UCLA spring camp notes: Bruins run shortest practice of the month

– UCLA ran its shortest practice of spring camp today, a 90-minute session without pads. The quarterback rotation continued with Jerry Neuheisel taking first-team reps in 11-on-11 and Asiantii Woulard taking the second team. Walk-on Jake Hall actually got a lot of seven-on-seven reps too, so it really doesn’t appear as if the Bruins are looking to cut down their list of starting candidates.

– The best play of the day went to linebacker Kenny Young, who broke through the line to tip Jerry Neuheisel’s pass, then snatched it for a pick six.

– Simon Goines returned to start at right tackle for team reps today after taking a bit of a break on Wednesday. UCLA did deploy a new look on its second-string offensive line. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Four quarterbacks share first-team reps

– UCLA broke away from the way its two-by-two quarterback rotation for the first time this spring, but it still didn’t technically eliminate anyone from the race. Instead, Jerry Neuheisel, Josh Rosen, Asiantii Woulard and Mike Fafaul each got a turn running the first-team offense in 11-on-11 scrimmages.

No one in the group really had a bad day, but again, Rosen stood out. His feel in the pocket has been excellent through spring, and he looks particularly impressive rolling out to his right and throwing downfield. On one such play, he connected with running back Roosevelt Davis about 30 yards down the sideline. He also made a great throw to Thomas Duarte, squeezing the ball through a tight window on a play in which the receiver didn’t really look open until he actually made the catch.

The timing of some of the plays counted for something too. Rosen was able to get the offense out of third-and-long on his first series, after the offensive line backed him up with back-to-back false starts. There was a healthy crowd out watching from parking lot 8 today, and broke into applause more than once.

Woulard was the runner-up in the competition today, putting in arguably his best showing as a Bruin. He had a long touchdown to Aaron Sharp, and seems to have also developed good chemistry with redshirt freshman Jordan Lasley. Continue reading

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UCLA spring camp notes: Kene Orjioke gets medical waiver

– Kene Orjioke will be limited to sideline work for the rest of spring as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered in October, but UCLA head coach Jim Mora said he was sure that the outside linebacker will be ready for fall. Orjioke had to have an additional operation to have scar tissue scoped out, but appears to be back on schedule in his rehab.

He received a hardship waiver after playing only four games last season, so he’ll be a redshirt junior this fall. The same goes for defensive backs Ishmael Adams and Randall Goforth, who got waivers for the 2012 and 2014 seasons, respectively.

NaJee Toran, who started one game as an offensive guard last season, also received a waiver. He will be a redshirt freshman after switching to defensive line.

– Thursday’s practice was walk-on Mike Fafaul’s turn to run with the first-team offense, and he actually looked more effective than Jerry Neuheisel did on Wednesday. His best throw was probably one to Alex Van Dyke, who jumped up to grab the ball over Ishmael Adams. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Noel Mazzone talks about UCLA’s quarterback competition

UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone talks about the Bruins’ quarterback competition after practice this morning, and his impressions of true freshman Josh Rosen. Mazzone didn’t give any timeline on when he wants to name a starter, but said he could trim the list down to two or three by the end of spring camp.

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UCLA spring camp notes: Nate Starks looks like No. 2 tailback

– One of UCLA’s biggest questions in the past two offseasons surrounded the running back position, which lost all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin after 2012.

Paul Perkins answered that in a big way as a redshirt sophomore, becoming the Pac-12′s leading rusher with 1,575 yards (121.15 per game). His presence, as well as that of an entirely intact offensive line, will certainly make it easier for whichever quarterback ends up replacing Brett Hundley this upcoming season.

But who’s looming behind him? After UCLA’s first spring practice in pads, Nate Starks looks like the clear-cut No. 2 running back. As a true freshman in 2014, the Colorado native was fourth on the team with 141 yards — behind Perkins, Hundley and senior Jordon James. He’s picked up where he left off and appears to be the team’s second-best runner now.

While head coach Jim Mora agreed that Starks currently has the inside track on the backup role, he insisted there is still “great competition there.” One player he said has “flashed” through three practices is Craig Lee, a speedy four-star recruit in 2013 who has yet to play a down for the Bruins. Continue reading

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