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UCLA Football: San Bernardino Fall Camp - Day 6 Roundup & First Week Storylines

Thigpen reportedly had a good practice on Thursday.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Thigpen reportedly had a good practice on Thursday. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Bruins held their first two-a-day of 2012 pre-fall camp and it wasn't really all that eventful (which IMHO is kind of good news). Coach Jim L. Mora met the reporters after the first session and didn't have anything major to report except to say how the team is "grinding" it out. The second session was reportedly "uneventful".

Per Miguel Melendez (who IMO is off to a great start subbing for Jon Gold at "Inside UCLA") Bruins will not have any more live scrimmages at point during rest of fall camp (which is interesting). We are going to have two more two-a-days back in Westwood where the team will start the second session around 7:45 p.m.

Some of the micro-highlights from yesterday as narrated by Melendez:

Kevin Prince had one of his best days today accentuated by a 77-yard touchdown pass to WR Shaq Evans, a zip over the shoulder and away from CB Aaron Hester.

Richard Brehaut also connected on touchdown pass to Jerry Rice Jr., whose burst on catch is really impressive. Brehaut also connected with a little help from WR Jerry Johnson who made a fantastic diving catch.

Devin Lucien made turned heads when he went upstairs for a completion on a Brett Hundley pass.

RB Damien Thigpen impressed, too. He had a couple of nice big runs.

WR Jordon James made some nice cutbacks and found the seams. James looks like he's ready to contribute and won't shy from contact. [He had a fumble though. -Ed Note]

CB Marcus Rios recorded an interception as did S Tevin McDonald off Hundley, who was looking for WR Sam Handler in the red zone.

The kickers got a chance to strut their stuff. Ka'imi Fairbairn and Justin Moreno showed consistency from shorter range but struggled as both missed from the 51-yard line. Fairbairn went wide right and Moreno went wide left. Fairbairn also converted from the 43-yard line.

Well, I guess he at least converted from the 40. Plus, honestly after years of watching UCLA coaches going into a conservative shell knowing Kai would get them 3 points as soon as they got to 23-25 yard line, part of me doesn't mind UCLA coaches not having the total comfort zone depending on the kickers. Anyway, I think Fairbairn will be all right. The kid is a just freshman.

Beyond focusing on the micro-details of what took place yesterday, I also want to share with my impressions on the major storyline after first week of practice (including notes from yesterday). Let's get to them after the jump.

Quarterback competition: Not sure if there is one any more - at least not for the starting spot. From all the reports we have read so far in last few days it seems to be that Brett Hundley has all but emerged as sure fire no. 1 starter for this team. Here is a video of him talking to media (answering stupid questions about phones) after yesterday's practice.

Hundley as the start is going to excite a lot of folks, including yours truly. Yes, personally I thought it'd be Richard Brehaut who would emerge in his senior year, but right now it appears from all the reports we have read to date that it's Hundley who is way ahead. The mystery at this point is who will emerge as the main backup. It will probably end up being a race in between Kevin Prince and Brehaut, but Jerry "the Video Bomber" Neuheisel may have a chance to break in.

State of the offensive line: In some corners there is concern. There is also LOL example of comedic panic. But if you look through the depth chart the situation, not exactly sure why we should be thinking about conceding the season. To reset here was the post-spring depth chart shared in gbruin's pre-camp analysis:

The Post-Spring Offensive Line Depth Chart

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle

Xavier Su'a Filo

SO 6-4 310

Wade Yandall ^^

R SO 6-4 315

Greg Capella

R JR 6-4 310

Jeff Baca

R SR 6-4 304

Torian White

R FR 6-6 295

Michael Padovese

R FR 6-5 322

Alex Ceachir **

SO 6-5, 305

Jake Brendel

R FR 6-5 295

Alberto Cid

R JR 6-4 305

Will Oliver

R FR 6-7 305

Ben Wysocki

R FR 6-4 300

Tre' Hale **

R SO 6-2, 308

Chris Ward

JR 6-4 318

Brett Downey

R SR 6-7 305

Kody Innes

R SO 6-4 285

** moved position since spring; ^^ medical retirement

So from that list so far we have lost Chris Ward to a medical redshirt. While we wish Ward best of luck if you watch Mora's body language and comments, he doesn't seem exactly heart-broken over losing someone who was struggling towards the bottom of the depth chart.

