Post-practice update

* If two days are any indication, the attitude of the UCLA football team is changing, from the top on down. There have been more dives, more dust-ups and scrums than I can remember at any spring practice in three years, and it doesn’t appear that the players are getting coaxed into it.

* I’ve documented the coaching youth movement before – the average age of each current coach is eight years young than Rick Neuheisel’s first staff – but it’s really been on display the last two days at Spaulding. Defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin looks like he’s ready to join the drills. Eric Yarber will need to invest in 6,000 tooth picks over the course of the season as they keep flying out of his mouth as he sprints onto the field. Jeff Ulbrich is about to lay someone out. The players are loving it.

* As far as individual performances on Thursday…

* Dalton Hilliard continues to impress at running back. Good moves, strong runner. Have to wonder how he would’ve fit in the last three years. Need to see how he handles constant contact in pads & pad level.

* RB coach Steve Broussard on Hilliard: “I saw him in high school and recruited him – not very hard because he committed here soon after we offered him – but you go back and say, I’ve seen him at running back but he’s been away from it for a long time. It’s just a matter of him getting reps, him feeling comfortable. He looks like he’s never lost a step.”

* Ricky Marvray drew praise from Jim Mora after deciding to return to practice after hurting his back. Mora lauded his toughness, but he also made a couple highlight plays, as well. He’s someone who could thrive in open space – very shifty – and he’s got good balance when he isn’t going too fast for his own good.

* Broussard on Steven Manfro, who is getting a good look at running back: “It’s kind of early, but he’s got the want-to, has good ball skills, good vision, acceleration, speed. He’s definitely a guy who is intriguing to us. He’s picking up the offense. Definitely he’s a guy who you can look at and say, “He can be used.”

* Brandon Willis is getting plenty of opportunities to make up for two years of obscurity, and he’s making the most of it. He has great hand placement but too often gets caught up in the muck. In pads, he should be better served as he can take advantage of his quickness in the interior.

* DT Donovan Carter had a couple good rushes right up the gut, and he definitely figures as a high-rep guy. Very good motor on him, and he’s leaned out a little bit after bulking up so much following the move to defensive tackle.

* Speaking of crash diets, Darius Bell has to be the surprise of the first two days. From a complete afterthought at quarterback to a guy who has really shone at wideout. He told me after practice he’s lost 27 pounds in the course of a year, and it’s showing. He has really good balance and physicality – twice he ripped the ball from a defender for the catch. I’ll have a video up of him shortly.

* Injury report: Joseph Fauria tweaked a hamstring, Greg Capella strained his calf, and DT Brandon Tuliapupu hurt his hand.

* UCLA quarterback situation – no movement, but accuracy will ultimately seal the deal for someone. Ball needs to be in the right place, at the right time in this offense.

* UCLA had some major recruits in attendance today, including Hatari Byrd, Tee Sheppard, Nico Falah, Joe Mathis. Lotta buzz out at Spaulding.

* One last great quote from Broussard: “When you come in with a new staff, it’s proving time, so there’s a level of freshness. But at the same time, we’re in pajamas. Everyone looks fast and quick. But we love the energy and we love the competitiveness.”

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  • Anonymous

    Excellent report Jon. Thx.

  • INSANITY

    JON – great, thorough report, except for 1 thing- define “tweaked hamstring”- Fauria’s had hamstring issues in the past, no? We CANNOT have that guy out this season at all.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/ucla Jon Gold

    All Mora would give us on Fauria was “tweaked.”

  • Anon

    No mentioning of Malcom Jones, is he still with the team or basically he’s an afterthought at RB position?

  • Anonymous

    Fauria had groin issues in the past.

  • anonymous

    Larimore looked GREAT out there today!

  • The Fig

    who’s Lotta Buzz, and how come I’ve never heard of him before today?? regardless, glad he made an appearance.

  • ucla ex-dormie

    Fauria’s injury happened right in front of all of us in the end zone bleachers as he was running a deep pattern towards us. He was hip-to-hip with a safety, Stan McKay I think, down the middle and grabbed the leg and hopped just as he was running side by side and struggling for position. He did not collapse and roll to the ground, he just pulled up grimacing. It was McKay who walked him off the field, but oddly, it seemed, from the injured side, not from the other side I would expect.

    Other notes: Malcolm Jones got some angry reps but it is hardest to tell about the RBs until they are all in pads. Sua Filo looked out of shape but holding it down. I saw CBs are playing close up, finally. One OLB usually 43 Holmes rushes the other one not so much. Owa still getting locked up. Marsh and Willis look big. Best QB reps went to 17 Hundley and 12 Brehaut. Lots of live action. Several bad throws into space.

  • Reasonable Bruin

    Thanks Dormie, feel free to chime in each day.
    -RB