. Prince easily threw the best couple of balls – one being a post to Dominique Johnson, who went high over the cornerback to snag it.
JC transfer Kevin Craft again didn't perform well Saturday. He was throwing the ball fairly well in the one-on-ones early, but then his throws got away from him in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
In those one-on-ones, there was some good receiver/cornerback battles. Corner Alterraun Verner looked exceptional in coverage, blanketing his man. Courtney Viney, the redshirt freshman corner, also was very good. Receiver Terrence Austin had a couple of nice routes and catches. Antwon Moutra, the true freshman receiver, again showed some considerable ability, putting a couple of moves on Viney, who stayed with him, and then catching a well-thrown but contest ball with good hands. On another, Moutra made a diving catch across the middle.
Among the corners, the hierarchy, for now, looks like it's Verner, Michael Norris, Viney, freshman Aaron Hester, freshman Anthony Dye and then Chris Meadows, who is still in a red, no-hit jersey.
Generally, the practice had the best energy of the fall so far, with a turnout of probably 500+ fans, and the fact that the team was in pads for the first time. In the first drill of practice, the team went through a one-on-one tackling drill, and the coaching staff allowed the fans to come out and stand next to the drill, which is unprecedented in UCLA football practice. In fact, when practice was mostly taking place on the turf side of the field, there was then an impromptu game played by about a dozen kids on the grass side of Spaulding, which was also a bit surprising.
There were a few players who sat out practice. Brian Price, the sophomore tackle, sat it out, due to general fatigue and de-hydration. Jerzy Siewierski, the projected first DT off the bench, also sat out.
Projected starting offensive guard Scott Glicksberg was in shoulder pads and shorts, and went through some conditioning. He's still recovering from flu-like symptoms. In his place with the starting O-line was again Sonny Tevaga.
It appears that the candidates for kick-off returner are Terrence Austin, Raymond Carter and Michael Norris.
There was quite a bit to watch on the day, with the team going through many scrimmage reps. Running back Chane Moline broke a good run, finding a big hole. Interestingly, freshman running back Aundre Dean didn't seem to get many reps. Kahlil Bell and Carter looked very good, and explosive hitting holes.
Chow's offense makes watching practice interesting. He moves around his personnel, employs misdirection and runs out of throwing formations, which is a departure for UCLA's offense. There are times when the offense looks a bit like a spread, with many four-receiver sets, and the quarterback taking quick, three-step drops, which essentially is a spread without the shotgun. There are also times when the gun is employed.
No matter how successful the offense is this year, having been in the offensive dessert as a UCLA fan for years, it's going to be refreshing to just watch what Chow attempts.
At practice was Verbum Dei defensive tackle prospect Noel Beckles.
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Rick Neuheisel's Post-Practice Comments:
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