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Spaulding Report: UCLA Football Ahead of Schedule

Noel Mazzone says the Bruin offense is further ahead than he anticipated, but that's not because we saw any changes in the quarterback rotation for spring practice.

Jordan Payton has become the leader of the Bruins deep WR crew.
Jordan Payton has become the leader of the Bruins deep WR crew.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The U.C.L.A. Bruins held practice #8 early this morning at Spaulding. It looked like the previous seven.

The big news we were looking for today was if there was any sort of change in the quarterback rotation which might signal that the coaches are slotting guys on the depth chart, but from the interview with Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone, it doesn't sound like that's coming anytime soon. Mazzone was his usual joking self when he suggested they may continue the quarterback rotation through the fall and they'll just rote QB's in the way they rotate receivers. Some notes from his interview:

  • The quarterbacks are competing well as a unit which is a new dynamic for a team that saw Brett Hundley leading the way for 3 years. As a result, the staff may continue the quarterback rotation through the rest of spring, as they are all getting better by having focused time with the top unit.
  • Josh Rosen in particular is ahead of where he'd expect, and Mazzone credited Rosen's high school coach and system for that as well as saying that Rosen is "a sharp guy and a big picture guy".
  • Nate Starks is a "different guy" and in a good way. Mazzone said he is excited about him, especially how he has picked up the offense and how he doesn't make many mental mistakes, and credited his transformed body to Coach Sal Alosi.
  • Nate Iese will get more involved in the offense and will get moved around to different spots and not just play FB.
  • Incoming TE Chris Clark will add a dimension to the offense they don't have in terms of a big athletic player and he looks forward to him jumping in and competing.

Mazzone said that he is pleased with the offense so far and added the O Line is starting to come together and he is excited about them. Overall, the offense is "further ahead than I anticipated".

Thank you to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for all of the videos today.

WR Coach Eric Yarber also met the media and it's easy to see why recruits and players love him. He gave a rundown each of his receivers and noted that this is the deepest group of receivers he's ever had in his entire coaching career, and not just at U.C.L.A.

  • He understandably started with Jordan Payton calling him "Mr Reliable" and "The Mailman" and that he does everything well and constantly delivers.
  • Jordan Lasley is possibly the most talented player of the group, but his temper was keeping him off the field early on. Yarber said he that Lasley has been coachable and has bought in and is now letting his play do his talking now, noting he's gone 5 days without a fight. And yes, he is counting the days like it's an AA program.
  • Aaron Sharp has a lot of talent and is just working through the process of learning to make plays naturally. Right now he's thinking too much right now as any young receiver would do, but Yarber thinks his learning curve will be short.
  • Yarber used to call Alex Van Dyke Bambi for his long wobbly legs. He says Coach Alosi has made a big difference with his lower strength which is allowing him to get in and out of breaks faster.

video courtesy of Ed Lewis and BSRTV

Myles Jack and Jordan Payton also spoke to the media today.

I love Jack. He just oozes personality. Myles said he's enjoying the full time move to inside linebacker as it puts him closer to the ball and he can make more tackles and plays. He feels the transition, both from a position standpoint and a coaching standpoint with a new DC, have been smooth so far. He said he added a few pounds but really didn't change much else to prepare for his new role, and he still relishes his ability to cover receivers. He noted that since an early practice when're Mossi Johnson caught 3 balls on him, he hasn't given up a completion since, and the current score between the two is Myles 10, Mossi 3.

But lest we think the ILB spot hasn't been somewhat of a change for Jack, just look at his practice jersey. It was new 2 weeks ago. I'm sure those rips and tears have nothing to do with those big linemen getting their hands on his jersey and holding him a bit. Those guys never hold, right?

video courtesy of Ed Lewis and BSRTV

Jordan Payton siad he loves working with each of the quarterbacks and is enjoying seeing the competition in that position. He did say it is impressive how fast Rosen has gotten comfortable running the offense and that he has great potential. He also seems to enjoy the de facto leadership role he has assumed on the WR unit in talking about the younger players and how he is helping them to develop.

video courtesy of Ed Lewis and BSRTV

Ed Lewis from BSR and OC Reporter Joey Kaufman talked about some of their observations from today's practice, most notably an apparent injury to OL Simon Goines, and the continued smooth sailing by the offense with Josh Rosen taking the snaps.

Thanks again to Ed Lewis and BSR for all the videos today.

The Bruins next practice is tomorrow so hopefully we will see some of the minor injuries get back on the field.