Spaulding Roundup: Starting The (Washington) Week

Let’s start the week with a HT to this week’s obvious storyline:

Neuheisel said on Sunday that he hadn't thought much about the trip back to Seattle but now that it's here, it had crossed his mind.

"I truthfully have not thought about it for a long time," Neuheisel said. "Now that it's here, I am forced to think about it.

"What happened between Washington and myself is water under the bridge. It's come and gone and hopefully both sides learned lessons."

We have discussed this topic enough over here in our UCLA-Washington game page which already features number of posts on CRN’s return to Seattle and the "Hate-a-palooza" that will be hyped up by the traditional media in LA, Seattle and across the country.

Looking back at last Sunday, CRN Was encouraged with the performance of our defense and return team on kickoff coverage:

After watching videotape of UCLA's loss to Oregon State, the ever-optimistic Neuheisel said he was encouraged that his team is still playing hard. He liked the defense and the kickoff coverage.

But offense was another story:

Linemen could not open holes for the running backs. That forced the quarterbacks to throw more often. And that resulted in turnovers.

Starter Kevin Craft had two interceptions and fumbled while scrambling. Reserve Chris Forcier also had a pass intercepted.

"We're too inconsistent to be considered a good team," Neuheisel said.

Well unfortunately CRN doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to QBs. LAT reported this am that BO is still experiencing "pain" in the foot he broke before the season and is "weeks away from being able to play."

As for those who are clamoring for Forcier (which often includes yours truly during the game thread), here was CRN’s blunt assessment to Dohn:

As for the QBs, I asked Rick Neuheisel what is keeping Chris Forcier from getting meaningful snaps, and he bluntly said Forcier doesn't have a firm enough grasp on the offense.

If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, I am getting the sense that both Chow and Neuheisel do not believe Forcier fits in their system. From what I have seen in Chow’s offenses over the years at BYU, NC State, Sothern Cal, and now at UCLA, he wants QBs who will drop back and at least attempt to read defenses before going with the available option. Forcier for all his fault at least seems to make an attempt in dropping back and reading the defenses. I know he is still making the same mistakes he did earlier in the season, but he is making an effort to run the system. While Forcier from what I have seen this last game and in previous times he appeared during mop up duties, does not any time in testing out his speed (which is impressive).

I think what Chow and Neuheisel might be doing is taking the long term view with our offense. Having Craft in there doesn’t necessarily mean that Craft is going to be returning as a starter as next week. It means that it allows our receivers to have opportunities to run their routes and engage in blocking the way the coaches want them to when Craft does make the right reads. I know the offense is incredibly frustrating and agonizing to watch right now (I can only imagine how it drives Chow and Neuheisel batsh!t insane), but I think the constant repetition with Craft who to me appears as a more Chow/Neuehisel systems-QB than Forcier (based on what I have seen from Forcier in his brief appearances and notes from folks whose observations I trust from practices).

I think the experiences our receivers and backs are getting this year playing under Chow’s system will be beneficial when we get a QB like Prince, Brehaut or Crissman, with better physical tools plugged into the system. BTW the QB competition this spring at Spaulding is going to be incredible to watch. I don’t think Chow or Neuheisel would hesitate from increasing Foricer’s reps during practices and during games if they believe Forcier can help them develop the system which they are trying to establish as a foundation for a long term success in Westwood. That’s the best explanation I can come up with re. Craft/Forcier situation, and frankly it’s one that makes sense to me even though I feel like pulling my hair out at times when I am watching our offense this year under Craft.

Anyway, we will end today’s roundup with this positive note re. the attendance of 80,000+ at the Rose Bowl this last weekend. CRN made sure to point out that specific data point in his comments yesterday, indicating the level of interest in a 3-5 UCLA football team despite going through a rough rebuilding season:

"I think everybody needs to realize UCLA football is going to come back. UCLA football is not going to be down forever," Neuheisel said. "We're going to come back. Eighty thousand people came to our game to see a 3-5 team play Oregon State. People want to see UCLA football do well. People are encouraged. People are rooting us on.

"That is absolute evidence this program will come back. Now, is it going to be us that gets this done?"

Neuheisel, in his first season, said he is drawing on the pride of the seniors to help begin the turnaround, which he hopes starts Saturday at winless Washington.

"It's never too late to start," he said. "We can't necessarily be sure when it will be finished, but it's never too late to start. That, I hope, everybody takes great pride in because we're all UCLA guys for life, and want desperately to start the trip back toward national prominence."

"UCLA guys for life." I like the sound of that. It gets me fired up.

The game this weekend is going to be tough against a team that will be desperate for a win. They showed signs of life against ASU this past weekend as they were up by 3 points (19-16) in third quarter before the walls caved in around them late in the game (sounds familiar). You can bet they will be fired up to close the deal this week against UCLA. Let’s hope the players and coaches chip away during practice this week. We will have more on Washington later.

GO BRUINS.

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