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UCLA football practice report: Week 2 begins

UCLA started its second week of spring camp on Tuesday with a second day of full pads. The Bruins have two more practices (Thursday and Saturday) before taking a two-week break for finals and spring break.
Here are links to Tuesday’s coverage

Returners and familiarity have the defense feeling confident about a turnaround
Video interviews
Krys Barnes
Elijah Gates

Injury notes
Same yellow, noncontact jersey status: Josh Woods , Kenny Churchwell , William Nimmo , Dymond Lee
New: Offensive lineman Mohamed Khalil  was seen riding the exercise bike in a yellow jersey.
In-practice injury: Defensive lineman Winston Polite appeared to injure his hand during a one-on-one drill going against offensive lineman Ste phen DeFranco . It appeared that Polite may have jammed his finger/hand on DeFranco’s helmet/shoulder pads when trying to fight off the lineman during the drill.
Notes and observations from practice
The most noteworthy development was an expanded role for Demetric Felton , who took a significant number of snaps at running back. Not just motioning through the backfield or getting the handoff in jet sweeps. He actually lining up next to Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running up the middle like a running back. Felton got a few looks in the running game as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but at the time, then-head coach Jim Mora said Felton (listed at 5-foot-9, 184 pounds) was too small to be a full-time running back. He looks somewhat stronger now, appearing to put on some muscle in his legs, which could be good if he intends to take more snaps at running back. His speed in the open field suggests that he would be a prime candidate to play a hybrid running back/receiver role under Chip Kelly , who thrived off fast, athletic players at Oregon. Felton converted a third-and-1 attempt in the final team period by rushing straight up the middle.
It was a windy day at practice so that may have affected some of the passing game, but it appeared that Thompson-Robinson had a few wild throws, especially those thought to be the easiest. When throwing short routes to running backs, several of Thompson-Robinson’s passes sailed high or wide so the running back had to reach for them.
Thompson-Robinson also threw the only interception I saw on the day. It was an easy chance for Elijah Gates , who picked it off and ran it back for a touchdown. It was Gates’ first interception of the spring.
Quentin Lake also got a pass breakup on a Thompson-Robinson pass thrown into coverage during a 7-on-7 drill.
Jay Shaw broke up a pass intended for Theo Howard in the second team period on a slightly underthrown pass from Thompson-Robinson.
Osa Odighizuwa had a good day with a fumble recovery in the first team period and a sack each of the last two team periods.
Many of the defensive players had some good moments of pressure in the backfield. Mo Osling , the backup free safety right now, had a tackle for loss on Martell Irby on a safety blitz. Lokeni Toailoa forced a throw-away from Thompson-Robinson on a play-action pass in the second team period. Even Steven Mason , a massive 6-foot-8 defensive end who hasn’t quite grown into his body yet, had a sack in the first team period.
Austin Burton had another impressive throw to Jaylen Erwin in the first team period. Erwin, I think, has been the most impressive early enrollee for spring practice and he delivered again with a good catch in traffic near the sideline.
In lineman one-on-ones, Christaphany Murray had two straight wins over Otito Ogbonnia , but Martin Andrus got the sophomore offensive lineman with a strong swim move later in the drill.
Michael Alves had some good reps but didn’t appear to string together many consecutive victories. For example, he did well against Mason on one rep, appearing to overpower the junior college transfer who hasn’t played in a game yet. But UCLA’s most experienced offensive linemen then got caught off balance on the very next rep against Mason. Odighizuwa also tallied a win over Alves.
Keisean Lucier-South completely blew right by Alec Anderson in the one rep that I saw Lucier-South take in the drill. Odua Isibor beat Jake Burton on the left side so it was a good day for the two starting outside linebackers.
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Jayce Smalley had two impressive reps against fellow walk-on Lucas Gramlick , first going outside on the offensive lineman then lining it back up and using an inside move to win.
Matt Lynch caught a long touchdown pass in the first 7-on-7 period.
Howard burned Darnay Holmes on a long touchdown pass in the first team period. The team’s top receiver and top corner have had some good battles so far in spring. Howard also had an impressive gain on a misdirection play that fooled half the defense and allowed him to gain roughly 15-20 yards.
Jimmie Dougherty implemented a new, interesting drill in which he had two receivers lined up at a time and two tackling dummies, spaced about 2 yards apart. The receivers circled around the outside of the tackling dummies, meeting in the middle, where they would compete for a pass thrown by Jerry Neuheisel. I was impressed with Kyle Philips’ performance in the drill as he almost always got the ball, using his speed to quickly get around the tackling dummy and get in position for the pass.

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