It was a mild day in San Bernardino, probably to the disliking of Coach Mora who wants to get the players used to being uncomfortable. But for spectators there, this was a nice surprise. Before we get to the news, I want to update people on the new arrangement at practice. Last year, the public was able to sit at the end of the main practice field. That area is now blocked off because they have added the field behind where people used to sit for practice. I bring this up because it is difficult to get a good view now. So if you are heading out there I suggest getting there early.
Now, to news and observations.
The most interesting thing that really showed itself was the strong leadership by both Brett Hundley and Myles Jack.
-- Chris Foster discusses the change in Brett Hundley from two years ago and the strong leader he has become. He is now in command and has confidence to lead the team. Hundley makes decisions rather than waiting to be told what to do:
Hundley was not happy with how everyone . . . and that meant everyone . . . performed. He barked at the next group to "get off the field" and commanded that the first group go again.
Mora has great confidence in Brett as evidenced by what he worries about:
"Are you kidding?" Mora said. "I only worry about keeping him healthy and about how I'm doing my job so he feels freed up to go play. Anytime the guy touching the ball on every play has such command of what you want out of your offense, you can worry about other things."
The Times also has a nice photo gallery of yesterday's practice.
-- Jack Wang has put up a great photo gallery of the first day of practice and also made Coach Mora's press conference available:
In it, Coach Mora discusses many things, from cell phones to Myles Jack. Regarding Myles, when asked about his being in the backfield more, Mora agreed that he wanted to see Myles breaking though and getting some of the sacks that Barr, Marsh, and Graham used to get. Mora also said that the defense always has an advantage when there are no pads, which you could really see today. Coach Mora is pleased with the progress Priest Willis is making and thinks he is finding his way to becoming a good corner. He has great skills and acknowledges that his development at corner is taking time. Mora is really happy with the way the OLine looks and is bringing Goines back in gradually.
-- Thanks to Edward Lewis of BSR we also have the interviews of Myles Jack and Brett Hundley. Hundley comments about his o-line, they are really big, and talks about Eldridge Massington taking Alex Van Dyke under his wing. Van Dyke did really well yesterday and has amazing length. I can't wait to see him going up against normal sized corners. It should be no contest. Myles discusses his versatility and his new role as a leader of the defense.
Both Myles and Brett put a big emphasis on building team. You can see what a strong value they each place on building camaraderie and they are both putting an emphasis on helping to do just that.
--Speaking of Myles, Ryan Kartje of the OC Register focuses on Jack's new leadership role:
"I had people ask me what to do here, what to do there," Jack said. "That was really a change-up. Now, here I am, giving answers."
One question I wanted to ask was if Jack had been told to taunt the offense! The defense was not only playing as a team on the field, but seemed quite organized in their vocal jousting with the offense and the leader: Myles Jack. It started when Jack picked off a ball, actually ringing it from someone's hands and was quite expressive of his excitement. From then on, the defense became a mighty chorus, chanting "take down" or "dropped it" or whatever words met the situation. Jack was not only a leader on the field with his play, but was a vocal leader, rallying the defense to a new level of unity and fun! At one point we could hear him say: "you look real scared, Brett". The two of them, Brett and Myles, seem to have created a wonderful, powerful chemistry between them. They challenge each other and play off each other. I only wonder however, if one of the coaches didn't put it in Jack's ear to give Brett and the offense a hard time to better prepare them for the season to come.
Other news: As most of you know by now, Kylie Fitts has decided to transfer. We don't know the reasons so we'll let him speak for himself:
I wanna thank the coaching staff for all they have done for me and especially Bruin Nation for all your support! Love you guys! God bless!!— Kylie Fitts (@K_Fitts93) August 5, 2014
In response of me leaving UCLA, I wanna let everyone know it's for personal reasons and nothing to do with depth or playing time issues...— Kylie Fitts (@K_Fitts93) August 5, 2014
We wish Kylie all the best in whatever he ends up doing.
Receiver Mossi Johnson and LB Cameron Judge both left the field with injuries. Mossi hurt his shoulder when he landed hard on it. Judge was carried off with what appeared to be a leg injury. There has been no further word at this time about the injuries.
Three players were not allowed to go to camp. Freshmen Dwight Williams, Aaron Sharp, and Jordan Lasley will rejoin the team when practice continues at UCLA. "Those three guys did not live up to the standards that we're looking for through the summer months." They are in a great place with a Coach that wants the best for his players. I hope they take advantage of this opportunity and rejoin the team ready to go.
These are you football notes for this morning. If you make it out to practice today or were there yesterday, we encourage you to fanpost your observations.