The UCLA Bruins kicked off their 2013 spring game on Saturday at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, looking to build on a 9-5 campaign in 2012.
In attendance were former defensive end Datone Jones and running back Johnathan Franklin, who were picked by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL draft.
This wasn't your typical spring game. The Bruins went through individual and team workouts, "Pride Alley" (the Oklahoma Drill), a seven-on-seven battle between the offense and defense, a red-zone drill and a live scrimmage.
After going through individual drills and "Pride Alley," the Bruins executed an 11-on-11 "thud" drill. The team goes full speed in the thud drill, but there is no tackling.
Bruins fans will be happy to know that UCLA's secondary, which drew concern this offseason, played very well Saturday...at least early on. The coverage was solid and the secondary appeared to be in the zone in the beginning.
Lisa Horne of Bleacher Report tweeted:
So far, UCLA's secondary looks REALLY good in drills. Tight coverage, excellent instincts. This was a concern over the spring.— Lisa Horne (@LisaHorne) April 28, 2013
UCLA conducted a red-zone session on Saturday, testing the defense five yards from the end zone. Quarterback Brett Hundley was used frequently on quarterback draws and zone-read options. Former 5-star recruit and walk-on Malcolm Jones showed some talent (and size) on a five-yard run. Sophomore quarterback Jerry Neuheisel came in to take some reps, but he had trouble with his accuracy.
After a short intermission, the Bruins conducted a 60-play scrimmage.
Perkins scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a 25-yard swing pass from Hundley, displaying the potential that has many thinking big things are in store for him.
Not to be outdone, backfield mate Jordon James scored next on a six-yard draw play. James got off to an electric start, exploding for a 50-yard reception earlier in the drive.
The work of Perkins and James was encouraging for the offense, but it did display some holes in UCLA's defense.
Lisa Horne of Bleacher Report tweeted:
UCLA's D looks good against the interior run but containment on the edge needs improvement-- swing passes are killing the defense.— Lisa Horne (@LisaHorne) April 28, 2013
After the second score of the day, punter Justin Moreno had an awful punt, kicking the ball out of bounds.
Jack Wang of the Los Angeles News Group was not impressed, calling for 2013 recruit Sean Covington's number:
UCLA can't wait until Sean Covington arrives. Justin Moreno just sent a punt out of bounds. Got 21 yards with the roll.— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) April 28, 2013
After Neuheisel had taken some reps with the second-string offense, sophomore quarterback T.J. Millweard took over. He showed eye-opening command of the offense and used his big arm to make some big plays.
Millweard connected with receiver Kenny Walker on a 20-yard touchdown, as Walker used his speed to turn the corner and burn the defense on a crossing pattern. At that point, the offense was "leading" the defense, 21-7.
Redshirt senior linebacker Stan McKay had one of the few big plays for the defense, notching an interception after the Walker touchdown.
Right after that, however, Hundley zipped a bullet to sophomore receiver Devin Fuller for a 25-yard touchdown. Fuller was able to create significant separation on the play. Fuller caught 21 balls for 150 yards and two touchdowns last season as a freshman.
Through the first half of the scrimmage, Hundley was 9-of-13 for 121 yards and a touchdown. Fuller had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Hundley's arm strength looks better. Fuller showed great explosiveness tearing apart an inexperienced secondary. James was a dangerous player running and catching the football.
Highlights (Courtesy of Pac-12.com)
Brett Hundley made a nice throw early on.
Paul Perkins scored on a swing pass.
Here is Kenny Walker's touchdown.
Stan McKay made a big-time defensive play with the interception.