* Morphing UCLA from a team forged by rainbows and puppies to one built by steel and grit is not going to be an overnight resolution. The Bruins found that out on Saturday morning in their first day in full pads. Beaten down by a brutal and unrelenting sun, the players struggled to maintain the high level of energy that highligted the first two days of spring practice. Midway through the morning, though, Jim Mora corralled his team for a thorough pep talk, and they responded.
* Tempo was about the same, but the idea of giving 100 percent is really the key issue. What a player might have thought was the absolute most he could give is being challenged by Mora and Co.
* The biggest issue throughout the day it seemed was consistency in the hike exchange. With Greg Capella (calf) out and Jacob Brendel and Tre Hale manning the position, there were a handful of snafus. Mora also explained that the team is using a new ball from Adidas that is taking a little getting used to.
* When the ball was there for the quarterback, it generally turned out well. A nice day of throwing from most of the group, with some particularly good touch from Richard Brehaut and walk-on Mike Fafaul. Fafaul throws a crisp ball.
* Xavier Su’A-Filo had a bit of a wake-up call today, as he was pretty winded and had a little trouble in one-on-one drills. His athleticism, skill and ability is a notch above, but as is to be expected, the conditioning isn’t quite there. He probably needed to feel right with the pads on, and he didn’t. Not an easy transition back to pads for the first time in two years.
* Devin Lucien continues to look like a star in the making, but the wide receiver unit as a whole is coming along nicely. Guys like Jerry Rice Jr. and Jerry Johnson are consistently making the catch and turning up field, and given the drops the team has had top-to-bottom for the last couple years, that’s a big step.
* Starting to really wonder about Dalton Hilliard. He looks absolutely natural at running back. That’s not to say he’ll have 2,000 yards, but in terms of “looking the part” – and that means how he walks, talks, move, blocks, everything – he really does. There were a handful of players we’ve thought were out of position for the last few years, but Hilliard wasn’t one of them. This, to a lot of people, is a surprise. Maybe not to him, because he’s always had a lot of confidence, but it will be an interesting story, that’s for sure.
* Bumps/Bruises: Joseph Fauria (hamstring), Greg Capella (calf), Jordon James (hamstring), Ricky Marvray (back) missed practice.
* Lastly, we’re seeing a bit of a leap for Owamagbe Odighizuwa. One of his biggest issues for two years was his hand placement, as he would too often allow himself to get engaged with the offensive lineman, essentially getting tied up every time. When he had any push last year, it was because of his size and strength, which is most certainly overpowering. But he’s been shedding blocks better so far and there’s been a noticeable difference.