The UCLA Bruins Football team held its ninth practice (out of 14, not counting the "showcase") this morning and the offense seems to be playing better now. Maybe saying the "won" is a bit much, but it's spring practice so just roll with it.
Play with the sound on for extra oomf :)
Let's jump right into the most interesting quote that came out of Mora today when speaking to the beat writers. The final question in the 12 minute interview was whether the playbook was smaller now to which Mora struggled to find the right words before eventually saying after a long pause:
We have a playbook now. ... And it's a little bit more detailed.
LOL. Was his struggling a sign of typical CYA speak for keeping Noel far too long, or was it sincere in that he didn't want to speak ill of Noel's "different" offense? I don't know, you tell me. I'll speak for myself here in that I like hearing the buzz words of "physical" and "detailed" over Noel's "Aw shucks..I just call 5 plays" shtick. To be sure, we will need to wait until the Fall to find out.
Mora mentioned that defensive back Tahaan Goodman has been a much more consistent player who is better in every aspect of practice. He said he's been "quieter" which, he thinks, is good for Goodman. I hope what he means is that Goodman is not going to go headhunting next season. We all want these stupid plays eliminated.
Finally, the offense seems to have taken more steps forward. Mora mentioned that he was encouraged by today's practice and that Tui (QB Coach Tuiasosopo) called Monday Rosen's best day of the spring. This is in spite of the interior of the offensive line being in flux. The starting tackles seem to be locked down by Conor McDermott and Kolton Miller but the inside is still a work-in-progress with Scott Quessenberry doing a good job at center (until Jake from StateFarm shows up, that is). Well, at least the offense is pretty much done installing the new stuff.
Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley also spoke with the beat writers today. Watch the video below courtesy of Ed Lewis.
My impression is that Bradley is preparing for the worst. The injury bug was severe last season and I don't think the coaches will be caught-off guard. Bradley mentions that they are developing depth in some areas by "doubling up some players" having them play both ways through "mental reps," though only for the older guys.
In general, Bradley seems to be pleased with the progress and said that they are further along than they were last spring. I hope this is because they are sticking to the fundamentals and keeping it as simple as possible, but not simpler.
The Mike linebacker competition seems to be good one between Kenny Young and Isaako Savaiinaea. Bradley and Coach White want to make the competition as fair as possible by having them focus on only playing one position. My impression is that Kenny Young is still developing the mental aspect of the game.
Two players spoke with the media today, both redshirt freshman, new Tight End Austin Roberts from the offense and Cornerback Adarius Pickett from the defense.
Thanks again to Ed Lewis for sharing these videos.
Roberts talked about the switch from receiver to tight end. He gained 15 pounds over the winter workouts and is now at 230 lbs. though he feels faster than ever while stronger. He's still working on his technique and toughness and affirms what many players have been saying: that the offense is going to be more 'physical.'
Adaius Pickett is our last interview and he "loves to hit." He spoke about the work the team has done in the weight-room and credits Coach Alosi but mainly the leaders on the team for getting everyone to buy-in and get stronger. Pickett said that that they "[took] last season into [their] thoughts and into [their] workouts" so they don't get kicked around by teams like Stanford.
With so much talk about physicality, I wish I could see some videos of the practices. The players definitely look much bigger on camera.
In Mora's video he detailed some of the injuries.
Incoming freshman Mique Juarez and Breland Brandt are out due to possible concussions and we all know Mora doesn't mess around with head injuries. Hopefully, they are not concussions and they can get back out there to learn and play with their new teammates.
Another incoming freshman wide receiver Demetric Felton, who along with Theo Howard was making some waves, suffered a shoulder injury which will need surgery according to Mora. It happened on a non-contact drill.
Veteran safety/cornerback Randall Goforth was limited on some drills as he has a contusion above his knee that he's fighting through.
Redshirt freshman Josh Woods is slowly trying to get back from hamstring injury and it seems that Mora's a bit worried about it and doesn't want it to linger. We're going to need Woods ready come Fall.
Tevita Halalilo suffered a set-back and will need to get his ankle surgically repaired.
Get well soon, guys!