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UCLA Football: Bruins Focus on the Short Passing Game

There were lots of short passes in yesterday’s practice, but it also seemed like some old bad habits may have returned.

Devon Modster throws a pass after rolling out while Chip Kelly watches.
Joe Piechowski

Yesterday, UCLA football held its 12th Spring Practice session under new head coach Chip Kelly. My big observation was that there were an awful lot of passes which were landing on the ground. Now, some of those were the fault of the quarterbacks who either overthrew or underthrew their receiver, but the receivers seemed to be dropping their fair share of catchable balls.

While the winds from Thursday’s practice were no longer affecting the passing game, the Bruins still seemed to be relying on a lot of short passes during the 7-on-7 and team periods as well as during the smaller group sessions.

It also looked like some of the undisciplined play from the Jim Mora era was making its way back onto the practice field. There was a flag thrown for defensive encroachment during the 11-on-11 session. There was another play which wasn’t flagged where there was clearly defensive pass interference. I also noticed early that an offensive player moved early on one play. Hopefully, this is not indicative of a trend.

Demetric Felton and JJ Molson were the two players interviewed yesterday after practice. Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for sharing yesterday’s post-practice videos.

So far in Spring Practice, Felton hasn’t been used out of the backfield the way he was last season. He was asked about whether he envisioned being used the same way. “I’m definitely up for it,” Felton replied. “So, if Coach Kelly gives me a chance to go in the backfield and run, I’ll definitely be ready for it.”

He was also asked what he thinks he does well that Coach Kelly can use in the offensive. Felton responded, ”I think I’m a very good at moving the ball in space and so as he pushes me and gives me chances to move the ball in space, I could do that.”

Felton also spoke about how Christian Pabico has stepped up to fill the leadership void among the receivers that was left due to guys who left the program after last season.

Meanwhile, J.J. Molson spoke about the adjustment to having Matt Lynch as his new holder. But, Molson really downplayed the change. “It’s a coaching decision,” Molson said.

Yesterday, the NCAA changed the kickoff rules and will now allow a fair catch for a touchback anywhere inside the 25-yard line. Molson was asked about his opinion on the new rule. “I’ve just got to kick the ball,” he said. “I’m there. I have to kick the ball deep right or deep left, whatever they call and, you know, try and do the best I can when I’m out there. The only thing I can worry about is me and the ball and anything else...if they decide to fair catch, then good for them, but my job is to kick that ball.”

Here’s Molson’s full interview. Thanks again to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for yesterday’s interviews.

An an unrelated note, former UCLA quarterback and former head coach Rick Neuheisel spoke to the team yesterday. It seems that what he had to say was well-received.

Speaking of Coach Neuheisel, it’s worth noting that Ben Bolch of the LA Times has an interesting article about Jerry Neuheisel’s return to UCLA as a graduate assistant coach. In the article, Bolch follows Jerry’s journey from being born at UCLA Medical Center to coming off the bench to win the game at Jerry’s World against Texas to leaving school with a year of eligibility left and, eventually, coaching as a grad assistant for Texas A&M against UCLA last year to his return this year.

It’s definitely worth reading.

Yesterday’s practice was the last open session of Spring Practice ahead of the Spring Game, which is next Saturday, April 21st at Drake Stadium. Next week, the Tuesday and Thursday sessions are closed to the public. If you haven’t gotten your tickets for the Spring Game yet, you better grab them fast as only about 3,000 tickets remain.

Go Bruins!!!