*The intensity was more evident in Day 2 of fall camp with a good handful of skirmishes throughout practice. Players were jawing at each other almost from the start, and there was even some in-group jawing. It may have been the heat (it was a toasty 98 degrees) or it may be the idea that players are finally settled and ready to get this going.
**We’ll get a better look at where the team stands once shoulder pads come on Monday. We’ll start with the quarterbacks. It’s no surprise that Brett Hundley is the strongest of the group. He compelted touchdown passes to the 6-foot-4 receiver Javon Williams, Tyler Scott and Jerry Rice Jr. By the way, Williams — lanky and all — not only will add depth to what is shaping out to be a good receiving group, but will also bring legitimate height, impactful wingspan and some speed to exploit pockets. Back to Hundley … he looked quite more comfortable and it showed, though to be fair he also threw an interception thanks to constant pressure from Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who recorded the virtual sack. Still, UCLA coach Jim Mora said he’s a lot more accurate than he heard Hundley would be. “I’ve only been watching him since the start of spring (17 practices). He’s just matured, more focused and seems a lot more in control. He has a great grasp of the offense,” Mora said. Jerry Neuheisel has improved considerably since spring camp when he showed promise. His father, Rick, was there to watch as was the rest of the family. Kevin Prince was better but overthrew some receivers in drills. Richard Brehaut needs more consistency with his follow through. Devin Fuller continues to struggle with the pace, accuracy, follow through and release. He’s adamant about playing quarterback and is not resigned to switching to another position. Mora seems to like what he sees in Fuller, who doesn’t figure to be in the mix for a backup spot, much less a starting role. As far as what will make Mora decide on the start quarterback, he said it’s a lot of things and that includes a “feeling.” Mora said, “I think it’ll be some part of a feeling that we get as a staff. That feeling will come from what we see in terms of leadership ability, decision making, how teammates respond to him, the ability to throw with accuracy, timing, velocity, the ability to extend plays and make good decision. It’s not who looks the prettiest but who moves the team down the field and puts points on the board for you.” So, is Mora on the border in terms of making that decision? Mora said, “I woulnd’t say so yet.”
***Offensive tackle Brett Downey was pretty active today in the handful of skirmishes on hand today. First he got into it with Aaron Hester in a mini tussle and then it was with one of his own: Jeff Baca. The two were jawing at each other on their way back to the sideline after a breakdown in communication. Jerry Rice Jr., of all people, told them to chill, and they did. Linemen Will Oliver and Alberto Cid also got into it with the defense. First it was the defense on Saturday getting it started. Now it’s the offensive line. The first day of practice the skirmishes translated as a passionate group. On Sunday, it probably got out of hand, and it’s something that Mora is watching closely, he said, because “I don’t want us to do things that’ll hurt us in games.”
****Scary moment at the end of practice when defensive end Sam Tai went down with a left knee injury and needed help walking to the trainer’s tent. We’ll have an update after Monday’s practice. It turns out that Kenny Walker did suffer a broken pinky on Saturday. It wasn’t sure whether it was fractured or broken. He entered practice with a cast but then finished with just a buddy wrap around it. Cassius Marsh experienced cramps after Saturday’s practice and was held out Sunday. “His body has changed so much,” Mora said. “He’s a 285-pound guy with 12 percent body fat. As you start to adapt (to the environment) sometimes you’ll get those problems.” The same goes for tight end Joseph Fauria who was lightheaded and was in-and-out of drills. Brandon Willis also was held out after it was learned he was dehydrated.
******When Mora gave the team a good 5-minute break (water, rest in the shade) about a dozen or so players walked over to Rick Neuhseisel and gave him a welcome hug.
*******Burst of speed and change in momentum is what the receivers worked when running routes. Jordan Payton, Ahmaad Harris, Zach Hernandez and Jerry Johnson made an impression. Running back Paul Perkins earned high marks from Mora. Corner Justin Combs plays bigger than he looks. He’s a pesky defender that makes it hard to create separation. Taylor Lagace also earned good marks, though the offense didn’t like when he horse-collared during one play.