One of the downsides to August is that, sometimes, we are still getting up to speed. Vacations are still going on and we sort of need training camp to get the site running at full speed again when the season starts.
So that means, some days, we get bogged down and don’t get to recap camp as quickly as we might normally do during the season.
The result is that you get a “jumbo edition” of the Spaulding Report and that’s what we have this afternoon — a jumbo edition covering the second half of last week, starting with Wednesday. So, let’s catch up and get back up to speed on the happenings surrounding UCLA Football Fall Camp.
After having last Tuesday off, the team resumed practice on Wednesday.
Defensive back Nate Meadors and running back Bolu Olorunfunmi were the players who met with the media after practice.
Meadors discussed how the “violent mentality” of the defensive linemen and linebackers is translating to the secondary. I feel like we’ve always tried to bring a dominance from the back end to the...to the game so I think we’re bringing that mindset as well,” Meadors said. “We’ve just got to play defense.”
After practice on Wednesday, actor Mark Wahlberg addressed the team after practice. By his own admission, Meadors was “star-struck” by having Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch fame and the star of the Transformers talk to the team. “He was just telling us to stay grounded in what we do, to enjoy the education, enjoy where we’re at...enjoy being in college and being focused,” Meadors said.
Meanwhile, Bolu Olorunfunmi covered a host of different topics ranging from how he is aware of what Chip Kelly’s running backs did at Oregon to the progress the offensive line is making including what Justin Murphy brings to the line. But, what really stood out was how he spoke about Coach Kelly wanting the players to get out of their comfort zone.
“You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone,” running back Bolu Olorunfunmi said Wednesday while explaining the attributes of a jungle tiger, “do things you never do.”
Here’s the full video of Bolu’s post-practice interview.
Before Thursday’s practice Chip Kelly met with the media for the second time since camp started. He was asked what he thinks the identity of the team is right now and he answered very simply: “Chaos.”
He proceeded to make it sound like it’s chaos by design.
For instance, he was asked about the picture Chris Murray tweeted of him snapping the football. Kelly said that they are working seven or eight guys at center right now because they don’t ever want to be without someone who can snap the ball. “If you’re an inside player for us, you’ve got to snap the football because you never know if we’re going to need them at some point,” Kelly explained.
He explained his “chaos” description further by saying: “If it was smooth on day one, maybe we’re not putting enough in and challenging them enough. So, they’re still trying to figure out....It’s an entirely different deal because we have 38 of 42 faces that weren’t here for Spring Ball.”
Here’s Chip Kelly’s complete interview.
Meanwhile, Darney Holmes and Theo Howard spoke after practice on Thursday.
If you listen to Darnay Holmes’ interview, you get a definite sense of how Chip Kelly has taken command of the team. “Once the coaches got fired, I was just looking at myself like, ‘Why am I here?’ because coming out of high school I committed here and then once coaches get fired, that’s definitely the worst nightmare you’re going to have. But, once [the new staff] came in, I’m definitely of a better mindset then I had last year and I’m definitely playing way better than I played the year before.”
“The main thing he’s kind of bring to this team is chemistry,” Holmes added. Not bad for a team whose identity is chaos.
Here’s Darnay Holmes’ full interview from Bruin Report Online.
There haven’t been much information regarding the quarterback battle, but Theo Howard did speak about several of the quarterbacks during his interview.
Ben Bolch of the LA Times took a look at freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and he quotes Howard talking about the freshman:
I definitely think he looks mature beyond his years...He’s out there making great decisions.
The game looks like it’s not too fast for him. He’s really settled down and he’s making good decisions.
Here’s the complete interview with Theo Howard from Bruin Report Online.
Moving on to Friday’s practice, Josh Woods spoke about a lot about how the defense is improving. “I think we’re getting better every day...just getting better communication...better understanding...not only plays with situations. I think now we’re getting a lot more situational work.” Woods said.
“We can disguise a lot of looks. Coach Azz is very smart...very strategic with that,” he added.
Thanks to Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online for the video of Josh Woods.
While the bulk of Dymond Lee’s interview discussed his progress as a receiver, the most interesting thing he had to say was how playing for Chip Kelly is different from what he might have expected. Lee said:
Growing up, I never really anticipated how much work you would have to put in at this level in training. We only get to see what they’re doing on Saturdays when they are winning by 40 or 50 every week, but I mean it’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. That’s what we’re looking for. Every day, we’re out here and it’s a lot of blood sweat and tears. We’re looking to be the one of those top teams.
Dymond Lee’s video inteview is courtesy of Bruin Report Online.
Last week, I wrote about how even special teams is practice fast. After practice on Saturday, the Bruin kickers took center stage to discuss that.
First, there’s punter Stefan Flintoft. He spent a good amount of time discussing how his cousin Colin ended up at UCLA instead of UC Berkeley including the fact that Colin’s dad is a UCLA alum.
But, he also spoke about his outlook as to the fact that Chip Kelly tended to punt less than other coaches when he was at Oregon. Flintoft said:
We go out when our name is called and we just do our job. If he wants to go for it on fourth down, then, hell, yeah! I want the first down just as much as anyone else does. In a perfect world, I would never see the field because that means we just outplayed the other team completely. But, if my name gets called, then I’ll be ready to go out and execute.
Last, but definitely not least, we have JJ Molson. Molson, who had a very good year last season spoke about the fact that the field goal drills have been sped up in an effort to get the kickers used to being uncomfortable. Molson said:
One of the Coach Kelly’s biggest core philosophies that he stresses is practicing at a higher pace then you are going to play in a game. So, doing that those drills at such a high pace, where I’m not really taking my full time to take my steps back after I kick one I have to jog, that trains you to kind of get used to that environment where you’re not comfortable and going outside the comfort zone because, in a game, you are going to have 15...17 seconds to go out there. It’s not necessarily like the tempo we’re gonna play at. I think it’s more of a training exercise getting used to being uncomfortable.
That wraps up this jumbo edition of the Spaulding Report covering the second half of last week. Thanks again to the guys over at Bruin Report Online for sharing each of the videos featured in this article!