UCLA had a solid idea for its starting offensive line, but halfway through training camp, offensive line Hank Fraley made a change. He moved redshirt freshman Michael Alves into the No. 1 unit at right guard, which pushed Andre James to right tackle and put Kenny Lacy and Sunny Odogwu firmly with the second group at left and right tackle, respectively.
Despite some early struggles, Alves has proven to be worth the trouble.
“I’ve been trying my best, do whatever I can to be on the field,” Alves said. “Actually (Fraley) seems pretty impressed with the film. It’s just doing whatever I can to stay on the field.”
Notes and observations for Day 17:
- Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes
- Attire: Full pads
- Big day for the defensive line. During the first team period, which took place immediately after stretch lines, each of the three drives ended with sacks. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner ended the first one, beating Kolton Miller to get to Josh Rosen. Osa Odighizuwa got to Devon Modster on the No. 2 offense’s drive. When the ones went for a second time, Tuioti-Mariner and Jaelan Phillips had back-to-back sacks on second and third down.
- Odighizuwa was a force all day. He got two tackles for loss on Brandon Stephens in one drive with the twos. In another drive, he had three tackles in back-to-back-to-back plays: two tackles on Nate Starks, allowing minimal gain, and then a sack on Modster.
- Nate Meadors was a big winner also. He picked off Rosen twice, both on tipped passes. The first came off a high throw that grazed wide receiver Darren Andrews’ fingertips. Meadors later outdueled wide receiver Alex Van Dyke on a 40-yard pass to the end zone. Meadors leaped to tip the pass away from Van Dyke, who has a 4-inch height advantage, and Meadors held on to the ball while the pair tumbled to the turf. He also had a handful of pass breakups.
- In these last few days of training camp, you get the feeling that emotions are high and everyone is just looking forward to it being done. After Bolu Olorunfunmi got kicked out of practice Friday and Jordan Lasley challenged walk-on Brad Sochowski to a fight, there were a few more scuffles Saturday. Andrews exchanged words with Breland Brandt and the normally stoic receiver returned to the sideline yelling. He had to be calmed down by receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty and Christian Pabico. Rosen and Kenny Lacy also came over to check on Andrews. Jalen Starks and Mique Juarez exchanged some shoves. Martin Andrus and Zach Sweeney also went nose-to-nose (or facemask to facemask). After a failed goal-line play, Sunny Odogwu returned to the sideline screaming about something also, but it looked like he was frustrated at the lack of execution from the No. 2 offense on the play.
- The play of the day was when Ainuu Taua picked off Matt Lynch in a team period and rumbled for a 20-yard pick-six. Brandon Burton got pressure on Lynch, forcing the bad throw.
- Adarius Pickett had a contender for play of the day also as he kept the No. 1 offense scoreless on fourth-and-goal. The offense moved down the field during the simulated two-minute drill, marching from their own 35-yard line to the 3-yard line thanks for many completions between Rosen and Caleb Wilson. On fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 1.4 seconds left, Pickett came up with the drive-winning pass breakup on Wilson.
- The No. 2 offense scored a touchdown on its two-minute drive, thanks to a few critical missteps from the defense. The defense got off to a good start with back-to-back sacks from Odighizuwa and Marcus Moore, but gave up a 20-yard run from Modster on third-and-18. On fourth-and-3, Modster completed a 7-yard pass to Jordan Wilson over Will Lockett. On third-and-10 from the 48, Eldridge Massington got behind freshman Mo Osling III and scored the drive-winning touchdown on the blown coverage.
- While Rosen had a solid day, the backups seemed to struggle overall. It’s been a few days now that Modster and Lynch have struggled to place the throws where they need to go. During Saturday’s one-on-one period, some receivers looked visibly upset when the quarterbacks kept missing throws.
- Theo Howard and Demetric Felton were the standouts for the wide receivers in one-on-ones against the defensive backs. Howard had a spectacular one-handed catch in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown against Quentin Lake. Felton also had a one-handed catch against Octavius Spencer.
- Lynch did throw a nice touchdown to Damian Alloway later in a team period.
- A light day for Pabico. He didn’t see any action during the team periods and Lasley took his place with the ones. Lasley had an up-and-down day. He had several drops, but he also made some nice catches, including a 20-yard gain on a great throw from Rosen to the sideline.
- Josh Woods and Kenny Young also got a bit of a break during team periods. Krys Barnes and Brandt played at will and sam linebacker, respectively, with the No. 1 defense when Woods and Young were out.
- Darnay Holmes was again locking receivers down all over the field. I’m not sure if he’s allowed a single reception in 11-on-11 in the past two days.
- J.J. Molson was 4 for 5 on field goals. The one miss came at the worst time. It was the final play of practice in a simulated “for the win” situation. The offense was down by 1 with 38 seconds and no timeouts at the opponent 45-yard line. Rosen led the group to within field goal range and set up a 45-yard field goal, but Molson missed it wide. It wasn’t particularly close either. He made all four of his score-team period kicks from 28, 35, 35 and 39 yards.
- Injury notes
- Stephen Johnson III was on the stationary bike
- Leni Toailoa and Austin Roberts were not seen on the field