UCLA spring camp notes: Bruins wrap up last day at Spaulding Field

» For someone who has yet to play a down at UCLA, Asiantii Woulard’s career as a Bruin has seen its share of ups and downs. He committed late to the Bruins in the 2013 cycle, reputed to be a talented athlete but raw passer. Then, he opened eyes during the first week of preseason camp, making himself look like an underrecruited gem. And then, he faded — eventually hitting a wall that kept him from even being a backup last season.

So he deserves some credit for making a bit of noise this spring. Woulard had a rough start to spring camp, a stretch of the quarterback competition that was seized early by the precocious Josh Rosen. But halfway through, he finally broke out — completing what Jim Mora later called the best Woulard had looked in a UCLA jersey. (It’s worth mentioning that, on that day, Rosen still looked the best of the four quarterbacks.)

Since then, the 6-foot-3 quarterback has put together a decent — albeit still uneven — finish to his spring. Thursday’s morning practice was a microcosm of that. During 11-on-11s, Woulard made the best throw of the day by any UCLA passer: a bomb to Kenny Walker on a go route that he placed perfectly beyond cornerback Fabian Moreau. But a few minutes later, Woulard threw into the flat for what would have been a bad pick — had Johnny Johnson not let it bounce off his hands. Overall, however, the former four-star recruit is definitely trending up.

Taking into consideration everything that’s happened this spring, Josh Rosen still looks like the best choice to start at quarterback. Continue reading

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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 fullback Nate Iese talks about offensive role

After turning his lone catch last season into a touchdown, UCLA fullback Nate Iese has become a more dangerous offensive weapon.

He still doesn’t touch the ball often, but whenever the 6-foot-3, 250-pound redshirt sophomore does, it’s usually worth watching. Iese has two games with multiple catches, grabbing a pair of passes in the Bruins’ season opener at Virginia and another pair in their 20-17 win against Texas more than a week ago. His first catch of the season went for 17 yards; his fourth was a three-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.

Iese credited that latter play to how wary the Longhorns defense was of UCLA’s jumbo package — one that lines linebacker Myles Jack as a tailback. Jack only has eight carries for 21 yards this season, but when he does come it, it still sucks defenses in towards the line of scrimmage.

“They bite up on the run so much, the back of the end zone is always left open,” Iese said. “We saw that early on in the game.” Continue reading

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UCLA notes: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone high on UCLA receiver depth

» Despite Devin Lucien being sidelined by a head injury, UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone wasn’t concerned with the state of his receiving corps.

“I don’t look at this like, ‘Hey, these three guys are starters. These three guys are backups,'” he said Wednesday. “I’ve got about six guys out there that are all starters in my eyes. They kind of roll in, do their deal.”

Lucien finished his sophomore season strong, catching for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Bruins’ last five games. Without him lined up at outside, fellow camp standout Eldridge Massington would likely move into the starting lineup.

Junior Logan Sweet, who had three catches last year, also got first-team reps on Wednesday morning. Starting receiver Jordan Payton has practiced mostly at inside receiver the last few days due to other injuries, which helped open up a spot for Sweet.

“He’s really came a long ways from two years ago, when he first got here,” Mazzone said of Sweet. “He really figures into those top four or five guys at the outside for us.”

» Freshman quarterback Aaron Sharp participated in his first full practice after joining the team last night. Given how light the morning session was, however, the lefty didn’t get a chance to show off his arm. Continue reading

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