With the second Fall camp practice under their belts, the UCLA football team is continuing to prepare for the upcoming season (which can’t start soon enough if you ask me!).
In a trend that started in the Spring, there seems to be a few differences from practices in years past. Specifically, coaches were teaching more. I think one of the greatest things about Coach is that, first and foremost, he saw himself as a teacher. You’d never see him lose his temper and, by looking at him, you almost couldn’t tell if his Bruins were winning or losing.
So far in Fall camp, the coaches are continuing to take time teaching players the basics. They seem to be covering more of the basics (also something Coach did), and you can see evidence of this below in practice videos shot by our own Joe Piechowski.
According to Joe, Rosen looked better (yay!) than Wednesday which was a tough day for him personally. Bolu had another good day and was running hard and fast. That’s music to my ears. Those are a couple of practice tidbits we wouldn’t know unless Joe was there. The post-practice interview was with Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley.
I love Coach Bradley. At one point, either from exhaustion because it was so late or just a total lapse in memory, a member of the media totally lost his train of thought and had no idea where he was going with his line of questioning. Bradley bails him out and still gives him a thoughtful answer (which you can see about six minutes or so into the video). Other coaches would have blown the guy off, but Bradley just sympathized with him and said, “I do that sometimes too”. Gotta love him.
In addition to paying closer attention to the smaller details, Bradley said they are also getting better at communicating, which is something that comes with time. This is year three of Bradley’s defense, so they may be able to throw in some wrinkles this year because things like terminology and signals aren’t an issue anymore. He said they can study their opponent better and also refer back to plays they made in previous games.
Jaelan Phillips continues to impress, and was taking reps with the first team last night. While Bradley said we shouldn’t “read too much into that right now”, I think it’s safe to say that this kid is going to pan out. Besides being at practices in the spring, he also had the opportunity to be around the team and start attending classes. While other freshmen’s heads are spinning, Phillips has already become acclimated to campus life. So much so that Bradley said he doesn’t even think of him as a freshman.
Another standout is Darnay Holmes. Bradley described him as coachable, a guy that loves to compete, and said he picked up the scheme quickly. This is another player that Bradley said he doesn’t think of as a freshman. So far, Holmes is getting quite a bit of time working with the 1st team, but it’s too soon to tell if that will continue to be the case.
A practice tradition for the UCLA Bruins is that the line that “wins” gets to run at the end of practice. It is their opportunity to run and continue getting better. Last night the defense ran, but I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if we saw the offense running in the future.
Depth was one of the last things discussed and, right now, the deepest units are the defensive line and defensive backs. According to Bradley, they have the ability to maneuver people and defend better against a hurry-up offense. Players can be dropped into two or three positions and, in some cases, without practice. He gave the example of Randall Goforth covering a position in a game last year that he had never played due to an injury on the team.
Here is a collection of videos shot by Joe Piechowski last night. The first is a wide receiver juke drill:
Next, we have two videos highlighting offensive line footwork drills:
Next (and my personal favorite), we have quarterback drills. First, it’s just the QBs. In the second, it’s quarterbacks and wide receivers. In the third, the quarterbacks are joined by the running backs.
Finally, here is the full video of Coach Tom Bradley’s interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics:
Later today, we will have another Fall camp photo gallery from last night’s practice!