UCLA’s football team finished off Spring Practice with a pretty remarkable Spring Game, which saw 13,000 UCLA fans, students and alum in attendance. For those who are curious, it’s worth noting that U$C had 15,000 in attendance for their Spring Game (h/t: @CarlosListon), important for comparisons to realize that there was definitely a lively crowd.
It was quite the set of scrimmage and was, for the most part, exciting as hell.
Let’s break it down into two categories: Offense and defense.
UCLA’s offense was supposedly running a “vanilla” version of their offense on Saturday. If that was vanilla, what the hell are to we expect in September?
UCLA’s offense was pretty damn explosive; the squad had no issues tossing throws down-field and, in the cases of Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley (more on them in a tick), had no problem completing them. On the ground game, Steve Manfro — that’s his real name — was a friggin’ animal and was easily the most explosive player of them all today. (We’re not sure how he shifts so effortlessly and without a jerky-ness to his step, but the dude is so damn smooth.)
As for those QBs? It’s a two-man race, easy. Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley, to these eyes, are neck-and-neck, despite what some Brett Hundley-centric UCLA fans and reporters will tell you. Hundley was the more mobile of the QBs and burned the defense with his legs, while also making some legitimate passes down-field, but Richard Brehaut had some incredible throws in some tight spots while also completing a number of bombs.
Wide-out wise, well, where the hell did Tyler Scott, a redshirt freshman, come from? The dude caught three bombs for touchdowns and had legit explosion to separate himself from his defender.
Of course, Jerry Johnson, in his senior season (which sucks, because he’s barely played over the past three years), proved that he’ll be a force this September, too.
Overall, the offense was explosive. Of course, it had its moments. Which was less of a product of sloppy offensive play and more due to …
This is a little bittersweet. Because while the offense had some legitimate play from Brehaut and Hundley, it will be wrongly assumed that the defense didn’t do its job.
It did, though, and we’re seeing things we haven’t seen from our defense before: Aggressive blitzes, solid coverage (forcing Hundley and Brehaut to make great throws into tight spaces), and formidable tackling (with the exception of Steven Manfro, who doesn’t get tackled; he just falls whenever he gets tired from running [ironically, he doesn't get tired from running ...]). We’re not saying this was a picture-perfect performance from the D, but we’re suggesting that this defense is much improved thanks to a beefy defensive line and solid coverage guys to go along with good linebackers (and, of course, big guy Ellis McCarthy isn’t even here yet).
QUARTERBACKS: B+ … Brehaut and Hundley carried the load here, and while Jerry Neuheisel played well (despite not getting the reps the dude deserves, to these eyes), Kevin Prince, T.J. Millweard and Mark Fafaul really lagged it. (We’re sure this could’ve been a bad day, but it has an impact on the QB’s grade overall.)
RUNNING BACKS: A … I should give you more analysis; however, only one thing needs to be said: MANfro!
WIDE RECEIVERS: C- … In all honesty, this grade is a little too critical. (Much like UCLA, we’re fighting grade inflation, so take that!) However, the wide-outs did have a good number of dropped passes, and though they were never passes with tight coverage, they were definitely catchable balls on the part of the receiver.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B … I’m an idiot who was with friends watching the game, so I didn’t pay attention to the offensive line as much as I should have; however, the defensive line had its way sometimes and got to the QB pretty often. Still, you’ll see real improvement when the QBs aren’t regularly forced to run for their lives. On the running aspect, they did a nice job of blocking but we all know that MANfro doesn’t need blockers: He just needs the ball.
THE FRONT (DEFENSIVE) 7: A- … The line was aggressive as hell, and it isn’t fair to look at the linebackers without looking at the entire front seven in a 3-4 defense, at least in this context. All balls thrown out the flat (that weren’t given to Steven MANfro) were immediately tipped, picked off or received, but no yards were gained.
THE SECONDARY: D+ … I think this might be unfair because, in all honesty, the receivers didn’t always separate that much from the DBs, and when they did, the DBs recovered (and tackled) well. But you can’t excuse giving up so many long bombs, and that can be put on the secondary for probably not being more aggressive and physical with wide-outs to throw off their routes right off the line.
Do you disagree with anything? Saw something different? Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitter: @GoJoeBruinUCLA