There weren’t any great, ground-breaking developments at Friday night’s practice, but it certainly was an entertaining one.
The team was in full pads, and went for a full session. There were very few live periods, mostly thud and even no-hit team periods.
The status of any of the injured we mentioned this morning didn’t change tonight, but generally the program was in good spirits about the projected recovery time of many of the guys who are out. Devin Lucien was seen walking the sideline, saying hello to fans and looking very healthy. He reiterated that he expects to return to practice Monday.
That overall spirit seemed to spill over onto the field, with a good amount of energy from the players, and generally good moods from the coaches, including Jim Mora.
It might be that the team is starting to take shape, and some players have stepped up, especially some that were competing for the open starting positions.
It could also be, too, that Mora and his offensive coaches are starting to sense that they’re pretty deep at running back. The RBs definitely were the stars of Friday night, looking fresh, explosive and tough. It might have been the best showing for Jordon James in fall camp, even though he’s been looking good lately. Tonight he showed some considerable quickness and elusiveness when he got into the second stage of the defense. It does appear, too, that James is still penciled in as the starter, since every time the 1s step up for a walk-through or a team drill, James is there. Paul Perkins had a good night, too, juking a few would-be tacklers in the open field and perhaps looking the best in the one-on-ones against the linebackers. Perhaps running third was Adarius Pickett, who had some truly superior moments, in both the one-on-ones and in team drills. He’s a guy that generally doesn’t go down when first hit, and then showed some elusiveness in the one-on-ones. He exploded through a hole for a five-yard touchdown and looked like a big-time tailback doing it – and got high-fives all-around from players and coaches. It's looking highly likely he plays this fall at running back. Steven Manfro had some of his patented slashing runs. Nathan Starks popped through holes a couple of times with some explosiveness we haven’t seen that much of so far in fall camp. Perhaps the guy that struggled a bit tonight was Craig Lee – and it could be he just didn’t get that many opportunities.
Fullback Nate Iese made a couple of nice catches, one that was tough, in considerable traffic.
|Fabian Moreau on Jordan Payton|
It seemed Brett Hundley took less reps, and Jerry Neuheisel had a few more with the first-string offense. He definitely looked better with the 1s than he usually does with the 2s, and orchestrated a few good drives in some of the situational periods. Asiantii Woulard took the majority of the reps with the 2s, and didn’t fare as well. We continue to be impressed with true freshman quarterback Aaron Sharp. He’s still in his shorts, and is only throwing in the non-coverage periods, but his stroke and accuracy look effortless.
Hundley, with getting less reps, didn’t have a great session, compared to how well he’s done so far this fall. He fumbled the exchange on a couple of hand-offs and missed some receivers.
The receivers didn’t have a great night as a group. Perhaps Mossi Johnson flashed the most, with some great catches in traffic. Hundley clearly likes himself some Logan Sweet, looking for him very often. Sweet has stepped into Devin Lucien’s role with the first string, and that also means that he’s drawing Fabian Moreau in the one-on-ones, which is a considerable challenge. Jordan Lasley was completely suited out, and had some good moments and then a couple of drops.
The starting offensive line was the same as it was this morning, with Poasi Moala spelling Conor McDermott at right tackle for probably a third of the practice. Alex Redmond, impressively, had a solid night snapping the ball as the starting stand-in center.
The RB/LB one-on-ones were right in front of the media group, as were the OL/DL one-on-ones, so we got to watch that more than the WR/DB match-ups. That created quite a bit of the entertainment for the night. Perhaps most entertaining was Matt Dickerson ripping the helmet off Kenny Lacy, and Lacy taking a swing at him – and then taking a second swing at Dickerson a minute later. Lacy, though, won their one-on-one battles. Most of the OL/DL one-on-ones were with the younger players, but perhaps the best was between Kenneth Clark and Alex Redmond. You’d probably say Redmond won it, since he contained Clark, but Clark pushed Redmond back five yards. Eli Ankou looked very godd against Ben Wysocki, winning both of their reps, physically moving him enough to get separation and leverage and then out-quicking him. Ankou also easy beat freshman OL Kolton Miller. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner did the same to Poasi Moala, even thought Moala kept him contained once.
The RB/LB one-on-ones were pass rush/pass pro, and then run/contain. James was consistently the best running back in pass pro, as he’s been, and then had some good jukes in the run/contain. Pickett had a couple of good moments in pass pro, but struggled on a couple of reps, and then won a couple of reps in the run/contain. Among the linebackers, of course, Eric Kendricks was near textbook. Kenny Young was stunning a couple of times in blowing up his blocker, and then mixed in tackle/contain. Cameron Judge had a good session, looking good going both directions. Jayon Brown, though, had a poor day, in this drill and on the whole. He was consistently contained in pass pro and beat in run/contain, looking pretty raw and undisciplined.
A good deal of the practice time was spent in situational offense, like two-minute, and special teams – onside kicks, etc. There were also some trick plays, but we, of course, can’t reveal them.
The night was an entertaining one because of a number of great moments besides the ones mentioned:
- Ainuu Taua, being the up-man on kick-off return, fielded a squib and his high school fullback days kicked in and he broke a couple of tackles before getting dragged down by a horde of tacklers. It drew cheers from the high school football team in attendance.
-- Roosevelt Davis made a diving catch in the endzone. Davis is in the rotation in certain packages, and it wouldn’t surprise if he played some this season. Being 5-5 and very quick, he’s a natural match-up problem.
-- Jaleel Wadood got an interception when a Woulard fade was so short it bounced off the head of cornerback Jalen Ortiz.
-- Young had a number of big plays – a great tackle for loss, and then a few reps where he literally man-handled a running back in the one-on-ones. But perhaps his best play was a beautiful break-up on a quick little out, showing some considerable anticipation and speed.
-- On a swing pass to Manfro where he had a step on Myles Jack around the end, Jack matched Manfro’s quickness and ran him down.
-- Ishmael Adams dove to complete a pretty break-up. Knowing he didn’t make the pick, while he was still on the ground, he quickly starting doing push-ups.
-- Johnson made a couple of cuts and left Wadood guarding air, and Defensive Backs Coach Demetric Martin laid into Wadood.
-- Fabian Moreau had the best of Logan Sweet pretty easily tonight, looking like the receiver in one match-up when he actually got the pick.
-- Judge stepped in front of a quick out by Perkins to get the interception.
Kai’imi Fairbairn looked a little shaky tonight kicking field goals than he had previously in camp. He missed a 41-yarder and a 52-yarder, before making his second attempt at 52.
UCLA-committed offensive lineman Tevita Halalilo was in attendance at practice. Kyon Clark, the defensive tackle prospect who is Ken Clark's little brother, also attended.