UCLA Football Spring Practice: Day 3 – First day in pads

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Theo Howard /

The UCLA football team had a change in time and  structure for Day 3 of spring practice as the Bruins went in full pads two hours early due to potential rain.

It was a scene straight out of Eugene, OR as the UCLA football team practiced under overcast Westwood skies as rain was expected for the latest edition of spring football. The Bruins had changed the time of their practice from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m. to avoid this, though Day 3 was hit with some little drizzle anyway.

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That did not stop the Bruins who continued practicing their uptempo style and getting as many reps to their players as possible.

But things were a bit different in this practice. Anything involving the offense versus the defense was taken to the northern field, opposite of where fans were observing practice on Lot 8, while position drills were held mostly on the southern field. This meant that fans and media in the standing room only viewing area got a good view of drills, and not so much of the offense and defense.

This might be because head Chip Kelly is implementing more schemes and wants to limit the observations from those viewing practice. Fair enough. Though it was at a distance, we could still see the offense going at a fast tempo.

On average, it was about 20 seconds between each snap, from what I could tell. Players on both sides of the ball were sprinting back to their positions, ready for the next play. Once the offense got down the field or the defense made the stop, another set of players on offense and defense got to the line of scrimmage and usually in position before the previous groups ran off. It was that fast.

Despite not being able to see specifics with players, I could tell that the offense was working in all of their weapons. Receivers were attempting catches all over the field, running backs were getting reps and even the quarterbacks were getting in on runs. If it was RPO and zone reads you want Bruins fans, you got it.

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Drills were also handled differently and this could be due to the fact that the team was in pads as there was a lot of focus on fundamentals and form, especially in the second hour. Offensive drills in the first hour started with backs carrying balls and QBs throwing to WRs practicing their routes, but the second half of practice had QBs hold onto the ball (going through the motions) while potential receivers focused on proper route running and getting in position for the reception.

Quarterbacks were working on footwork, drop backs and throwing motion. Running backs were working on protecting the football. During drills, RB coach DeShaun Foster yelled at everyone to “get that wrist above the elbow”. Receivers worked on starting on the line and positioning themselves on routes.

The defense had their own fundamentals to work on as well. While broken into groups, coaches had their players work on stances, hand position, where to hit when initiating contact, footwork and focus. And once again these drills went at a particular pace as the players seem to be assimilating to the “go, go, go” mentally.

Not only that, it seemed that every one was vocal. That was a lot of hollering and cheering, especially after the offense or defense made a play in 11-on-11s and skeleton drills. Coaches even got into the yelling matches as one was overheard screaming, “gotta win the down”.

Though it was a practice focused on fundamentals, there were a few highlights to speak of:

  • WR Theo Howard continues to impress. He had a one-handed grab from a pass thrown behind him.
  • WR Demetric Felton showed good explosiveness and pivot on comeback routes. He also had a few nice catches.
  • Bolu Olorunfunmi looks significantly bigger and had some nice catches. Running backs have been right in the middle of receiving drills.
  • K JJ Molson was nailing 40+ yard field goals with ease. He was also putting up 70-yard kickoffs.

Players That Have Left the Program

Before practice, Kelly confirmed that six players have left the program: OL Stephan Zabie, RB Jalen Starks, LB DeChaun Holiday, DB Will Lockett , DB Denzel Fisher and DB Octavius Spencer.

Next: The 30 Greatest UCLA Football Players of All-Time

Players in No-Contact Jerseys

TE Caleb Wilson, OL Jax Wacaser, OL Mike Alves, DE Jean Phillips, LB Josh Woods, LB Lokeni Toailoa, DB Keypn Riley and DB Colin Samuel