UCLA football ‘cautiously optimistic’ after spring game

LOS ANGELES >> A splash of Gatorade brought UCLA’s spring practice to a close on Saturday at Drake Stadium.

After the White Team, led by an interception from Adarius Pickett and two touchdown runs from running back Bolu Olorunfunmi, earned 17-10 victory over the Blue Team, the winning squad doused UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, its honorary head coach, with Gatorade. Players signed autographs as fans flooded the field. White Team linebacker Kenny Young explained his plan to cash in on a bet made with Blue Team cornerback Nate Meadors for a dinner at Roscoe’s.

• PHOTOS: UCLA Spring Showcase

The weekend belongs to the White Team, but by Monday morning, it’s back to work: 5:30 a.m. sharp.

With UCLA’s spring campaign officially closed, the next months before summer training camp will be spent in the weight room and on the practice field, but without supervision from coaches. They’re possibly the most important months the Bruins have all offseason.

“This is the summer of improvement,” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “You’ve got to just absolutely find a way to get better at your craft and that’s on their own.”

Saturday’s game meant little in the grand scheme of UCLA’s spring progression, head coach Jim Mora said. The play-calling on both offense and defense was bare bones, lest there be prying eyes from opposing teams tuning into the Pac-12 Networks broadcast. Blue Team quarterback Josh Rosen led an impressive two-minute drive at the end of the first half capped off with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Darren Andrews, but Olorunfunmi’s 46-yard touchdown run on third-and-1 with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the White Team.

Olorunfunmi finished with 88 rushing yards on 14 carries and also scored the game’s first touchdown, on a 2-yard run in the second quarter.

The offense showed promise under Fisch during spring as he’s quickly earned the trust of his players, led by Rosen. Fisch said previously that May, June and July will be the most important for the star quarterback as he digs into the offense in earnest.

Rosen, who was 14-for-18 passing for 83 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Saturday’s game, said he spent the past month trying to get into Fisch’s brain. Rosen wants “be (Fisch’s) head on the field” by the time UCLA opens its season Sept. 3 against Texas A&M at the Rose Bowl.


He’ll start filling Fisch’s shoes this summer as he assumes a leadership position during player-run practices.

“I can take that burden on my shoulders and try to distribute it to my teammates and try to give them coaching points that I know Fisch would have given them,” Rosen said. “It’s my responsibility and Kenny Young’s on defense to try to be the coordinators of the offseason.”

Despite losing playmakers on all levels, the defense dominated spring practice. Pickett’s interception on Rosen, when the…

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