The Bruins will return to the practice field for some final drives on Thursday and Friday, but Wednesday marked their final practice in front of the media before Saturday’s game against the Falcons.
As a result, it was one of his last chances to get the early-season jitters out of his system.
UCLA football held another standard practice Wednesday morning at Wasserman Football Center, starting with field goals on the south field before switching to the north field for kickoff work. The high-speed kickoff drill featured a big mistake that put coach Chip Kelly offside and changed the mood on the field for the rest of the opening period.
UCF transfer receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, who is in line to be a top five receiving target for the Bruins this fall, was returning a kick after running back Keegan Jones and receiver Kazmeir Allen had already managed your repetitions.
Mokiao-Atimalala sliced down the middle, then was completely knocked down with a crushing blow from an unknown scouting team defender. None of the other returns had been tackled, let alone with such force, as the team was only working on projectiles during the day.
After spending a few seconds on the ground, Mokiao-Atimala managed to get up and trot off the field. Kelly yelled angrily from the end zone, but it was hard to understand exactly what he was saying.
Kelly spent a few minutes talking to defensive back Joshua Swift after the period ended, but it wasn’t clear if that was related to the hit at Mokiao-Atimala or something else.
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Mokiao-Atimalala spent the rest of the time under the uprights with his helmet on, still visibly shaken from the blow. The wide receiver was able to rejoin individual drills, so he could still be in good shape before Saturday’s game.
Other than that moment, there wasn’t much else out of the ordinary on Wednesday.
Inside linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. continued to be energetic and loud with his unit at drills, even joking with defensive backs coach Brian Norwood about taking up too much space on the field when linebackers moved into the end zone.
John Humphrey was finally with the second-tier defensive backs, as anticipated, and was included in the two safeties released Monday. Humphrey had been running with the 4 for a long time in fall camp, even though he had been announced as one of the top three on the list.
There were no visible players in the weight room or injury area, and no one dealing with short-term bumps or bruises. Linebacker Ale Kaho, offensive lineman Liam Douglass, linebacker Joquarri Price and receiver Ezavier Staples all remained out with their long-term injuries, but the injury report essentially stopped there.
Kelly confirmed before practice that freshman tight ends Jack Pedersen and Carsen Ryan had moved to running backs, as their new No. 20 and No. 28 jerseys would indicate. However, even though they were listed on the listed as running backs, they continued to work out with the tight ends and fill tight end roles on special teams Wednesday morning.
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