UCLA football training camp day 16: Tight ends focus on blocking

Caleb Wilson #81 of the UCLA Bruins carries the bal against Kavika Luafatasaga #55 of the Utah Utes during PAC12 college football game at Rose Bowl on October 22, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Caleb Wilson is already one of UCLA’s most consistent pass catchers and now the redshirt sophomore tight end is trying to be one of the team’s most consistent blockers as well.

“I was always confident in the pass game, but in the run game I used to get a little nervous because I was on the lighter end,” Wilson said. “But I’ve gotten stronger and I’ve gotten better with my hands. I’m just trusting my feet.”

More on Wilson’s improvement, as well as the rest of the tight end unit

Video interviews

Notes and observations for Day 15:

  • Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Attire: Full pads
  • Physical was the top word that could be used to describe Friday’s practice. The team went live for one team period and the defense stepped up to the challenge. Adarius Pickett finally had his stand-out day. Juiced up from a one-on-one blocking drill against the wide receivers in which he and Jaleel Wadood dominated, Pickett laid two big hits during the first drive of the live team period. He leveled Bolu Olorunfunmi and then lost his helmet on another crushing tackle on Giovanni Gentosi. Pickett stood out for numerous interceptions during spring practice, but he grabbed attention with another asset of his game Friday. He’s a big hitter and he takes pride in setting a tone for the defense with his physicality.
    • Olorunfunmi was kicked out of practice during the live team period after he got popped by linebacker Kenny Young. Young first bulldozed through a block from Gentosi and dropped Olorunfunmi for a loss. The running back was frustrated about something (it could have been the hit or it could have been the lack of offensive execution on the play that left him out to dry) and was fuming on the sideline. Sunny Odogwu and Nate Starks tried to calm him down, but running backs coach DeShaun Foster instead just kicked Olorunfunmi out.
  • Josh Wariboko-Alali and Devon Modster struggled with getting a handle on the snap for the second straight day. They had two fumbled snaps in as many drives during a team period, and after the second one, Mora kicked them both out of the drill to get things fixed on the sideline. With Matt Lynch and Zach Sweeney in with the No. 2 offense for the time being, Modster and Wariboko-Alali got extra coaching from both Hank Fraley and Jedd Fisch on the sideline.
    • The No. 2 offense struggled for much of the practice. On its first drive of the live team period, the group had two false starts and a fumble. In the second team period, the unit went against the No. 1 offense and Modster threw an bad interception to Wadood when he tried to float a poor pass to Theo Howard.
      • Howard did have a very nice play later, though, when he hung on to a fingertip catch near the sideline with Nate Meadors in coverage.
      • Modster threw touchdowns to Jimmy Jaggers and Eldridge Massington in seven-on-seven, though.
  • The defense, fittingly, won the red zone lockout competition and earned the right to run for the second straight day. The offense scored one touchdown and two field goals on the combined five drives.
    • The win came down to a fourth-and-goal from the 1 for the No. 2 offense and the defense stuffed Jalen Starks at the goal line. Couldn’t see who was at the bottom of the mass of bodies, but it was a clutch stop for the No. 2 defensive line after the running back had scored a similar touchdown on third-down during a previous drive (the offense’s only touchdown in the period).
    • Meadors made a key play in the first drive against the No. 1 offense. He broke up a pass in the end zone against Darren Andrews. It looked like a pass that Rosen and Andrews usually complete, but Meadors got the stop on second down. J.J. Molson eventually missed the 39-yard field goal wide right.
      • A sack from Jaelan Phillips on third down on the No. 1 offense’s second drive forced Rosen and Co. to settle for another field goal. Phillips beat Kolton Miller on the play. Young also got a nice pass breakup against Caleb Wilson on second down. Molson connected on a 35-yard attempt.
    • Lynch led the No. 3 offense. He got a key fourth-down conversion with a quarterback sneak, but had to settle for the field goal after Brandon Burton came up with a sack on second down and Lynch was forced to scramble on third down. As Molson was preparing to kick a 33-yard field goal, someone from the defensive sideline shouted “Canada sucks!” in an effort to distract the Canadian kicker, but Molson was good on the try.
  • Jordan Lasley had what I can only describe as a weird day. He seemed to have an early case of the drops, even in individual drills against air. When he worked on one-on-one blocking against the defensive backs, Wadood demolished him on one play, which had him fuming and yelling at the defensive backs. Lasley seemed to patch things up, though, as he calmed down and hugged each of the defensive backs individually. A little later, he and walk-on receiver Brad Sochowski exchanged some heated words and Lasley then didn’t appear in any team reps for the rest of the day.
  • Darnay Holmes was in serious lockdown mode all day. It seemed like he didn’t give up a single reception in any drill. He had two interceptions in one-on-ones, including one when he pretty much ran Howard’s route for him. He added a tackle for loss on fourth down in a team period when Soso Jamabo took a pitch and tried a jet sweep, but Holmes chased the running back down and caught him behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Jay Shaw also shined in one-on-ones against the receivers. The freshman had an interception against Audie Omotosho and a pass breakup against Omotosho on a jump ball.
  • Mo Osling III got a few reps with the No. 2 defense toward the end of practice. He had one pass breakup against Massington.
  • Nate Starks had a few good runs, including a patient 40-yarder that went for a touchdown.
  • A good day for both punters. Stefan Flintoft had punts of about 51 and 55 yards and Austin Kent had 54- and 52-yard punts.
  • Molson was 2 for 3 during the team period and had a long-range score team period at the very end of practice. I think the deal was that as soon as he hit a 53-yarder, practice was over. It took him three tries. He was short on the first, wide left on the second and true on the third.
  • Injury notes
    • After being in a yellow, no contact jersey Thursday, tight end Austin Roberts was not seen on the field Friday.
    • Offensive lineman Zach Bateman (foot) seems to be making some progress. He was seen on the bike briefly Thursday, then during Friday’s practice, he was doing individual conditioning, including jogging.
    • Stephen Johnson III got hurt some time around one-on-ones and had to spend the rest of practice on the stationary bikes.