On this Monday morning, let’s catch up on UCLA football camp. After having Thursday off, the UCLA Bruins returned to practice on Friday and Otito Ogbonnia and Tyler Manoa met with the media after practice.
Ogbonnia spoke a little about how he enjoyed representing the US at the Pan American U20 Championships this summer where he won gold in the shot put with a throw of 67’, 11.5”. He was also asked about his comfort level with the defense compared to last year. He replied:
I’m much more comfortable playing D-Line. I’m much more comfortable playing all three on the D-Line. We’re job swapping a lot so having me in different areas and having me play as much as possible and learn each position of the defense much better than last year. So, I’m very comfortable.
Tyler Manoa was up next and he spoke about the pass rush. “Coach Vince has been working on that a lot,” Manoa said. “That’s just been a something big with our D-line to work on is our pass rush and getting off the ball. Last year, we didn’t have too much of that as you can see, but this year, for sure, it’s a big emphasis and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Manoa also discussed the team’s new buzzword—mudita—which refers to pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being and which has apparently been adapted from the Alabama softball team.
The quarterbacks were back on Saturday and Austin Burton, Chase Griffin and Dorian Thompson-Robinson all met with the media for the second time this training camp.
Burton also mentioned mudita in his interview.
In response to a question about how helpful it’s been to not have to change offenses again this year, Burton said:
It’s been a huge help. The first couple years had to change but, now that we’ve had a second year under coach Kelly and his offense, it’s been a huge, huge help...just understanding it each and every play and just moving up to that next level where our understanding isn’t just like from the first year to now.
Burton also spoke some on Chip Kelly’s sport science program including the meals that the team gets.
Chase Griffin spoke briefly about the sport science and nutrition program too. He added how he has worked on his under-center game because his high school ran the Air Raid and primarily operated out of the shotgun. Griffin explained:
I already know one thing that I have improved drastically on is my under-center game. In high school, I came out of an Air Raid offense. We’d throw just about every rap concept in the book but we’re we’re in shotgun during every play taking that time to adjust and go the five-step drop under-center, play-action under-center, A gap runs under-center...just getting the quarterback snap exchange from the center. Those are things that I picked up since I’ve been here and it’s made me a much better player and it’s one of the things that I knew I was going to have to adapt to growing once I got here.
Meanwhile, presumed starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson said that he thinks just getting on a routine has been what he thinks has helped him out a lot.
He also addressed what it means to him to have Boss Tagaloa back at center again this season. Thompson-Robinson said:
It’s such a relief when you have a guy that you can trust to be your center and stuff like that. That way I don’t have to be focusing on just snap or whatever. I know he’s gonna do his job through each time. And, plus, we’re really good friends off the field, but one of my closest friends on this team, too. So, yeah, it’s really good to have him in my corner,
That brings us to yesterday morning before practice when head coach Chip Kelly spoke with the media for the first time since Wednesday.
Chip started the session by letting Ben Bolch of the LA Times know that the team has had a 92 to 96 participation rate since camp opened. He attributed that to the strength and conditioning program which Frank Wintrich has put into place. Kelly said this about Wintrich and the strength and conditioning staff:
Frank and his group just do an unbelievable job. I think the things that nag you in camp for most people are the soft tissue injuries. Now, if you get a concussion or a broken arm, there’s nothing that strength and conditioning can do about it, but the amount of soft tissue injuries are really down and Frank’s had a year to implement a system in terms of how he’s done that. It’s one of the things that was really attractive about him when I hired him is that they do a great job of preparing guys to play football and that’s what they do. So I think a lot of [the credit] goes to Frank in his staff and the players for being prepared and ready when camp started that we’re gonna go. We train at a really high level, but our guys were prepared to train at a high level.
Videos from Sunday are courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
After practice yesterday, Jay Shaw and Elisha Guidry met with the media.
Shaw was asked about the difference in special teams compared to last season. He said it was simpler than last year. “If you can count one, two, three, A, B, C, you already know what you’re doing,” Shaw said.
Shaw also mentioned that the team will now honor the memory of Nick Pasquale by selecting a player whose spirit most emulates Pasquale’s to wear number 36. Until now, no one has worn number 36 since Pasquale died after being hit by a car back in 2013.
Elisha Guidry also spoke about how Coach Sage has simplified things on special teams. He also addressed the off-season strength and conditioning program.
I just feel like, as a DB, I got bigger. So, I’ll be able to tackle running backs. I’ll be able to get off blocks. I’ll be able to be faster to the ball and be faster covering routes. So, I feel like the strength and speed program definitely helped us out over the off-season.
That wraps up this Jumbo Edition of the Spaulding Report for your Monday morning.