UCLA Football Spring Practice: Day 3 – A closer look at the quarterbacks

BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 of the UCLA Bruins throws in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on September 28, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 of the UCLA Bruins throws in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on September 28, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The UCLA football team was back at it on Saturday and Go Joe Bruin was there to get a closer look at the Bruins’ quarterbacks.

We are already well aware that the UCLA football team has issues with depth at quarterback, but is the situation dire? This is what I wanted to find out when I went to practice on Saturday.

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First off, I would just like to say “bravo” to the security at practice who were on top of things at Lot 8. Not only could I not take photos, but they would not allow me to have my phone out at all. I did not mind this, knowing where these orders came down from (*cough*cough*Chip Kelly*cough*cough*). Either way, I was here to observe, not prep my next installation at the Broad Museum.

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Those of us at Lot 8 were also limited to what we could clearly view as the Bruins would run their 11-on-11s and defensive drills on the north field away from us spectators and media types. No worries, I was here to check out the offense, especially the QBS, who were on the south field just in front of us.

As they ought to do, UCLA began practice with drills and right smack in the middle of the south field, four Bruins in red jerseys were going through non-throwing position drills with QB coach Dana Bible barking at the four QBs about their posture, stances, and footwork.

The QBs working out were Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Austin Burton, Chase Griffin, and Josiah Norwood.

As expected, Griffin was still not throwing as he is nursing a wrist injury (yet he was not in a yellow non-contact jersey). But what everyone did notice about Griffin was his energy and spirit. He was not throwing the ball, but he was definitely sprinting to the next drill. Every single time. I already like this guy’s moxie and work ethic.

Norwood did not participate in 11-on-11s and was limited to throwing drills with receivers. One thing I can say about him is that he has some determination in him. And why not? He is two injuries away from getting into the game. Still, though he lacks the arm strength, he was putting a lot of effort into his throws.

In drills, DTR looked a tad sharper with his throws. He seems to be working on his accuracy and for the most part, hit every receiver he threw to. Things were different when it came to game situations, which I will get to in a second.

Burton did well with his accuracy and used his legs on several occasions to get out of sticky situations, but he also needs to work on his arm strength. On almost every throw, he put extra effort into getting the ball to his intended receiver. When the passes went past 15 yards, you could see the effort he was forced to put into his throw as he had to reach farther back in order to put some zip on the pass.

When it came to 11-on-11s, DTR was with the 1s and Burton was with the 2s. From the few plays I was able to observe with my trusty binoculars (I was surprised this wasn’t shut down), I noticed that DTR had a slightly tougher time throwing, though he was going against the first team defense, while Burton was going against the second team.

For the most part, Thompson-Robinson was able to control the offense and move them downfield. Unfortunately, his accuracy slipped a bit when he was pressured or rolling out (don’t panic everyone, this is only the first week of Spring Practice). On the plus side, he was able to connect on a lot of short throws and if he got into trouble, he would use his legs to get out of the backfield and get some positive yardage.

Another thing I noticed is that his decision making appears to be a lot better. He is definitely more poised in the pocket and looked to roll through his receiving progression a lot better. He reminded me of Josh Rosen in this aspect.

Burton was a bit of a surprise. As QB2, he knows what is expected of him and at any moment he could be called in to lead the offense, so his urgency to succeed was prevalent. Burton still needs to work on his accuracy, but for the most part, he did a solid job of getting the ball to his receivers.

At one point, on back-to-back plays, Burton had lofted a ball to Demetric Felton (who is very active in the offense) for what looked like a 25-yard gain and followed that up by zipping the ball to an unknown receiver (I did not get a chance to his number, remember, this was on the far field) in the middle of traffic and split two defenders.

It also looks as if Burton is being allowed to run a bit more and he looked good doing it. Not only was he able to find the holes in the line, but he was able to get positive yardage.

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Overall, it was not a bad practice for QB play, but there is definitely room for improvement.