Spaulding Roundup: Notes From Practice & More On Neuheisel's Return To Seattle

Some really interesting news out of Spaulding today. Apparently Ben Olson took majority of the second-team snaps yesterday. From the Daily News:

UCLA quarterback Ben Olson took the majority of second-team snaps Tuesday as preparation began for Saturday's game at winless Washington, and said afterward his foot was feeling better and he was eager to play.

However, whether Olson supplants Chris Forcier as the backup to starter Kevin Craft won't be decided until late this week.

"It feels OK, but you're battling through a lot of things when you're coming back from an injury. Not just the injury itself," Olson said. "Your legs, your timing, you haven't played live for a couple of months. But I did a lot more than I thought."

Neuheisel said he still needs to speak with offensive coordinator Norm Chow about how the quarterback position will be handled this week, but gave a quick critique of Olson's day.

"He looked rusty," Neuheisel said.

Olson has been out since breaking a bone in his right foot in August, the second time it happened in four months. And although even Olson said it was unlikely he could play against Washington given this is his first full week of practice since training camp, he didn't rule it out.

"I think coach Chow will do a good job of putting me in situations that he thinks I can handle at this point, physically," said Olson, who showed he still has his sense of humor. "So, a lot of options, a lot of quarterback draws."

Good to see BO still being able to laugh about it. But I think it is a little more than telling that Chow and Neuheisel are willing to give Olson majority of the second-team snaps. The significance here IMHO is not whether or not Olson is ready to contribute, but it tells us what we need to know about what they think about Forcier’s ability to run this offense in their system.

I still hope that Olson is not rushed in under any circumstances but I trust the judgment of Chow and Neuheisel on how they handle the situation.

Meanwhile, on the defensive side Coach Walker sent a clear message to his players about finishing the game. From the LAT:

The UCLA defensive players gathered in a bunch after practice Tuesday, bouncing off the field, yelling, displaying emotion you might not expect from a unit hit by big scores the last two games.

"Just people who love football," safety Rahim Moore said. "We're just showing that things aren't over."

Earlier in the day, defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker had gathered his players for a closed-door meeting.

"Let's just say the bowl situation, when you start seeing that drift away, you can feel like you're running out of time," he said. "I was explaining to them that there are personal goals that can keep you motivated and goals as a group."

Walker was upset about the final touchdown in a 34-6 loss to Oregon State, a UCLA linebacker missing his gap, allowing a 35-yard run. He challenged starters to keep improving and backups to work toward breaking into the lineup.

He also told the defense that "we've managed to play well for three quarters and change. We need to do it for four quarters."

Should be interesting how they respond in a hostile situation this Saturday. Speaking of dealing with a possible hostile situation, here is a pretty good article re. CRN’s return to the Emerald City. Bob Condotta from the Seattle Times wrote about CRN’s contrite tone re. his previous team:

"The one thing I regret is that I would have been more heavy-handed with Jerramy Stevens," he said, referring to the tight end who had several legal issues at UW and has had more in his ongoing NFL career.

"Given another opportunity, I won't make the same mistake, and I don't say it because I'm mad at Jerramy but to tell him I'm sorry I didn't [punish him more]. I had a chance to send him a clear message and instead it was a mixed one and I regret that. But there were a lot of great kids on that team and in terms of what we accomplished that year, it was just a great team to be a part of."

His other significant regret, he said, is lying about interviewing for a coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers in February of 2003, which UW officials later cited in his firing.

Condotta went on to report how Neuheisel stays in close touch with his former players (who seem totally devoted to him)

Neuheisel said he had a reunion last summer with some of the players on that 2000 team, such as lineman Matt Rogers, safety Hakim Akbar and linebacker Derrell Daniels, who now works on-campus at UCLA and sometimes volunteers in the football office.

He stays in touch with a few others — he said he got a text message from Reggie Williams after the Bruins beat Tennessee in his first game as UCLA's coach, reciting one of Neuheisel's favorite sayings that "tough times don't last but tough people do."

And how he is not holding any grudges against anyone which includes Barbara Hedges, the former Washington A.D. who by all accounts totally mishandled the situation when she attempted to terminate him (which later blew up on the faces of the Husky Administration resulting in a settlement awarding millions to Neuheisel):

"She was very gracious," Neuheisel said. Neuheisel isn't expecting much grace Saturday, however. Asked what he thinks his legacy is in the minds of most UW fans, he said "unfortunately, I think that [the ending] will be primarily what people will remember because it was such a controversial time.

"It will be what it will be," he said of the reception he expects to receive. "I'm pretty sure the negative will outweigh the other. But that's OK. In some way, they are all cheering for Husky football however you are viewing it."

Well, one corner of the web you can expect a lot of Husky Grace is UW Dawg Pound, where John B is urging his fellow Huskies to show class when CRN returns to Mont Lake (his posts are generating some heated and passionate discussion, which IMHO is more than understandable). As I have said before, karma is going to work out both for UCLA/CRN and Washington with it’s next head coach.


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