It was a beautiful spring morning on campus today. The sun was shining. It was you would expect from a perfect day during Spring quarter.
What made it more perfect was that football was being played.
Spring practice is a time for learning and there was a lot of learning going on. While the talking points might say that UCLA doesn't have a new system, the approach of the coaching staff appears to be very instructive as there do seem to be a lot of changes to the Bruins' offensive and defensive systems.
Of course, the coaches could be teaching only the new stuff now and reserving the old stuff for later knowing that most of the team is familiar with those plays and formations.
But, at the same time, it wasn't just learning the new stuff that coaches were focused on. Coach Scott White spent time this morning with the linebacking corps focusing on their technique as he had them attack a blocking sled.
It's little things like this that make going out to watch the team fun.
Additionally, it was the team's first day in full pads. In his post-practice press conference, Coach Jim Mora praised what he called the business-like intensity the team had shown. Mora said:
"They're going about their business in a very business-like way. They are able to compete hard with intensity and physicality while still taking care of each other without cheap shots or putting guys on the ground...because when you get guys on the ground, you end up having some problems [with injuries]."
Mora also said he told the players that one area for improvement was when the team regroups after individual drills. He said that there are a "tremendous amount" of false starts at that point in practice and "that's a symptom of a lack of concentration early in practice and as they go through practice [that goes away]. We have to be able to get through that earlier." Hopefully, eliminating that in practice will have the added benefit of eliminating that during games.
One other interesting note: Walk-on punter Adam Searl who had been suspended indefinitely last season after he was arrested on suspicion of rape has returned to the team. A UCLA spokesman confirmed that, in January, UCLA received notice that criminal charges would not be filed against Searl. He added that Searl is currently a student in good standing, that he has been reinstated as a walk-on member of the football team and that FERPA prohibits the disclosure of any further details in regard to this matter.