* Apologies for the delay, dealing with a flu bug that hit me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere. I don’t get sick often. When I do, it’s like a sick baby dinosaur. No idea what that means.
* Neuheisel paused before his opening statement at UCLA’s practice on Monday to share his thoughts on the passing of former Bruin offensive coordinator Homer Smith. Smith, who passed on Sunday at the age of 79 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., led the UCLA offense in three different stints, from 1972-73, 1980-86 and 1990-93.
“There are two men in my life who’ve made a real difference when it comes to football – Terry Donahue and Homer Smith are the reason I’m standing here in front of this camera right now,” said Neuheisel, who played for the Bruins from 1979-83, during Smith’s second stint as coordinator. “I miss Homer already.”
* The UCLA offense could’ve used Smith’s genius on Monday in what was a sloppy, disjointed effort. Two days after the first unit played better in a scrimmage situation than I’ve seen in my short tenure, they stumbled. Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley both missed throw after throw, and there even seemed a hesitation by both to run it. An early team drill was chock full of drops and missed attempts, and even some pretty runs by Johnathan Franklin and Jordon James didn’t inspire many oohs and aahs. Ricky Marvray did have an insane catch over the middle, though.
* Hundley seems to get down on himself after every bad throw and both Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson need to get on that now. And there were a lot of bad throws today.
* Redshirt freshman tight end John Young left practice early with his left shoulder in a sling after it popped out. Neuheisel said he expects Young, who missed all of last season after surgery on the same shoulder to repair a torn labrum, to return soon. Spoke with Young briefly after he walked off the field, and he didn’t look as confident.
* Sophomore linebacker Todd Golper has a small shoulder sprain that should sideline him for a couple days.
* Senior safety Tony Dye missed practice with a left knee bruise, but is expected to return shortly.
* Sophomore wide receiver Shaquelle Evans, who transferred from Notre Dame last September and missed much of the year after shoulder surgery, participated in 7-on-7 drills but will remain in a non-contact jersey. He’s got a good-looking frame, and if he emerges as a factor, UCLA should be miles better as a wide-out unit than last season.
* Anthony Barr worked almost extensively in the backfield today, and he’s getting the look at running back that Neuheisel has spoken of so often.
Neuheisel: “He’s a comfortable-looking athlete regardless of where he is. Sometimes I think he’s almost too smooth. We just want to make sure we’re getting everything we can out of him and that he’s fulfilling his full potential.”
* Spoke with Clark Lea at length after practice, and man is that guy infectious. He probably gave me this flu. Just such a clear passion for his job and the linebacker position in general. I focused on the LB corps almost exclusively during individual drills – needed a chair, and this time, it has nothing to do with laziness – and the group seems to really buy in to what he’s saying.
* Lea glowed about Eric Kendricks and Isaiah Bowens, while also showing a lot of love to Sean Westgate, who is expected to be a major leader of the defense. I am very intrigued by Kendricks. Along with Pat Larimore, perhaps the best size out there, and he could push for big playing time.
* The UCLA offensive line, patchwork once more, is struggling with Jeff Baca and Sean Sheller down. The maturation of Connor Bradford – who I wrote about today – and Stan Hasiak is paramount for this team.
* To end on a good note – so you don’t kill me, even if this flu does – Kevin Prince saw a decent amount of action in 7-on-7s, and boy does the ball look good coming out of his hand.