Spaulding Roundup: Projecting Confidence (& Defiance)

We will start our Friday roundup with a little perspective from our defense. They are feeling confident after getting better of our developing offense during most of this fall camp. However, projecting that confidence doesn’t mean they are counting our offense out. Briah Dohn has a good report today in the Daily News on Reggie Carter’s (one of our key defensive leaders) perspective on our offense:

"I think we're the more confident group right now," Carter said. "We're the more experienced group right now, so I think we're going to have to uplift the team. But as far as carry, I think coach Chow is going to do his part, regardless of who else is on the field.

"He's going to manage the ball because he's a great coach, and he's smart, so he's going to help us out a lot in terms of controlling the game. So, I don't think it's going to be a burden on us."

The offense may not be a burden but as Dohn pointed out we have to be realistic about the issues such as the injury problem plaguing our OL:

Now, unless Micah Kia overcomes a broken hand to protect Craft's blind side in the opener, four of the Bruins' five offensive linemen will make their first career starts. And three - left tackle Brandon Bennett, right guard Sonny Tevaga and right tackle and converted tight end Nate Chandler - will play for the first time.

Only center Micah Reed, who played guard last season, has started a game, and left guard Nick Ekbatani last played in 2006.

It could force Craft to throw the ball quickly, and put a premium on Chow's creativity in play-calling and his ability to isolate skill players in preferred matchups against defenses.

FWIW Carter thinks the guys on the other side are coming along “slowly”:

"I think they're coming along slowly. Slowly, slowly, slowly," Carter said. "It's an adjustment, but they're getting better.

"Just hold onto the ball. Keep it going forward. Don't go backwards. We'll do the rest. Don't give it to the other team, keep it for awhile and then when we get out there, we'll give it back to you."

That’s pretty much all we can ask from our offense right now. I am excited to see how these guys come out on Labor Day. They must be tired of hearing about their injury issues and the doubting that is going on in the traditional media and frankly also by us (including yours truly) as we are doing what we can to be realistic about this year’s team. As noted by Ted Miller, Micah Reed (our starting C) is in a defiant mood:

Reed is admirably defiant about the line. He knows they're doubted. He knows many Bruins fans believe the line is the team's Achilles' heel.

What does he say to them?

"Just watch us on Monday night against Tennessee on Sept. 1," he said. "That's it. Be looking out for us."

As our defense is getting confident (and the offense defiant), coaches are pouring over tapes. In DeWayne Walker’s case he has been going over Richmond games tapes:

Tennessee has a first-year offensive coordinator in Dave Clawson and a quarterback, Jonathan Crompton, who threw only 12 passes last season.

"It's difficult and we're probably trying to cover too much," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "But you have to because you're not really sure what they're going to come out with."

The Bruins faced the same problem in last season's opener against Stanford, which had first-year Coach Jim Harbaugh. Walker and the defensive staff studied tapes of the University of San Diego, where Harbaugh had coached the previous season.

This August, they are getting their fill of Richmond tape, as Clawson was the Spiders' head coach in 2007.

"We're gathering up as much tape as possible," Walker said. "Scheme is scheme. We know there can be differences from last season, but it's the Southeastern Conference. We know they are going to bring great players and you have to get your guys lined up."

And speaking of lining up, Walker has settled on a starter at SLB. It will be John Hale but he can’t really get comfortable because his lead over Akeem is within the margin of error:

UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker has settled on his starting 11 for the Sept. 1 opener against No. 18 Tennessee, with the lone spot in question going to senior John Hale at strong side linebacker.

Walker said Hale beat out redshirt freshman Akeem Ayers thanks to his "football IQ," and praised Hale's play in training camp.

"John knows he can't make a lot of mistakes, and he doesn't," Walker said Thursday. "We're going to go with the experience early. That's going to be an ongoing competition anyway, so don't be surprised if John messes up a play and Akeem is in there. We're going to keep that thing hot as long as we can."

Other kids who will be included in the Tennessee game plan (and probably get a chance to line up) are tailback Aundre Dean, tight end Cory Harkey and receivers Nelson Rosario, Antwon Moutra and Taylor Embree on offense, and safeties Rahim Moore, Tony Dye, corner Aaron Hester, linebacker Sean Westgate and defensive end Datone Jones on defense (See Pearson’s report on PE.com).

Can’t wait to watch this unveiling. Just 10 more days.

GO BRUINS.

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