Bruins had their second day of spring practice yesterday. As the case is during spring football camp, UCLA like any other team is going through its of ups and downs, glowing reports and injuries. Let's start with the ups from Jon Gold:
* QB Watch: Richard Brehaut had a really good practice but bore the brunt of several dropped passes. Brehaut delivered a few crisp deep balls, but he hit the check-downs better today, and seemed to feel the pocket pretty well. Brett Hundley was good but not great, though he did have one absolutely sensational deep throw that was ... dropped.
* The guy I hyped up all year last year, Jordon James, opened some eyes today. He has great burst and hits the hole at the right time, showing little hesitation. If you come out to practice, watch out for No. 6 in white.
* Seemed like everyone had the drops today, though there also seems to be some progress in the catch-and-run department. Josh Smith had a great catch, Taylor Embree caught a nice ball in traffic and Cory Harkey had a good grab. Also, John Young, the tight end out of Loyola who missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, had three catches and looked like a real focal point. I had a good interview with him after practice that I'll post tomorrow.
Gold has been pretty good about containing his enthusiasm around these practices. For more than a decade now, Bruin fans have gotten accustomed to getting glowing reports from practices only to be disappointed on Fall Saturdays. The day to day ups and downs are interesting nevertheless.
One note that is certainly encouraging is the story on Stan Hasiak:
"I believe he has grown up," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "So many freshmen are used to being the stars in high school that it is difficult for them to become a backup. He really struggled with that and has now accepted that he is playing football at another level. He's matured and, up to this point, shown improvement both mentally and physically."
Hasiak has also trimmed fat and become stronger. He was academically ineligible last season and worked on the scout team.
"I learned the team is the biggest thing," Hasiak said. "It sounds stupid, but that's been my focus. I came to that realization last season and gave it my all on scout team."
His struggles as a freshman, he said, were because of "the culture and the people around me. The pace was different. What the players were doing to make this program better was new. I have conformed to that."
That's the positive note. Unfortunately the reason why Hasiak got a lot of play during the second day of practice is because Jeff Baca, who had been out all last year due to academic issues was carted off the field with an "ankle injury." He had x-rays but no results are available yet.
I will leave you with this note from the OC Register on the kind of offense Bruins have been running last two days:
UCLA is trying to diversify an offense that was last in the conference last season in total and passing offense by not relying solely on the Pistol scheme, but the quarterbacks have continued to work almost exclusively out of the shotgun in this spring's first two practices.
"Almost exclusively in the gun but in terms of the Pistol meaning that the guy's always behind us that's not the case," Neuheisel said. "If you're talking about shotgun quarterbacks that is the case."
That gives us a chance to dish out some home work assignments for those who are attending these practices. Can you guys keep a close eye on the kind of formations our offense is using this spring and give us your sense on whether the coaches are still using pistol as the base set?
Update (A): The latest news on Baca is not good:
UCLA junior offensive lineman Jeff Baca had surgery on Thursday night to repair a fractured left ankle and is out indefinitely, the school announced on Friday.
Baca was injured during the Bruins' second spring practice during a team drill after a teammate fell on his leg. The school release added that his status for fall camp is in doubt, as well.
That's a tough blow.