U.C.L.A. Football has returned to Westwood and two a days on campus. The Bruins focused on situational drills in the morning and had another practice this evening. Even though the team is back at home, they are still practicing in an unfamiliar setting, the IM Field.
It's a neat setting because you can see the campus. We've got 2 100 yards fields with tons of space, so we're getting used to that. We appreciate the fact that U.C.L.A. lets us use the IM Fields, U.C.L.A. Rec, because this is a big commitment by them and it helps us.
We have to get used to all the lines on the field.
Right. Those are called "40 yard lines". Weird, I know.
The IM Field is now covered with field turf, but they still have 60 yards of grass on Spaulding they will use prepare when they are playing on grass fields and the kickers will primarily be using that surface.
Mora went on to say they will start some early preparations for Virginia tomorrow, but he has not made any decisions on quarterbacks and there have not been any discussions with players or staff and furthermore he would not put a timeline on it. While it seems that it would be best to get the starter maximum reps before the opener, it does't sound like the staff is either prepared to name a starter, or perhaps the starter isn't yet prepared to be one. Either way, after saying at the start of San Bernardino that they hoped to start narrowing down reps after 4 or 5 practices, this could be seen as a concerning (absence of) development.
Mora said he was pleased with the progress that freshman TE Chris Clark has made as he recovers from mono. He was in full pads yesterday and is starting to get some reps.
Mora was asked about Simon Goines' outlook this year and said it is "uncertain at this time". Personally, I read that as a very bad sign for him. He has never really gotten right following his knee injuries, and it doesn't look like there is much light ahead any time soon. It also really thins out the depth at tackle.
On the good side, Jake Brendel and Conor McDermott both practiced today which is good news of the offense. Even better, the Offensive Line is "no longer a concern" to Chris Foster with the LAT. Foster is of course known for his history of being overly positive and enthusiastic about the Bruins future. Well, maybe not always. But Jerry Neu has always kept his head up, and he is pretty positive about the line, too.
"It's the best I have ever been around," junior quarterback Jerry Neuheisel, who has spent the last 3 1/2 years in the program, said of the line. "We have had a lot of moving parts over the years. To have a corps of guys who have game experience, as a quarterback, that's very comforting."
Said tackle Caleb Benenoch: "We've developed into a physical, physical, very talented group. Coach Klemm has helped us reach our potential. A lot guys go to college and they don't reach their potential."
I want this to be the case, but considering pass protection and penalties, there is still plenty of room for growth in potential, and hopefully we'll see that on the field in the coming Saturdays. Recruiting has definitely improved the depth in the unit as well as getting some players back from injury.
UCLA gave up 40 sacks last season, but that problem dissipated when McDermott took over at left tackle. UCLA gave up 25 sacks in the first six games and 15 in seven games after McDermott was inserted into the lineup.
Thanks to Ed Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the videos after this morning's practice.
Adarius Pickett has been getting a lot of notice for his play in the secondary through preseason camp. He credited his preparation during the summer with Coach Alosi as well as with teammates for getting him well prepared for San Bernardino. He still considers himself a safety even though the staff had him take a few reps at running back during the last two weeks and doesn't seem to anticipate any real time with the offense.
Freshman Defensive End Rick Wade has also been getting good reviews. He's put on about 20 pounds in the off season and is up to about 255 now, and he feels stronger and more flexible and hopes that will help him get some playing time this year. He noted that Takkarist McKinley had a bit of a head injury and that he and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner were in line to get in the rotation.
Foster had some other important notes today, including:
- Running back Steven Manfro, who had minor surgery on his right knee two weeks ago, was back at practice Tuesday but was limited to individual drills. He is expected to be available for contact drills next week.
- Defensive end Takkarist McKinley, out nearly a week because of a concussion, was allowed to return to contact drills.
- Running back Craig Lee rejoined the Bruins Tuesday after finishing a summer class.
It's great to see these three back on the field. Congrats to Lee for getting the books in order. The running back roster is already deep and talented, and Lee's return will bolster that further.