* UCLA’s energy seemed a little down on Saturday afternoon, even after starting with a spirited head’s-up session that featured some slam from Malcolm Jones and some swerve from Jordon James. The thudding wasn’t too vicious, there was a little sloppiness, and the play just wasn’t sharp. The coaching staff got a little salty, and clearly, someone needed to rise to the occasion.
Enter Jerry Johnson.
The little-used, oft-injured, much-maligned, almost-forgotten redshirt senior wide receiver reintroduced himself to the UCLA faithful by climbing an imaginary ladder again and again and again.
During one-on-one drills with defensive backs into the end zone facing the crowd, Johnson brought the fans to their feet by getting his off the ground. On one pass to the corner, Johnson jumped what “felt like 20 feet” and snagged the pass with one hand, corralling it in for one of his many touchdowns in the drill.
New wide receivers coach Eric Yarber had some nice things to say about him, and I’ll post that interview shortly.
* With Devin Lucien coming along nicely and Shaq Evans a force when focused – he had some inconsistency issues Saturday – and Ricky Marvray, Darius Bell and Joseph Fauria in the fold, the Bruins are further along at receiver than previously thought.
* Six practices in, there doesn’t appear to have been much separation in the quarterback competition. Saturday, though, was a step forward for the group, as there was a general uptick in accuracy. Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley stood out, as did Jerry Neuheisel, who’s having a really nice spring.
* The UCLA offensive line continues to have issues as guys work back into form, but it got a big boost with return of Wade Yandall today. Yandall has done some work in red jersey but returned to practice in full for the first time since late last season after suffering his fourth concussion in two years. Too soon to tell how he’ll acclimate himself into the order of things, but he did get some reps with the first-team offense.
* His return didn’t help much at the center position, as there were multiple muffs by Jake Brendel and Tre Hale as Greg Capella remains out. Definitely a cause for concern at the moment for the coaching staff.
* Malcolm Jones had another good practice, particularly in the opening head’s-up drill, when he absolutely smashed a defender (whose number I didn’t catch). James, meanwhile, juked his man on two separate “winning” runs.
* Joseph Fauria (hamstring), Greg Capella (calf), Johnathan Franklin (knee), Andrew Abbott (knee), Ricky Marvray (back), Darius Bell (quad), Jerry Rice (shoulder) and John Young missed practice.