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UCLA Football: Chip Kelly Is Even Speeding Up Special Teams

Recapping Sunday’s and Monday’s UCLA practices

JJ Molson attempts a field goal during 2018 Spring Practice.
Joe Piechowski

In years past, one of my favorite things to do was to share video clips of different drills the Bruins were doing to give our readers an inside glimpse at what the team was doing to improve.

With all practices closed this year, it’s a lot harder to provide those clips for you. But, never fear, Bruin fans! There are some short clips of practice that are coming from the 15-20 minutes where the media is allowed inside practice.

So, I want to start off our report on Day Three of Fall Camp with a seven-minute video which was shared by the fine folks over at Bruin Report Online. I want to thank Tracy Pierson and Matt Joye for making this content available to us. If you don’t regularly visit BRO, give them a visit and consider subscribing.

In this video, you can see the speed at which the team is practicing. To me, it looks like they’ve already picked up the pace from where they were at during Spring Practice. (Please note: there is a slight glitch in the video, but be patient. After the glitch, you will get to listen to Chip Kelly coaching special teams on their “angles of pursuit.”)

Speaking of Chip Kelly, Ben Bolch’s three-part series on the new Bruins head coach concluded Sunday and, somehow, I forgot to mention anything about it. In Part Three, Bolch looks at Chip Kelly’s desire to maintain his privacy despite being in such a public role. And, it includes some big news. Apparently, Chip Kelly got married recently.

Congratulations to Chip and Mrs. Kelly!

Bolch also profiled Caleb Wilson, who was interviewed by the media after Sunday’s practice. He mentions that Wilson was rated by Pro Football Focus as both the top rated tight end last season and “the top returning player from any Power Five conference school heading into 2018.”

During his media interview, Wilson talked about the progression of the tight end position at UCLA in a similar way to how I described it in our Tight End Fall Preview. He spoke about how the position group had been tiny, but now they have 8 guys who have specifically been recruited to UCLA to play tight end.

Wilson was asked about adjusting to the pace of Chip Kelly’s practices because he missed Spring Practice. He said:

The first day was difficult but....Yesterday, I was much better. Today, I felt like I was even better than I was yesterday. So, I feel like it’s just something you have to grow to get accustomed to because it’s different, but I’m definitely excited and I feel like we’ll be in really good shape by the season.

Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for the video of Caleb Wilson.

Thuc Nhi also notes that the players were in helmets and shoulder pads for Sunday’s practice, making the session the first one with shoulder pads.

the other post-practice interview on Sunday was with linebacker Krys Barnes. Barnes spoke about what has changed for him as a linebacker as part of the switch to the 3-4 defense from last year’s 4-3.

“Last year, it was kind of more playing side to side,” Barnes said. “This year, it’s more downhill.” That means that the new defense will be getting more aggressive than last year and, hopefully, be rushing the passer more as well.

Thanks to Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online for the video of Krys Barnes’ interview. Matt’s article includes a transcript of what Barnes had to say.

One of the biggest pieces of news from Sunday didn’t come from the beat reporters or in the interviews. It came from the Twitter account of freshman offensive lineman Chris Murray. Murray, who mostly played guard at Mater Dei HS, sent out this tweet on Sunday afternoon.

This is interesting because it was expected that Boss Tagaloa and Zach Sweeney would be the guys battling it out to start at center. Will Murray steal the job from both of them? We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, Monday’s practice continued to see what Ben Bolch called a “zippy tempo” for the special teams while Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Daily News offered some more detail on the kicking game. She writes:

The kicking period included 23 total kicks in the span of five minutes. Four kickers kicked in total. J.J. Molson was 10 of 11 from about 31 yards. On Sunday, he kicked from the further distance and today, it switched. Andrew Strauch was 6 of 8 from about 41 yards. Quentin Wallace, a freshman walk-on, was 2 for 2 from 41 yards and Crawford Pierson was 0 for 2 from 41 yards.

After practice, former walk-on Christian Pabico was interviewed. Pabico was asked about receiving the scholarship. “For me, most importantly is just the recognition,” Pabico said. “I’ve been working my butt off since last year and before that.”

Ben Bolch takes a deeper look at Pabico for the LA Times.

Thanks to Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News for the video of Christian Pabico’s interview.

Rick Wade was also spoke after practice on Monday. Rick talked about how practicing at the same speed as the offense will benefit the defense in the long run as well. Wade said:

The first couple practices we were just completely gassed, but we’re starting to get used to it now and I’m seeing how when it comes to the comes time to the game it’s going to be real slow down it’s going to be like practice or easier than practice.

He also talked about the switch to the 3-4 from the 4-3. “I’m rushing on guards which I feel like that goes with my skill set a little bit better. My skills are good footwork and good hands,” Wade said. “So, going against guards or I can I can stem or use my hands on them as opposed to trying to rush around the edge and be a faster person like Jalen or Keyshawn.”

Here’s Wade’s full interview, courtesy of Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online. Joye’s article on Wade’s interview contains a full transcript and is currently not behind the BRO paywall. So, check it out!

Finally, Thuc Nhi Nguyen has an article on the LA Daily News site that looks at how the Bruins are adapting to Chip Kelly’s pace of practice. She also mentions that the Bruins were off today and will hold practice five on Wednesday.

Go Bruins!!!