Friday, April 9, 2010
Spring practice: Day six
By Blair Angulo
Another intense UCLA football practice broke out at Spaulding Field on Friday afternoon. The Bruins continued the energetic trend as they prepared for their first full-contact scrimmage Sunday. A few notes, sights and sounds from the two-hour session:
Coach Rick Neuheisel was angry and vocal when a pair of offensive lineman threw cut blocks on a sweep run off the edge by sophomore tailback Damien Thigpen. "We're not cutting! We're not cutting! We're not cutting!" Neuheisel yelled.
The first-unit offense dominated the first-unit defense during the red zone portion of practice. After speeding past linebacker Akeem Ayers down the middle of the field, tight end Joseph Fauria caught a perfect pass from Kevin Prince for a touchdown. Fauria proceeded to shake hands with a fan sitting in the front row of the bleachers, which received a few laughs from those in attendance. Prince exposed Ayers again on the very next play, lacing a soft lob to tight end Cory Harkey in the corner for another touchdown. Ayers got redemption later, intercepting a short dump off by Prince and taking it all the way back for an imaginary score.
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Andy Keane will have to have surgery to repair a tendon on a finger, Neuheisel said. "We're going to fix that so it's not a permanent issue," Neuheisel added.
Receiver Josh Smith (PCL) will not need surgery, as Neuheisel initially feared. The transfer from Colorado will still miss the rest of the spring while he rests for the fall.
Offensive lineman Nik Abele continued to suffer from stingers in his neck. Neuheisel said team doctors will reassess his condition Monday. Abele, who redshirted as a freshman last season, began the spring in the lead to land the left tackle spot. "My hope is that we'll be able to figure out exactly what it is, solve it and be able to rumble in the fall," Neuheisel added. "But you can't mess around with that stuff."
Defensive back Dalton Hilliard -- not Andrew Abbott -- took the field when the first unit switched to nickel packages. With Hilliard on the field, strong safety Tony Dye lined up against the slot receiver. Hilliard made his presence felt and put an end to practice with an interception of Prince as the offense drove down the field in the two-minute drill. As Hilliard took off down the sideline with the ball, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough raced him down near the goal line and yelled, "Get down! Get down! The game is over, you don't want to get stripped!"
Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, tight end John Young, safety Dietrich Riley and tailback Jordon James were among the incoming freshmen who attended Friday's practice. Odighizuwa, a Portland, Ore. native, arrived a bit late but was warmly welcomed by Neuheisel, who then proceeded to introduce him to the others. Riley has been a frequent attendee.