*The big news from practice today was the return of defensive end Ellis McCarthy. UCLA coach Jim Mora said McCarthy looked good when he returned Wednesday, but none of us on the beat saw him take part in team drills, at least not from our vantage point in the stands. We’ve seen him take part in individual drills, but today was the first time McCarthy really hit the field in 11-on-11s, and he looked good. Scary good. McCarthy is as good as advertised, maybe even better. He is a man among boys, making Owa Odighizuwa and Donovan Carter look small when lining up as the second unit. In his first series, McCarthy and Jeff Baca had a nice matchup that got pretty physical. The defense from the sidelines also was impressed, to say the least. Cassius Marsh and Aaron Hester were among the leaders cheering on McCarthy, who put on some impressive swim and spin moves. He saw a little double-team out there, though that’s nothing new for McCarthy. He also recorded a sack after pummeling two pass blockers during one series. Baca, Brett Downey and Simon Goines were among McCarthy’s fresh meat playing defensive end on the left side. That he’s so effective is a testament to the job that strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi has done with McCarthy working to get him back in shape after undergoing offseason knee surgery. With more conditioning and the quicker he adapts to the college tempo, McCarthy will be a force to be reckoned with. UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure (below) talks about McCarthy’s intangibles.
**Linebacker Aaron Porter (sick) and Javon Williams (undisclosed reason) were not at practice. Ian Taubler left in the middle of practice with a right ankle injury.
***Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich took a few minutes to praise Dalton Hilliard during special team drills. Ulbrich loved Hilliard’s technique, but even more his no-quit attitude. In other special teams news, Eric Kendricks lined up on special teams and returned a punt, but I can’t imagine that’s a serious move they’re considering.
****Randall Goforth made yet another interception at
cornerback safety. He switched to safety from corner. The kid’s a stud, plain and simple. Andrew Abbott also recorded an interception off Brett Hundley, who had a quiet day after a strong start.