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April 20, 2012
Notes: QB competition to heat up on Saturday
The UCLA quarterbacks didn't have their best day of practice on Thursday. There were multiple interceptions, several wobbly throws and not a whole lot of chains moving out on Spaulding Field during the Bruins' eighth day of spring practice.
But once the workout ended , there weren't a whole lot of quarterbacks reflecting on the day - and probably for good reason.
After all, their biggest day of practice was less than 48 hours away, with the Bruins first live scrimmage set for 1 p.m. PT on Saturday.
"Coaches will be able to see how we react as quarterbacks in terms of conducting the offense, getting everybody lined up, getting the right plays in, making checks, do whatever we have to do," senior quarterback Kevin Prince said of Saturday's scrimmage. "So whenever you get in a scrimmage situation like that, they get to see how you'd play in an actual game."
Spring ball this month, for the most part, has been a lot of installation, and a lot of two steps forward, one step back for the quarterback position. As offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone put it, it's been like a wave, going up and down throughout these past few weeks.
But UCLA will strap up the helmets on Saturday and create some competition, and Mazzone said he should be able to get a good look at his QBs for really the first time all spring.
"I think now we start competing," Mazzone said. "They know enough of the offense now that they should start competing with each other - who could move the football and who could move the offense."
Saturday's scrimmage won't be the typical 100-play, offense vs. defense brawl that most spring scrimmages are, mainly because head coach Jim Mora said the Bruins are just too thin right now with more than 20 players out with injuries.
Instead, the scrimmage will be more live, situational type drills that include "pressure-type situations," Mora said.
"I just want to see who reacts and who can make a play," UCLA's head coach said.
Neither Prince nor senior quarterback Richard Brehaut knows how the rotation will work on Saturday, and Mazzone isn't revealing anything either.
All they're trying to do is perform as well as they can to earn the starting spot.
"I'm expecting to put drives together and score touchdowns," Brehaut said.
Asked how his offensive line looked on Thursday, Mazzone responded succinctly:
"Today, the front seven kicked our (butt)," he said.
The UCLA O-line has bested the Bruins defense at times this spring, mainly on running plays, but when the blitz comes, the O-line struggles. And on Thursday, that was very evident.
But neither Mazzone nor Mora is pushing the panic button yet. Several key O-linemen are out with injury (Wade Yandall, Chris Ward) and Bruins star left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo is still trying to get his game back after returning from a two-year mission.
"It's fricken spring," Mazzone said. "We have a long ways to wait."
Mora announced on Thursday defensive back Librado Barocio has a torn ACL and will likely miss the rest of the season. He also said Yandall has been experiencing a stiff neck, which could be related to his concussion issues, so they held him out of practice as well. Defensive back Brandon Sermons, who practiced on Tuesday with a cast on his hand, was also out Thursday.
The only player who returned to practice was Jerry Johnson (quad).
For the first time this spring, there were no notable recruits in attendance at spring practice. ... UCLA worked on situational football once again on Thursday, using different down and distance settings and clock management situations to help players grow.