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Spaulding Report: UCLA Football To Play an Actual Spring Game Next Weekend

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Coach Mora told the media on Thursday that the team is healthy enough to play an actual game at the annual Spring Showcase.

Matt Lynch throws the ball in practice on Saturday, April 15, 2017.
Joe Piechowski

As the Bruins prepare to head back out onto the field this morning, welcome to a catch-up edition of the Spaulding Report. Our apologies for not having these reports earlier in the week as they happened. Circumstances beyond our control (read: real life) have kept us from publishing this until now. As a result, we’re combining the news which came out of both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices.

The biggest news this week came when UCLA Coach Jim Mora announced that he is planning to have a real game this Spring due to the overall health of the team. “Our objective is to come out here for the spring game and make it an actual game,” said Mora. “That doesn’t mean all the special teams will be live, but we’d like to think that if we can stay healthy the way we have, that we’re able to put together two squads and have a blue vs. white actual game on Drake, which I think a lot of people want to see, and I’d like to see us be able to accomplish.”

This won’t be the first time in the Mora era that the team has played an actual Spring Game. In 2014, when the Spring Showcase was held at the StubHub Center, the team was divided into two and Noel Mazzone’s Blue team defeated Jeff Ulbrich’s White team 28-0.

Mora was undecided as to how he plans to divide the team up. Mora said:

You know, we’ve talked about having a draft. What we’ll probably do is sit down as a staff Monday or Tuesday, see where we are in terms of guys being nicked, who’s unavailable, and try to split it up so it’s even. I don’t want it to be a bloodbath, I want it to be competitive. We can have a draft, but I don’t know that that’s the most productive thing to do. So I think what we’ll probably do – and once again, this is open to change – is split the teams as evenly as we can so that it can be competitive.

In 2014, the team was split up by pairing the 1st team offense with the 2nd team defense and the 1st team defense with the 2nd team offense. We should know soon how he plans to proceed.

Matt Lynch met with the media for the first time this Spring on Thursday. He described the new offense as a “more pro-style offense” compared to last season’s offense.

Apparently, Lynch hasn’t gotten the “avoid labeling the offense” memo from Coach Mora. But he further described it as being similar to what the Patriots and Falcons both run.

“We watch a lot of film of Tom Brady and Matt Ryan on how it’s supposed to be run,” Lynch said. “So, that’s a good thing to look at to base off where we want to be.”

New Receivers Coach Jimmie Daugherty finally met with the media as well Thursday. Daugherty was asked about how he is going about fixing the drop issue the receivers had last year. “Just going back to focusing on technique...technique and working ball drills every day and making sure their eyes are right,” he replied. “I have a bunch of talented guys in my group. Now, it’s just a matter of ironing out the wrinkles and learning the plays and techniques just a little bit better.”

Daugherty mentioned that Spring is the time to develop guys and narrowing the rotation down when they get into Fall.

Overall, he seems very focused on understanding the issues in the past so that he can correct them moving forward.

Eldridge Massington loves the new system and the attention to detail that Coaches Fisch and Daugherty are stressing. He echoed what we’ve heard about how much detail the new coaches are focusing on. “They are so into the details and the small things,” Massington said. “If the route is at 18 and you’re at 18-1/2, then they’re on you in film about everything. They don’t let anything slide.”

Meanwhile, after practice on Wednesday, Coach Bradley spoke. He discussed how Coach Meat crosstrains and teaches his guys mentally about how to play multiple positions. Specifically, he spoke about how Mossi Johnson has moved back and forth between the offense and the defense as well as between different positions on defense. “He’s playing whole different positions,” he said. “Coach Martin has got him moving all over the place...Right now, he’s not playing as fast as he will when it all comes together for him.”

Overall, Coach Meat spoke about how he teaches his defensive backs to play multiple positions. He had a lot of praise for Mossi Johnson’s progress as well as Darnay Holmes.

Finally, from Wednesday, we have Nate Meadors. Meadors spoke about how the DBs take mental reps as well as how the young guys like Holmes, Denzel Fisher and Colin Samuel. “I think we can be really good,” he said. “We’re all just playing as a unit.”

When it comes to Mossi Johnson, Meadows called him a “goofball”, but said he’s learning stuff fast. “Once he gets it down, he’s going to be a great player for us,” he added.

Thanks to Ed Lewis of the Bruin Sports Report for the videos of Jim Mora, Jimmie Daugherty and Matt Lynch and thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSocal.com for the rest of the videos.

The team takes the field again this morning at 9 am for Spring Practice #11. If you’re heading out to campus to catch practice today, we are having another Saturday morning breakfast meet-up at Headlines Diner in Westwood at 7:30 am. Feel free to join us!

Go Bruins!