While the UCLA defense is rolling into its third year under coordinator Tom Bradley, the offense is just getting out of the gates with Jedd Fisch. When a reporter asked Fisch about battling Bradley’s defense on a daily basis, the first-year offensive coordinator couldn’t help but smile a little bit.
“Every day is a battle,” Fisch said. “It really makes it fun to scrap and claw and go against really, really good corners and really, really good defensive linemen and you really know you’re going against a really good Pac-12 defense.
Through heated practice rivalries and a unique reward system, UCLA is celebrating competition as training camp carries on, hoping that the entire team is better for it come Sept. 3.
Notes and observations from the day:
- Time: 3 hours
- Attire: Full pads
- Going to start with injury notes today. The knocks are starting to pile up for the offensive line a little bit. Najee Toran missed his second straight practice with back tightness. He rode the stationary bike all day. Sunny Odogwu didn’t take any live reps again, which is a precaution due to the right-tackle’s age (24) and injury history. Poasi Moala, the No. 2 right tackle, went down with a lower leg injury toward the end of practice and was seen walking out of Wasserman Center in a walking boot. Depth was already a concern for the offensive line, so while Moala wasn’t a projected starter, he still adds valuable experience.
- First team offensive line with the injuries, from left to right: Kolton Miller, Michael Alves, Scott Quessenberry, Andre James, Kenny Lacy
- Other personnel notes:
- Injured/riding stationary bikes: Audie Omotosho, Nate Starks, Colin Samuel, Breland Brandt
- Not seen: Brandon Stephens
- Josh Rosen had another strong day. His connection with Darren Andrews is as good as ever, but he completed passes to a variety of receivers.
- Christian Pabico, who ran with the first team offense for the third straight day, caught a nice 30-yard touchdown pass from Rosen against Nate Meadors. Rosen helped a lot with a sensational throw. Pabico also had a very impressive catch near the sideline working against Darnay Holmes. The receiver came back to the ball, creating some space from Holmes, caught the ball and made sure he was in bounds with a pin-point toe-tap.
- Caleb Wilson caught a 25-yard pass against Josh Woods during a team period, and caught back-to-back passes from Rosen during seven-on-sevens. The second one was a touchdown that looked like it was going to be picked, but Rosen zipped the ball right over the outstretched arms of two defenders and found Wilson for the touchdown.
- Jordan Lasley, who’s been in and out of practice and back and forth between the first, second and third offenses, made some really nice catches during one-on-ones. He caught a short pass from Devon Modster just short of the end zone, put Mossi Johnson on skates, and then walked in for the touchdown untouched. Lasley surely has the talent and experience to start and star for the Bruins, but the coaches are hoping to see more consistency in terms of his attitude at practice every day.
- Jaelan Phillips got kicked out of practice within the first 20 minutes. The team did an early 11-on-11 period and Phillips got tangled up in something (didn’t have an ideal angle to see what) and quickly got booted from practice by Mora. Mora said Phillips committed an offense that would have gotten him kicked out of a game, so the star freshman had to leave practice too.
- In that first quick team period, Rosen threw a short touchdown pass to Jimmy Jaggers on a bootleg for the first-team offense. The PAT was good, despite a delay of game that moved it back. The second team offense was not as successful. Rick Wade did well to shed a block from Moala and yank down Josh Kelley on first down for a tackle for loss on first down. On third down, Osa Odighizuwa and Chigozie Nnoruka pressured Modster, forcing a quick throw to Eldridge Massington, who bobbled the pass while Denzel Fisher almost picked it off. J.J. Molson kicked a field goal from about 39 yards and it was good.
- With Brandt on the stationary bike, Brandon Burton moved into the sam linebacker position with the No. 2 defense. Mique Juarez remained at No. 2 mike with Krys Barnes at No. 2 will. Burton, a converted safety who made the transition in spring, did not look out of place at all with the second defense. He made several good plays, including a tackle for loss on Kelley and a sack on Modster.
- Bolu Olorunfunmi continues to tighten his grip on the starting running back spot. He scored a nice touchdown on a pitch, wiggling out of a would-be tackle for loss from Keisean Lucier-South.
- Olorunfunmi could benefit from some improvement in pass protection, though. Barnes beat him in a one-on-one pass protection drill.
- Odighizuwa feasted for the No. 2 defensive line. The versatile former Oregon state wrestling champ can play either outside or inside and did damage from both positions against a porous No. 2 offensive line during team periods. He also did well in one-on-ones, getting a win against Quessenberry.
- Alves, who was Toran’s replacement as No. 1 left guard, split reps with Odighizuwa in one-on-ones. Alves won the first one, doing well to contain Odighizuwa’s spin move, but lost the second one.
- Ainuu Taua had two dominant reps, bulldozing Moala then putting freshman Stephan Zabie on his backside.
- Freshman Quentin Lake was the No. 2 nickel, moving up to replace Keyon Riley, who manned Samuel’s No. 2 cornerback position opposite Fisher. Lake had a really good start to training camp, fell off a little bit, then perked back up Thursday. He had two near interceptions and a few quarterback pressures.
- Lake was the victim of a devastating stutter-step from Kelley during seven-on-sevens though.
- Mossi Johnson could have had at least four interceptions Thursday, but settled for just one after he had some drops. His pick finally came on the final team period of the day as he picked off Modster during a two-minute drill. He returned it 30 yards for the touchdown.
- Alex Van Dyke struggled with drops as well. He had multiple, maybe around three total.