UCLA football has finished up its seventh day of Spring Practice, which makes Wednesday the kind-of sort-of official halfway mark of Spring Practice, with seven of the 15 practices in the books.
The narrative dominating Spaulding Field these days is that of tempo, physicality, aggressiveness and scrappiness. This is good to hear, considering the way things went south last year with this team — where penalties killed our Bruins, while our defense and overall discipline was as imagined as Tupac’s performance this weekend at Coachella.
(Had to reference it. I’m trying here, guys, I really am.)
The talk surrounding Bruin football has been nothing but positive. Thank goodness. Let’s take you around the UCLA blogosphere to get you caught up with the football team.
Inside UCLA. Apparently, the running backs were solid as hell on Tuesday. Of course, while that’s cool and all, we should be concerned with the amount of injuries piling up for UCLA:
Senior wide receiver Jerry Johnson (quad) and junior Damien Thigpen joined an ever-growing cast of injured players, which numbers over 20. … Junior cornerback Brandon Sermons practiced on Tuesday with his hand wrapped in a cast. … Senior cornerback Aaron Hester practiced in a red jersey after suffering concussion-like symptoms.
The good thing is that nothing seems too serious, and it all seems to be a byproduct of fatigue and not being hit significantly since the debacle that was the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The bad thing is that, well, they’re injured.
Bruins Ball. In typical Bruins Ball fashion, which has gained considerable notoriety the past few weeks for their on-point-as-hell, biases-be-damned approach, the guys down there break down what was going on at Spaulding with incredible detail. Some nuggets:
It was another beautiful day in the Westwood neighborhood.
What a shame the fans were not there to share it: The crowd has now thinned out substantially.
That was obviously a shot at Go Joe Bruin. (Not really, but we didn’t attend; we blame our beloved institution for forcing us to read 1000 pages per week.)
And then, of course, the level of realism in practice has kicked up considerably:
Drills appear to mimic, at least with the piped in crowd noise, a continued state of game-play. At one point, as the practice continues to gear towards an actual football game, the coaching staff had cleared the field such that only the referees, the 11 defenders and 11 offensive players were out on the snap.
Defensively, the 1-on-1 match-ups (similar to trench blocking or the Oklahoma Drill) include various types of blitzers; LB’s, DB’s and the DL got into the mix.
This should come to readers as exciting: Mora continues to deliver drills specifically aimed at shoring up any surprises.
This was Mora’s plan to begin Spring Practice; his methodology of conducting practices — “practices are supposed to be harder than the actual games” — is obviously being put into play, and the dude will not stop pushing a team that’s poised to, well, keep pushing.
Additionally, the QB competition has gotten interesting (more so than it already was):
On a positive note: Millweard, especially, showed better control of audibles and blocking check-offs during the 11-on-11’s. His throwing motion also continues to improve with time under Coach Mazzone’s continual tutelage.
Also showing a clear grasp on offense was QB Richard Brehaut. Brehaut delivered a few nice touch passes, hitting receivers with a couple difficult throws.
QB Prince still looks like he has a hard time during the scrimmage portions of practice. On at least three different throws, Prince was affixed on his primary. Any roaming defender just needs to look at his eyes and they’ll know where the ball’s going.
Prince also exhibits “happy feet;” More so than any other QB, he was flushed out of the pocket and a number of times had to eat the throw with the defense clinging to his receivers.
That last bit — Prince’s “happy feet” — ticks me (and I’m sure a ton of other UCLA fans) off; the fact that the dude still has little to no pocket presence, despite this probably being the reason he was such an interception magnet for a good chunk of last season, is really disappointing. His inability to stay in the pocket and propensity to run instead of checking off his options got us into some serious trouble in 2011. It’s also why our offense was so stagnant on the road last season, with Prince’s “happy feet” being indicative of the fact that he’s easy to rattle. This upsets me to no end because we’re sure the dude is working like a horse out there, but cannot seem to keep calm in the pocket.
UCLABruins.com (VIDEO with Jim Mora):
Jim Mora gives his post-practice presser, and there doesn’t seem to be variation from the Day One presser when compared to Day Seven. As usual, Mora gives praise to all players that are brought to his attention while also reminding the media that the guys are still running under a new system, so mistakes are to be expected.
UCLABruins.com: An oldie, but goodie
UCLA tight-end Joe Fauria conducts some pretty interesting interviews. This was done last Saturday, but it’s worth watching. My favorite exchange? Fauria’s interview of Austin Prince.
That’ll do it for Day Seven, guys. Be sure to keep your eyeballs glued to Go Joe Bruin, just because.