Spring practice day 3: Bruins suit up in pads for first time

Freshman linebacker Mique Juarez took some snaps with the first team defense on Saturday. Photo by Brad Graverson // Daily Breeze

Freshman linebacker Mique Juarez took some snaps with the first team defense on Saturday. Photo by Brad Graverson // Daily Breeze

The Bruins wrapped up the first week of spring practice Saturday with their first practice in full pads.

Watch video of Jim Mora’s press conference here

Read today’s notebook that focuses on the team’s balance of coaching and competition

Notes and observations:

Jim Mora was happy with the team’s ability to practice safely in pads (i.e. minimal tackling to the ground, not going after collisions too aggressively, etc.) while still maintaining physicality and competitiveness.

— False starts continue to be a problem under the new snap counts, and Mora attributed it to “a lack of concentration.” The head coach noted that the problem generally improves as practice goes on, so he would like to see better concentration at the start of the session. Offensive lineman Kenny Lacy was probably the most penalized player on Saturday and spent a large amount of time running laps for false starting.

While the change in snap count has proved difficult to adjust to, Mora expects it to be dividends later because it will allow the offense to catch opposing defenses off guard or get the defense to show their hand.

“With a guy like Josh, who can diagnose defenses the way he can, if he can see the defense before he gets the ball in his hands, he can make the right decision with regards to where to throw it,” Mora said.

Josh Rosen dropped some dimes during one-on-ones, including a 25-yard pass to Jordan Lasley that dropped perfectly into the receiver’s hands in stride. After the catch, Lasley ran back to the line yelling, “That’s a great ball No. 3! That’s a great ball!”

— Cornerback-turned-receiver Ishmael Adams seems to be enjoying his transition to offense. He was quick with the trash talk during one-on-ones (especially when he caught the ball). Mora said Adams has shown an ability to make plays in space with the ball, which is obviously a good sign for his future at receiver.

— Although the running backs did standout (read about them in a notebook), the defensive line made some good plays to stop the run as well. Defensive linemen Nick Terry and Keisean Lucier-South made back-to-back tackles for loss in the first scrimmage period, dropping running back Bolu Olorunfunmi both times.

In general, Terry continued a great first week of spring camp. Mora was impressed with the junior college transfer, especially highlighting his great swim move.

— Mora tabbed Cameron Griffin as a standout at fullback for the first three practices. The former rugby player has good hands coming out of the backfield, the coach said. You can expect whoever plays the fullback position to catch some passed out of the flat this year.

Austin Roberts earned praise from Mora for his adjustment to the tight end position. Roberts has been everywhere during spring practice, blocking at the line of scrimmage and releasing to catch passes.

“I think Austin will be a real weapon for us,” Mora said. “I think he can do some things on the line of scrimmage, I think he can do some things off the line of scrimmage, blocking at the point of attack.”

— The freshmen are definitely coming along. Quarterback Matt Lynch took some 11-on-11 snaps today after being mostly limited to the seven-on-sevens Thursday. Linebacker Mique Juarez made a cameo with the first-unit linebackers in the latter half of practice. He lined up at an outside linebacker alongside Isaac Savaiinaea and Jayon Brown. Receiver Theo Howard, who made two great catches in as many days to start spring practice, didn’t have any highlight-reel worthy grabs Saturday, but still earned praise from Mora afterward.

— Brown got an interception off Rosen during seven-on-sevens and defensive back Octavius Spencer also grabbed a pick off a tipped pass from Lynch. Defensive back Dylan Luther picked off Matt Fafaul during a scrimmage period.

— Kicker JJ Molson practiced kickoffs for the first time in spring and he can really boot it. All four of his kickoffs went into the end zone.