UCLA Football Spring Practice, Day One: Checks and checkdowns


UCLA football’s 2012 Spring Practice has begun!

The first day of Spring Practice on April 3 was pretty event-filled, and there’s a lot to talk about. Because I’m like a giddy schoolgirl when it comes to UCLA football — I’ve only been here for nearly one academic year; give me a break, jerks — I may be just super stoked that I went, and that there are quite a few more of these.

Because I’ve only been here one year, it’s harder for me to evaluate how spring practice has gone in comparison to past years. So I’ll refer back to friends’ comments a lot, because social support leads to a healthy lifestyle. (Trust me on this — I’m a psychology major.)

From a fan perspective

No one cares about the experience, but I’m going to give it to you anyway. There was definitely a crowd, and as a pal of GJB @RampartBruin, it was quite larger than last year’s. Seeing all the coaches and players live and up close is always fun, especially for a wide-eyed kid like me. Murmurs and giggles and ooh’s and ahh’s were in abundance in the crowd, too, so they weren’t a passive bunch.

The Football

The position seemingly everyone was curious as hell about was the QB position. Kevin Prince, Jerry Neuheisel, Brett Hundley, T.J. Millweard, Richard Brehaut and walk-on Mark Fafaul all got reps, and a pretty equal amount, too.

How did Brett Hundley, apparently everyone’s favorite to win the starting job, look? He over-shot a lot of passes, and as a friend mentioned, it might’ve been rust. This is a solid claim, since over-throwing seems to be the common denominator of overly-rested QBs. He showed how strong of an arm he has, but it isn’t as if he was dead accurate. He showed solid pocket presence, but that over-throwing was pretty bad. Of course, this was just Day One, so whatever, dude.

How about Richard Brehaut, the QB I’d put money on to win the starting job, do? He looked alright, too, although what we saw from him was mostly checkdowns (as was the case for nearly every QB that got reps). I would also say he was the most accurate of the QBs getting reps, and even then he was a little off, though he did have a nice, long completion during a short scrimmage.

And Kevin Prince? Well … he was Kevin Prince. Spotty, inconsistent but promising. Two of his throws during what looked like an 11-on-11 scrimmage (I wouldn’t know, since I’m an idiot and didn’t count) looked erratic and misguided as hell. I’ve never been a huge KP fan, but I’m sure we all can agree that him getting the starting spot was a longshot coming into the damn thing.

Jerry Neuheisel was surprisingly good, although he never threw a deep ball. He had his erratic throws, to be sure, but for the most part, he was quietly impressive. Nothing to blow your mind out of the water, but definitely something to get you saying, “Hey look, it’s Rick Neuheisel’s kid.”

T.J. Millweard is definitely a raw talent, and he’ll continue to develop as Spring Practice continues on. His throws were erratic checkdowns — so it seemed; I’m open to being contested since, for some reason, I cannot remember too much from Millweard — but I’m assuming that it might’ve been jitters since he did just come to UCLA, like, this week.

And Mark Fafaul? I don’t know where the hell this kid came from, or anything about him, really, but he held his own, and if you didn’t have numbers on any of these guys, you couldn’t tell them apart, which is good for Mark Fafaul, the walk-on. (H/T to @BruinsBall at BruinsBall.com for letting me know this kid was a walk-on in the first place.)

Everyone else…

The most salient part of today’s practice was Jonathan Motha’ F***in’ Franklin, because the dude was killing it. He’s got legitimate vision and is quick and shifty as hell. He had quite a few little highlights, and he was, by far, the most fun person to watch. Why has this guy not gotten as much buzz as he should be?

Our DBs are going to need these extra reps, because they had a hard time covering the wide-outs, even though, on quite a few occasions, the WRs failed to haul in easy passes.

Wide-outs were interesting to watch, and Devin Lucien and Jerry Johnson were probably the most fun to watch. (There was even a moment where Johnson got into a scuffle with a DB, looked to the crowd and yelled, “LET’S GO!” to which everyone gave a little holler and a nice golf clap.)

Speaking of kerfuffles, there were a good number of them, namely in the trenches, and there was even a punch thrown between linemen, it looked like. (Seriously.) The level of physicality on the field was, as @BruinsBall and @RampartBruin had told me, much more physical and fast than last year’s Spring Practice. Of course, Jim Mora said that he “doesn’t like scuffles” and would “discourage them” during practice. His reasoning? “It’s part of being a disciplined football team.”

Good answer, although we cannot argue with the level of intensity in practice. This is just Day One, folks. See you Thursday.