Here is the main story for the day about how the running backs and the team in general are sticking together while pursuing big goals.
Notes and observations from today’s practice:
- Shells and shorts again today. Friday’s practice will have full pads, so hold on to your hats for tomorrow.
- The offense is showing a lot of progress from spring. It’s so much better from this time during the spring. I obviously expected it to be better, but I find myself surprised with how efficient it seems to be operating. It’s not perfect. There’s still a ways to go, but practices are cleaner with fewer false starts, players know where to line up and it really does seem like everyone is on the same page. They know what they have to do and they’re now going to focus on trying to execute to make it happen.
- The team had referees on the field for the first time during camp. Mora said the team had 154 competitive plays and only five penalties, but all the penalties were in the red zone.
- At the end of practice, freshman linebacker Lokeni Toailoa got into a brief shoving match with a teammate (didn’t see exactly who) and, if it was a game, would have been ejected, said the referees. It wasn’t a big dust-up, but it presented a teaching moment for Mora as he pulled the entire team together and told they had to remain focused and composed for the entirety of practice if they want to be able to do the same thing for a game. At that time, it was the end of a long practice that was nearly three hours long.
- Mike Fafaul is showing well in training camp. He’s consistently taking the second-string snaps at quarterback and he’s made several nice throws every day. Mora noted how he thought the impressive performances of Matt Lynch and Devon Modster motivated Fafaul and that the redshirt senior looks more settled, comfortable and confident.
- Fabian Moreau picked off Josh Rosen on Rosen’s first drive of the day. Kenny Walker was the intended target on the long throw toward the sideline. The throw looked a little underthrown or perhaps there was a miscommunication on the route. Rosen later threw an interception to Nate Meadors in 7-on-7.
- On his next drive, Rosen worked his magic at the line of scrimmage and pulled the defense offsides in the red zone to get a free first down. Soso Jamabo capped the drive with a touchdown.
- Nate Starks scored a touchdown from about 7 yards out in a red zone situation.
- The defense held strong near the goal line on the next red zone sequence as Moreau had a good pass deflection in the end zone, tipping a would-be touchdown catch away from Jordan Lasley on a Rosen throw. The offense didn’t score on that drive as Tahaan Goodman made the fourth-down stop, breaking up a pass intended for Nate Iese. Jaleel Wadood had a tackle for loss on the drive as well.
- A lot of players took turns returning kicks today: Ishmael Adams, Octavius Spencer, Stephen Johnson III, Lasley, Wadood, Damian Alloway and Walker.
- Austin Roberts caught two touchdowns during the second team period, one from Rosen and the other from Fafaul.
- Rosen also threw a touchdown to Alex Van Dyke in the second team period with a nicely thrown ball to the back shoulder.
- Theo Howard remained on the sideline with a strained hamstring. Fellow receiver Darren Andrews had to leave practice in the middle of the day, but it’s not supposed to be serious. He spent the latter parts of practice on the sideline with strength coach Sal Alosi. Mora said Andrews was dealing with some soreness at the beginning of practice and it got worse, during the session, so going to the sideline was a precautionary measure.
- UCLA had a few visitors from NFL teams. I saw scouts from the Texans, Jets, Broncos and Chargers. I saw another from the Browns on Wednesday.
- J.J. Molson went 3-for-5 on his field goal kicks. He was good from 32, 37 and 42 yards. He missed his second attempt at 42 yards wide left and was wide and short on his attempt from 47. Andrew Strauch was 2-for-5. He was good from 32 and 37. He missed his final three kicks, all from 42 yards.