Jim Mora, UCLA’s football coach, isn’t much for labels. The Bruins opened spring practice Tuesday with an offense that doesn’t have a name.
Asked whether it should be referred to as a spread attack, a West Coast offense or pro style, he was no help.
“I don’t use those types of terms,” Mora said.
What’s clear is that whatever it’s called is designed to feature quarterback Josh Rosen, a freshman All-American last season when he completed 292 passes, 23 for touchdowns.
“A lot of the things we are trying to do are to accentuate what he does well,” Mora said.
Rosen, who is listed at 6 feet 4 and 210 pounds, will play more under center, utilize a drop step, and will have the ability to make decisions at the line of scrimmage.
“It’s different because your footwork has to change,” Mora said.
Sometimes the offense will huddle. Other times it will run up-tempo, out of the shotgun.
What’s new to UCLA are concepts Rosen has learned before. He said they already feel natural.
“Every quarterback coach from the evolution of football, even from Pop Warner, has been under center. So even last year, when we were in the shotgun, all of our warmups and stuff were under center,” Rosen said. “There are a few different procedural things, like signals, and we’re huddling. So I’m trying to get the procedural things right.”
Rosen completed several deep passes during the workout. He said cutting down on the 11 passes he had intercepted last season would be a focus.
Overstocked at cornerback, UCLA has switched fifth-year senior Ishmael Adams to receiver.
“We thought we’d take this spring and let him work on that side of the ball and see if that can’t be a spot where he helps us a lot,” said Mora, leaving open the possibility that Adams could return to defense.
Three top receivers departed after last season. Jordan Payton and Devin Fuller exhausted their eligibility and Thomas Duarte made himself available for the NFL draft.
Adams, 5-8 and 180, started at cornerback as a second- and third-year player. Last season, he intercepted two passes, returning one 96 yards for a touchdown, in eight starts.
“When he has the ball in his hands he can do some dynamic stuff,” Mora said.
Adams’ experience as a defensive back makes him a different type of target, Rosen said.
“He goes up and gets the ball. … On defense, you have to catch the ball from all kinds of different positions and angles, so I think that’s what he brings to offense, because when the ball is in the air, whether it is above, behind or below him, he’s going to get the ball,” Rosen said.
The defense will use four down linemen more often in Tom Bradley’s second year as defensive coordinator.
“We ran 50% of our snaps last year in a four down, so like always you are trying to put your players into position to have success,” Mora said.
Starting linemen Eli Ankou, a fifth-year senior, and Takkarist McKinley, a senior, return, but Kenny Clark departed for the NFL draft with eligibility remaining.
“I think that we are shuffling personnel around a little bit, trying to see where everyone works out best,” Ankou said.
Fourth-year junior Eddie Vanderdoes and juniors Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson also return and have starting experience. Vanderdoes is not expected to participate in drills as he recovers from a knee injury.
Vanderdoes, offensive lineman Tevita Halalilo, receiver Mossi Johnson, and defensive backs Fabian Moreau and John Johnson did not participate in drills because of injury rehabilitation. … Nine players from the 2016 recruiting class have enrolled: Quarterback Matt Lynch, receivers Theo Howard and Demetric Felton, defensive lineman Nick Terry, linebackers Breland Brandt, Lokeni Toailoa and Mique Juarez, defensive back Leni Toailoa and kicker J.J. Molson. … Former scholarship player Cordell Broadus, who left the team before last season, returned as a walk-on receiver. He is the son of rapper and actor Snoop Dogg. … The spring showcase is scheduled for April 23 at Drake Stadium.
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