It was a cloudy day in Pasadena, California where over 8,000 UCLA football fans descended upon the Rose Bowl to watch the boys in blue and gold perform for the last time until fall camp in August. Despite the early 10 a.m. start time, which was due to programming from the Pac-12 Network, there were plenty of Bruin fans tailgating and getting to the Rose Bowl early to join in the festivities that go along with pre-gaming.
More from UCLA Bruins Football
- UCLA Football: It’s time for the nation to meet Dante Moore
- UCLA Football: Where are they ranked heading into week 4
- UCLA Football: Position battle breakdown for Utah showdown
- UCLA vs. Utah: Location, time, prediction, and more
- UCLA Football: Highlights from Chip Kelly’s appearance on the Jim Rome Show
Once inside the gates, the distribution of programs, the sale of Bruin merchandise and the small amount of food vendors made it feel like a proper game day, though only a portion of the stadium was available to the public. Fans were directed to the west side of the Rose Bowl to sit in designated sections just below the Terry Donahue Pavilion. Once things started, fans were treated to less of a game and more like a glorified practice.
Though the Bruins did go through 11-on-11, it was mostly position drills going on in the first hour. That may seem boring, but to those interested in the development of the UCLA football team it was great. It just was not very exciting. Though head coach Jim Mora had a reason for that: if it was a game, recruits would have to be in the stands. As a practice, they could get up close to the action.
And there were a lot of recruits there.
But What About The QB Competition???
When it came to the 11 on 11’s, UCLA fans perked up as they were able to get a look at not just four, but five quarterbacks during the Showcase.
The four main candidates, Jerry Neuheisel, Asiantii Woulard, Josh Rosen and Mike Fafaul had the majority of snaps, but junior Jake Hall was able to show what he was capable of during one of the last drives of the practice, yet did not make as big a splash as the others.
As for the four other QBs, they all had strong drives. One of the more notable ones was Woulard’s first in which he had a 45-yard connection with Jordan Lasley.
But things got a lot more focused when it was Rosen’s turn. Though he had two interceptions he looked great in his drives. In his first go-round with the offense, he completed eight of nine passes that ended with a touchdown to Tyler Scott.
It was truly hypnotizing. The Rose Bowl crowd got noticeably quieter when he was behind center. He was clearly in a league of his own, but when asked if there was a number one quarterback Mora replied…
That may be, but it physically looks like Rosen is ahead of the pack.
A Great Defense Is Bruin
Myles Jack and Coach Jim Mora return to Washington this Saturday. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
As for the defense, I keep saying that they look like they have not lost a step since the Alamo Bowl back on January 2. Today was no different as they constantly harassed every quarterback the offensive coaches sent out against them. They forced two interceptions on Rosen, limited Hall and Fafaul and swarmed the offensive passing game when Neuheisel and Woulard were up.
Though it has been debated if the defense will run a 3-4 or 4-3, today it seemed like they were set in a 4-2-5 nickel formation (thank GJB writer Michael Hanna for that bit of information). The Bruins had several players play on the line and often played with less coverage in the middle with the defensive backs mostly covering the sidelines (there was not a lot of balls down the middle of the field).
Now mind you, the defense was not going all out, as there is no point to risking any injuries in the Showcase, but what we can take away from Spring Practice is that the defense is very dangerous and has a lot of talent to lead them in 2015.
Notable UCLA Football Performances
Craig Lee looked great. With Paul Perkins sitting out a lot of drives (why risk an injury?), we got to see a lot of the younger and lesser played running backs like Lee, Roosevelt Davis and Steven Manfro.
Today, it was the Craig Lee show as he had several fantastic displays of his skill. The most impressive thing that is noticeable about Lee is how elusive he is which helps him find holes in the line.
Wide receiver Tyler Scott was another player that shined at the Showcase. Just like the running backs, the potential starting receivers were saved which gave the young WRs a chance to show their talents. Though we saw the likes of Thomas Duarte and Jordan Lasley get a lot of balls thrown their way, it seemed that Scott was shined brightest, especially catching two touchdown passes from Rosen and one form Neuheisel
Nov 8, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; UCLA Bruins kicker Kaimi Fairbairn (15) kicks a 46-yard field goal against the Washington Huskies during the fourth quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Oh yeah, let us not forget kicker Kaimi Fairbairn who missed his first field goal, but made two impressive scores of approximately 48 and 52 yards. That is good news for the kicking game.
Well that is it until the fall but not for us at Go Joe Bruin. Follow along all summer as we prepare for the the 2015 football season which starts Saturday, September 5 at the Rose Bowl against Virginia.