The UCLA Football team held its annual Spring Showcase today at Drake Stadium. When Coach Mora announced that the Showcase would be an actual game for just the second time in his tenure, he spoke about splitting the team as evenly as possible.
Well, Mora and the coaching staff did a very good job accomplishing that because it was a back-and-forth battle between the Blue team, led by Honorary Head Coach and UCLA Women’s Soccer Coach Amanda Cromwell, and the White team, led by Honorary Head Coach and UCLA Gymnastics Coach Valerie Kondos-Field.
There were times when both offenses looked like they are still learning the offense. Josh Rosen wasn’t able to do much, for instance, on the first possession for the Blue. Rosen was also intercepted in the first half by Adarius Pickett.
It was the Miss Val’s White team that got on the scoreboard first when Bolu Olurunfunmi took a short plunge to make it 6-0, White. The extra point was good.
With four seconds left in the first half, Rosen connected with Darren Andrews to tie the game at 7-7. The extra point was made by soccer coach Cromwell.
Halftime featured a presentation in which it was announced that walk-on TE/FB Giovanni Gentosi has earned a scholarship for his final two years in Westwood.
The Blue team took the lead in the third quarter when JJ Molson connected on a field goal to make it 10-7.
Jaelan Phillips showed a flash of what Bruin fans are hoping to see a lot more of when he flushed Austin Burton from the pocket and out of bounds for a loss. Andrew Strauch tied the game again for the White team with a field goal after missing one in the first half.
With time starting to run down, Jedd Fisch went to his bag of tricks. Yes, our new offensive coordinator does seem to have a bag of tricks! (The White team had Jordan Lasley throw a pass in the first half.) When Fisch called a trick play, he called a halfback option pass from Nate Starks to Caleb Wilson for a big gain and it looked like the Blue team was going to drive down the field for the winning score.
But, Matt Lynch was unable to finish the drive and the ball went back to the White team with about 2 minutes to go.
Lefty Craig Myers came in to QB the White. After a few incomplete passes and the ball on the 46-yard line, the White team went to the ground and Bolu Olurunfunmi, who promptly took it to the house for a touchdown, giving the White a 17-10 lead.
Lynch and the Blue was not able to tie it back up and turned it over on downs with about a minute left.
After the victory, the White team appropriately gave Miss Val the requisite Gatorade shower.
So, what did we learn from the game?
First, the offense is still a work in progress as neither offense seemed to light the other defense up. If season began soon, it would be a cause for concern and it may very well remain a concern heading into the season. The success of the team offensively this season may well rest on how hard the offense works between now and camp without the coaches present.
Second, our offense may finally be exciting again. The fact that on separate occasions both the Blue and White team called trick plays with passes from a back and a receiver, respectively, indicates that Jedd Fisch and Jimmy Daugherty are willing to open things up more than Bruin fans have seen in years. That could make for some really exciting football in the Fall.
The third thing we learned is that Jaelan Phillips and Darnay Holmes are ready to start contributing this season. Phillips forced Austin Burton out of bounds for a loss while Holmes did a good job returning the ball on kicks.
Of course, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered. So, it’s still too soon to tell how well the team will do come the Fall.