Yesterday was UCLA Football’s final Spring Practice in March. Prior to practice yesterday, Chip Kelly met with the media and explained that the reason for holding some practices in March has to do with recruiting.
There is a period between April 15th and May 31st where the coaches can be on the road evaluating recruits and, so to avoid having a conflict between Spring Practice and recruiting needs, Coach Kelly scheduled the first few weeks of Spring Practice in March.
It gives the coaching staff an added benefit as well as they will now have some time to review the practice films and assess where players are at. Kelly said that the players “were better in Practice 5 than they were in Practice 4 and that’s what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
When asked about the quarterback competition and how far along in the process the staff is in terms of picking a starter, Kelly said:
We haven’t even thought about that. We’re five practices in to the first time these guys have ever been exposed to our system. I don’t think we play until September 1st. So, we’re not in a rush to pick a starter. There’s no starters in any position. We’re trying to get guys reps and quality snaps on the field.
He added that, right now, they are just splitting up snaps between players.
Of course, the coaches continue to run the players through various drills. Considering that one of the biggest areas of concern is the offensive line. Let’s take a peek into some of the drills that new line coach Justin Frye was working on yesterday with the offensive linemen.
Chip Kelly’s full pre-practice interview is courtesy of UCLA Athletics on YouTube.
During practice itself, the team was in full pads again yesterday and the team actually scrimmaged during two separate periods of the session. The team had officials on the field, but there wasn’t a single penalty flag thrown. For that matter, in the three practices I’ve observed so far this Spring, I have yet to see one player jump on a false start.
So far, it looks like Coach Kelly and staff have managed to eliminate the penalty problem very quickly, at least as far as penalties in practices.
Meanwhile, after practice Bruin running backs Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo spoke about the fourth different offense they’ve had in four years.
Bolu spoke about Coach Kelly’s philosophy and the mental toughness he requires. “It’s more mental than physical,” Olorunfunmi said. “If you control your mental, you can control your physical. So, no matter how tired you are as long as your mind is strong, you can succeed.”
Soso seemed particularly pleased with the new training staff. He offered a little bit of a comparison between the two. “They just do a lot of things different from the last training staff and, what they’re doing, I like. I love it,” Jamabo excIaimed. “I feel like I’m getting faster and stronger. In all all facets of the game, I just feel like I’m getting better and they’re just getting started. So, I’m excited to see where I end up by the time Fall comes around.”
During practice yesterday, the running backs were running a drill that is familiar to anyone who watched them practice last year.
All the ball carriers lined up for this drill yesterday as well. This one looks like a lot of fun.
Of course, here’s the full video of the players’ interviews from after practice, courtesy of UCLA Athletics on YouTube.
UCLA will resume Spring Practice in April after a two-week break for final exams and Spring Break. Practice times have not yet been announced.