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Spaulding Report Jumbo Edition #2: UCLA Football Completes the Dog Days of August as Training Camp Concludes

The team returns to closed practices on Tuesday as they begin to prepare for the season opener on September 3rd against Texas A&M.

WR Christian Pabico has been one of the surprises of Fall Camp for UCLA.
Joe Piechowski

Let’s catch up on the final week of UCLA Football Fall Camp with another Jumbo Edition of the Spaulding Report.

Tuesday

Bruin offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke with the media after practice and he again stressed the little details. Fisch said:

Right now, we’re focusing on this week, a week of details. Can we run the same play a little bit better? Can we run the same protection a little bit better? Can we get our pass routes a little bit better? This whole week, we’re not focused on installing any plays. We’re focusing strictly on trying to be really detailed in what we’re doing.

Fisch also spoke about how he evaluates his offensive players. He talked about how he doesn’t think about whether the first team is running against the second team. Instead, he just looks at what the offense is doing.

We could be running our plays on air or you could be running against the starters or you could be running against the two’s. I’m just trying figure out, “Are all of our guys doing the right thing?” And, if they’re all doing the right thing, then that’s where we decide if it was a positive play or positive practice. So, whether we go against the twos in that last period or we go against the ones, we go against a great defense every day. I’m just hoping we figure out a way to do the right thing at the right time.

While we’ve heard that Fisch is a stickler for details before, this sticks out to me because it sounds a lot like Bill Belichick’s “Do Your Job” mantra. It sounds like Fisch isn’t afraid to find someone who will do what he wants done.

And, we may have seen that earlier in camp when Jordan Lasley, one of the team’s better receivers was running with the threes instead of the twos or the ones.

Josh Rosen also met with the media after practice on Tuesday. He spoke about how he started to hit his stride in camp. He also spoke about the different types of film they watch. Rosen said:

We watch a lot of Matt Ryan and Tom Brady....He pulled up film from ten or twenty years ago. We actually saw some Ed McCaffrey slants. He’s pulling from all sorts of places trying to help us.

He also spoke about how working in four offenses in four years has affected him. “You’re not sitting in one offense and just sharpening a sword that’s been sharpened for a long time,” Rosen said. “You get to see and understand the different ways different people try to attack defenses in different ways....My big thing is I like asking why. I like asking why you do this and why certain offenses call these plays against these defenses at these times and on these downs and on these parts of the field.”

That really explains why Jim Mora explained that he thought Josh actually benefitted from working with different offenses during his time at UCLA.

Interestingly, he showed some sense of maturity during the course of the interview by refusing to take the bait from the media when asked about Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s decision to resign from President Trump’s manufacturing council. He also refused to take the bait a few times when asked about his Bleacher Report interview.

Walk-on receiver Christian Pabico, who has really made an impression at camp this Fall, also met with the media. He spoke about what has helped him get ahead of his teammates. “Just by knowing the playbook has helped me a lot and, then, being able to do everything that I need to do at full speed has set me apart from myself in previous years,” Pabico said. “Everyone had a clean slate. Everyone had an equal opportunity to make their presence known. Being able to start fresh was the best thing for everybody.”

Of course, the state of the offensive line is the biggest concern among Bruin fans. Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal reported that Andre James and Michael Alves again worked on the right side at tackle and guard, respectively.

Let’s look at the offensive line and defensive line one-on-one drills, courtesy of Ed Lewis of the Bruin Sports Report.

Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal.com for sharing Tuesday’s post-practice interviews.

Wednesday

Wednesday was the 14th practice of training camp. The big news on Wednesday was that the coaches seemed to be lightening up a little in practice, according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of Inside SoCal. It was certainly one of the shorter practices to that point, clocking in at 2 hours and 35 minutes.

She also reports that the play of the day was Josh Rosen’s “towering 45-yard pass to Theo Howard on the first play of the first team period after individual drills.” She adds, “Howard beat Denzel Fisher on the route and went straight to the end zone to get under Rosen’s long throw.”

She also notes that the defensive line looked good. Specifically, she mentions that Jacob Tuioti-Mariner had a few sacks and that Matt Dickerson sacked Devon Modster and dropped Bolu Olorunfunmi for a loss.

On the injury front, she indicates that Leni Toailoa was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey and Austin Roberts spent time on the exercise bike instead of practicing.

All of Wednesday’s videos are courtesy of Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online. First, we have one-on-one drills. The first two minutes of the video features battles between linebackers and either tight ends or running backs while the remainder is made up of the offensive line versus the defensive line.