Baca and Cid are being held out because Coach Mora is going out of his way to be extra cautious making sure the team is "not taking any unnecessary risks with concussions or heat-related illness":

"The things that I don't think you should ever mess with at any level of football is head injuries and heat illness," Mora said. "Those things can be deadly and you just have to be really, really careful. If it's close, we're going to hold them out and get somebody else the work."

Torian White had a very good spring. He left practice with chest pains couple of days ago and is also undergoing pre-cautionary tests. Certainly no one is counting him out. Meanwhile, both Brendel and Wysocki have been doing a pretty good job of stepping up. That's not surprising news b/c they were both pretty well recruited guys out of high school.

Among the freshman Carl Hulick has been getting some reps. Colby Cyburt and Simon Goines have had their share of bumps and bruises, but not surprising for true froshmen. Few other guys have had to sit out this week due to heat related issues. But they will be back sometime once they get rested up.

Folks tend to forget that during Cade McNown era Bruins essentially built a decent OL with a core group of 7-8 players, who were not exactly highly recruited guys out of high school. So people need to chill with the panicking and let the camp play out. Folks need to stop doing the "OMGz" routine every time someone sits down from bumps and bruises or heat related issues. It happens all over the country.

Camping in San Bernardino is not about getting used to heat: So there has been a lot of whining and belly aching among some UCLA fans about camping in the heat. I don't really get the complaining. I think there has been a lot of misconception about why Mora took our guys out to San Berdoo. I don't believe it had anything to do with getting used to heat or get the guys ready for a game in Texas. I don't think Bruins needed to practice in San Berdoo to beat a school like Rice in Texas. If that was the case than this program's problem is even more serious than we imagined.

What this camp does though is to give the Bruins a good opportunity to build a foundation as a "team." From Peter Yoon at ESPNLA:

Bonding with teammates was a major reason coach Jim Mora wanted to take his team to San Bernardino for camp. He said before camp started that he wanted an environment with "no girlfriends, no friends and no family." Mora said he did not impose a cell phone ban, but you can bet he's not all that upset with it as it's helped shift the focus to football.

Kendricks said that during down time, the players are studying the playbook and discussing strategy instead of catching up on Facebook and taking turn in Words With Friends.

"I'm not worried about it at all," Kendricks said. "It's part of getting away from L.A. and the distractions and focusing on football."

That is the primary goal for this camp - eliminate distractions, build camaraderie and get them to focus.

Mora's no-non sense approach: We read earlier in the week about Mora chewing out Adrian Klemm because he didn't appreciate the staff coddling the players. Yesterday, he sent Dantone Jones to locker room early:

There was a skirmish in the middle of team drills and the end result was DE Datone Jones hitting the showers early. UCLA coach Jim Mora would not address the issue after practice. Here's what we know: Jones got into a tussle with a fellow member on defense. We are not exactly sure that teammate was from our limited vantage point.

Whatever Datone was doing, we hope he get his act together. This is his last shot. He was a huge disappointment last season after reportedly having "beast" practices leading up to the season. UCLA is not going to be a big senior season for him and now is the time for him to focus.

Will Mora's approach be successful? Well, we are not going to know until we see the game day results.

More videos: Miguel Melendez has lots of them over at Inside UCLA. Check out his interviews of Eric Kendricks and Jerry Johnson. I will end with the following chat with XSF:

As XSF said the Bruins need to keep "pushing" and "grinding through" the camp. Bruins get much needed rest today and will go through team building activities. Overall, after the first week, we should feel good about where we are - and look forward to second week.