» UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked after UCLA’s final spring practice on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, and immediately quashed the biggest question of the Bruins’ offseason: Who will be the new starting quarterback?
“I don’t think we’re any closer to a decision than we were when we started spring,” he said, with more or less a straight face. And he isn’t planning to name one until the season-opening kickoff against Virginia on Sept. 5.
Regardless of what happened through four weeks of spring practice, the coaching staff has consistently insisted that no hierarchy has emerged among the four candidates vying to be Brett Hundley’s successor. On Saturday at the Rose Bowl, all four got 11-on-11 reps. Jerry Neuheisel and Josh Rosen ran with the first-string, while Asiantii Woulard and Mike Fafaul got their chances with the second string.
Rosen subbed in for 11-on-11s more than an hour into practice, and completed his first five passes. His sixth was a nice-looking 35-yard pass to Logan Sweet, but cornerback Marcus Rios reached over and tipped it away at the last second. He eventually finished 13 of 17 with two touchdowns and an interception on the day, with the pick going to Johnny Johnson.
As has been the case at times this spring, Rosen didn’t look as sharp during seven-on-sevens. He missed a couple of back-to-back swing passes to Paul Perkins, one thrown slightly too far ahead and the other thrown too low.
» Instead of running a real, live scrimmage like it did last spring at the StubHub Center, UCLA opted for what was essentially a regular practice. When Mora announced that decision to the team on Monday, not everyone was excited.
The coach specifically warned linebackers Myles Jack and Kenny Young not to hit anyone.
“I was definitely upset when I heard,” Jack said on Saturday. “I was mad. I’ll go ahead and say that. I would rather have a game. … I want it to be live the whole time.”
“Yeah, I was mad too!” Young said. “I wanted to go live and hit some people, man. We didn’t give the fans nothin’ to see.”
Mora said having a practice instead allowed the team to host recruits on the field. The focus of the day was also geared more toward the offense, with the defense not bringing anything in the form of extra pressure.
» Running back Craig Lee and receivers Jordan Lasley and Aaron Sharp were the only players who worked as kick returners on Saturday — which probably isn’t the best indication of what will actually happen when the season starts.
Cornerback Ishmael Adams will certainly reprise his role after emerging as one of the conference’s most dangerous special team players. And then there’s Jack, who tried returning kicks for three straight practices this spring, after a suggestion by assistant running backs coach DeShaun Foster.
As for whether or not Jack does so against a real opponent, that’s still undecided. “If it’s up to me, I’ll be back there,” he said.
» Sharp had a lot of drops today, but Mora was optimistic overall about his transition from quarterback. The coach added that Sharp, who has practiced mostly as an inside receiver, could have a chance to play outside at some point as well.
Senior Devin Fuller, who was second on the team in receptions last season, might be the most interesting receiver to watch when fall camp starts. After being used in the slot his whole pass-catching career, he has started practicing more outside.
“It’s demanded him to work more on his escape at the line of scrimmage,” Mora said. “Getting off the bump and run. Adding that versatility and being able to go outside will help him.”
» The Bruins came out of spring relatively healthy, and Mora said the team has learned how to practice more effectively since he’s arrived. He also said that he was more aggressive with how he ran practices during his first spring.
Besides offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry, who didn’t dress for spring camp at all as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, Mora expects every rotation player to be fully ready for preseason camp in San Bernardino.
» UCLA’s official attendance at the “Spring Showcase” was 8,738.