After practice, head coach Jim Mora met with the media. Coach Mora spoke about the changes made by the NCAA which eliminated two-a-day practices. “It’s the same amount of practices. They’re just spread out more,” Mora said. “Without any two-a-days, the workload is actually not quite as intense. We’re allowed to have longer practices and we take advantage of that so we can get a lot more plays.”

Devon Modster spoke about some of the challenges he’s faced with the new offense, among other things.

Austin Burton addressed how much enrolling early and going through Spring practice helped him prepare for Fall camp. “I couldn’t imagine coming in right now and having to learn the whole offense,” Burton said.

Thursday

On Thursday, Josh Rosen and the first team offense had another good day, according to Thuc Nhi. But, she adds, that the defense won the competition period and earned the victory run. At the same time, based on her description, it doesn’t exactly sound like it was a fair fight considering that it came down to a field goal attempt and Mora stacked the deck pretty heavily against JJ Molson by having the defense crowded behind Molson to intimidate him.

Now, that said, extreme conditions like this are good because they are intended to simulate the hostile environment the team will face in places like Seattle and Salt Lake City.

It is unfortunate that Molson missed the kick, but he will be better in a high pressure situation next time for it.

Let’s look at the videos from Thursday’s practice. First, we have one-on-ones between the linebackers and the running backs and tight ends. Thanks to Ed Lewis of the Bruin Sports Report for the video of those drills.

The post-practice interviews featured the tight ends. First, there’s tight ends coach Rip Scherer and he’s followed by Jimmy Jaggers, Jordan Wilson and Caleb Wilson. Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal for sharing these videos.


Friday

On Friday, the team was back in full pads. Perhaps as a result of that, the players came out looking to be physical. In fact, Thuc Nhi Nguyen of Inside SoCal wrote, “Physical was the top word that could be used to describe Friday’s practice.”

Or, at least it did for the guys on the defensive side of the ball.

Ben Bolch of the LA Times described two hits that Bolu Olorunfunmi took. He wrote:

[Bolu] had absorbed punishing hits twice on runs in a short span, limping off the field after being waylaid by safety Adarius Pickett. Olorunfunmi returned only to be bowled over again before becoming visibly angry and yelling once he reached the sideline.

Several offensive players tried to calm him down, but weren’t able to and DeShaun Foster kicked Bolu out of practice when he didn’t stop.

Thuc Nhi reports that the number 2 offense struggled through practice and that started with snaps as Devon Modster and Josh Wariboko-Alali had exchange problems for the second straight day.

As was probably expected, the defense won the day again and earned the victory run. This time, it came down to “a fourth-and-goal from the 1 for the No. 2 offense and the defense stuffed Jalen Starks at the goal line,” according to Thuc Nhi.

Let’s look at the videos from Friday’s practice. First, we have the receivers against the defensive backs in one-on-one drills, courtesy of Ed Lewis of the Bruin Sports Report.

Friday’s post-practice videos come courtesy of Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal.com. The post-practice videos were slightly unusual in that there was no coach interviewed after practice. Instead, there were four players — two from the defensive line and two from the offensive line. First up is Osa Odighizuwa who, by all measures, had a very good camp.

Osa spoke about learning both inside and outside on the defensive line as well as his wrestling background, and talking with his older brother Owa.

Matt Dickerson is the other defensive lineman who spoke after Friday’s practice.

Of course, the eyes of Bruins Nation have been on the offensive line. One guy who seems to have stepped up in camp is redshirt freshman Michael Alves. Alves spoke about how he found out that he was going to be working with the first team along with the differences between playing with the first team and the second team.

Najee Toran spoke about the state of the offensive line, the addition of Michael Alves to the first team and the details that the offensive line have been working on.


Saturday

Tensions were running high as camp was coming to an end. First, Bolu got kicked out of practice on Friday. Then, according to Thuc Nhi Nguyen, “Jordan Lasley challenged walk-on Brad Sochowski to a fight....” Even Darren Andrews “struggled to control [his] emotions”, according to Ben Bolch of the LA Times.

After practice, Octavius Spencer talked about the frustration the players have been feeling the past few days. Spencer said:

Really, it’s just us competing hard. That’s what the coaches ask of us, so we just go out there and just compete every day, try to work our tails off and get ready for the first game.

Thanks again to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of InsideSoCal.com

Giovanni Gentosi spoke about what it was like to be told he had earned a scholarship during the Spring Showcase as well as what it’s like to play under Coach Fisch and how the offense has been playing.

The last interview from Saturday is Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. Like Spencer, he also spoke about the grind of camp. He was also grateful to the coaches, especially Coach Angus McClure, for helping him become what he has become.

The final practice of training camp had been scheduled for last night, but the coaching staff decided to cancel the session and give the players two days off before the team begins preparing for Texas A&M starting on Tuesday.


Go Bruins!!!