Fall camp has started, which means football is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but it feels like all is right with the world again (well, mostly...).
Head Coach Jim Mora addressed the media after a rather lengthy practice that ended after 10:00 last night, and he immediately stated his pleasure with the new Wasserman facilities. He discussed how just a few years ago it was a dream, and here they are at their first practice. There was a comment from the media that maybe this is having an affect on recruiting, which has had some great momentum recently, but we all know Mora can’t comment on recruiting at this point. But if I was an 18 year old kid with the option to play for UCLA and use some of the most state of the art facilities in the country, I like to think I’d have a hard time saying no.
On that note, in addition to possibly having an affect on recruiting (my assumption only), the Wasserman Center is also a great place for the team to congregate. There will be no trip to San Bernardino this year, and during this first week of Fall camp, a lot of the players are wrapping up summer school (this is a consequence of the NCAA eliminating two-a-days. Practices are starting a week early, thus overlapping with summer sessions). While many of the players are still in dorms this week, studying, and taking finals and writing papers (don’t miss that at all!), the Wasserman Center gives the team a place to come together while being pulled in so many directions.
The media questioned Mora on a few players, specifically Sunny Odogwu. Mora said he looked great and also commented on the status of Stephan Zabie. While he can tell Stephan was not with the team during the summer and has not had the benefit of UCLA strength and conditioning, his skills and athleticism are right where he wanted him to be. Additionally, Mique Juarez is continuing to make progress (something I’m sure we’re all glad to hear), and according to Mora, he has gone through a lot but is “coming out the other side in a positive way”.
We talked a lot about the offensive line last year, but you have to admit the kicking game needed work. Well, J.J. Molson put in work in the offseason that led to a perfect practice yesterday. According to Mora, as soon as the season ended last year, he created a new structure and routine for himself, and in January, was introduced by Mora to Morton Andersen who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday. Morton gave J.J. tips on the mental aspect, preparation, and routines that will help him have a better year, and Morton will also be present for a couple of days at Fall camp. I’d say that sounds like an amazing idea.
Thanks to Edward Lewis at BruinSportsReport, we have some video video footage from practice. Here are the offensive line-defensive line one-on-ones:
And here is footage from Edward of the freshman at camp:
Finally, here is the full video of the post practice interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:
Look for a photo gallery from the first day of Fall camp later today!