UCLA wrapped up their next to last day of work (and final two-a-day) at Cal State San Bernardino. UCLA Athletics Youtube Channel posted the 6th installment of "The Desert", which I feel is a little bit of hyperbole from UCLA Athletics. Great stuff here from Devin Lucien (looks and sounds healthy after the scary injury), Devin Fuller and Eldridge Massington.
The morning session saw a lot of special teams work and Coach Jim Mora spoke to the media after practice. Video courtesy of UCLA Athletics:
- The biggest news from this is obviously the almost unanimous good news on the injury front. Mossi Johnson was back at full speed without the red "no-contact" jersey on, very exciting news as he looks to be a player who will earn targets in the passing game. Devin Lucien passed concussion testing and should be back for practice when the Bruins return to Westwood Monday. Jacob Brendel is close to being full speed. Zach Whitley was back out at practice, though not a full speed doing conditioning. Scott Quessenberry will hopefully back at practice on Monday as well after a mild concussion.
- Basically UCLA will be at close to full strength on both sides of the ball going into the season, outside of losing Simon Goines at tackle for a few weeks.
- Mora followed up the general feeling from everyone at BN who has taken in practices at CSUSB that the punting situation without Sean Covington isn't going to be a major issue as both Adam Searl and Matthew Mengel look capable of handling the job.
- In regards to the depth chart, UCLA cautioned against reading too much into the depth chart at defensive back. This comes after Anthony Jefferson shifted out to cornerback (with Goforth out of team work due to injury, Jaleel Wadood and Tahaan Goodman were at safety) in the NIckel package the last two or three practices, replacing Priest Willis as the 1st string outside cornerback opposite Fabian Moreau. The base 3-4 starting group there is clearly going to be Randall Goforth and Jefferson at safety and Moreau and Ishmael Adams at corner. The 5th defensive back spot is the one that is up for grabs at this point, which is essentially a starting spot based on the frequent use of Nickel against the Bruins' opponents in the Pac-12.
- Coach Mora said there are 9 guys he feels comfortable with playing at DB: those 9 are: the obvious four starters (Moreau, Goforth, Jefferson, Adams), Priest Willis, Tahaan Goodman, Marcus Rios, Jaleel Wadood and Jalen Ortiz. Expect to see all of those players feature on the defense at some point this season and a lot on special teams.
- Mora's comments on the backup QB job were interesting as he singled out Asiianti Woulard after mentioning him along with Mike Fafaul and Jerry Neuheisel. To be honest, I haven't noticed any one of the three looking leaps and bounds ahead of the other two (not necessarily a bad thing). I expect Woulard to be the guy by the end of camp, just because his ceiling is much higher and he needs the reps to continue improving like he has in the Fall. In contrast to Jerry Neuheisel, whom seems like he could step in after a few weeks of limited reps/scout team work and not embarrass himself. Mike Fafaul isn't going to go away though. He's clearly the least physically talented QB of the group, but he makes plays out there. Reminds me a little of a slower BJ Denker from Arizona last season.
After the evening session, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich spoke with reporters after the evening practice with video from Jack Wang at Inside UCLA below:
- In the video, Ulbrich basically confirms what's been the 1st group at linebacker in both the base 3-4 alignment and Nickel set. It is still Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack in both group with Kenny Young and Aaron Wallace in the base 3-4 and Deon Hollins taking the edge rush role in Nickel opposite Owamagbe Odighizuwa.
- I agree with both decisions based on what I've observed at practice and heard from various other sources. Aaron Wallace is steady outside as a run defender, much sturdier than either Kenny Orjioke or Deon Hollins. But he has limits on his athleticism as a pass rusher, so Deon Hollins (who played a lot with his hand in the ground in high school and played some as an edge rusher in 2013) makes more sense.
- Kenny Young is still the most likely candidate to start out of the 2014 recruiting class. in the practices I've taken in, he just seems to be on a different level physically than freshmen normally are. I saw Myles Jack in San Bernardino last season and only saw flashes of the talent Jack possesses. WIth Kenny Young, he already seems locked into the defensive scheme mentally where it looked like Jack was relying on his physical talent and instincts as a true freshman (in San Bernardino). I'm excited to see what Young can do against Virginia in a couple weeks and throughout the season.
- Ulbrich also more or less confirmed that Kenny Orjioke will fill more of a dual role as depth for both the edge rushers in the Nickel package and as an outside linebacker in base. Which will disappoint some in the BN community, but Ulbrich also noted that Orjioke will see plenty of time regardless of if he ends up 2nd or 3rd string on the depth chart.
- Kenny Clark was one of the last recipients of praise from Ulbrich, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Clark is probably the
- Personal favorite quotes from a coach that has nearly zero filter in talking to the media, when asked about the difference in toughness in this year's defense:
- About where the toughness starts in the defense: "Kenny Clark is a growwwn man."
- About Ishmael Adams: "(after listing the other 3 starters at DB)...Ish is tougher than shit too."
- About Myles Jack's attitude on the field: "Myles is like the biggest prick on the field, which is awesome."
That is about it other than saying that everyone should try to head out to the last open practice of UCLA's fall camp on Saturday morning.
UCLA practices will be closed to public after the Bruins return to campus. Last chance for fans is Saturday's "mock game" at 10:45 a.m.— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) August 15, 2014
Until next time, Go Bruins!