Hey thank God we still have some football to talk about this December. I cannot imagine the mood around here (and within the general Bruin Nation) if we were just left with the joy of discussing Dragovic, Anderson and no bowl game this season. Anyway, things are definitely more upbeat over at Spaulding where the freshmen are taking full advantage of the extra practices courtesy of extra couple of weeks of practice. The LAT has a report on how Richard Brehaut has been gobbling up the reps with first team:
"Reps, reps, reps," said Brehaut, a freshman. "All these extra practices, where I get to run the first team, are going to help me and get me ready for spring practice."
It has given Brehaut a chance to put a positive finish on a rocky season, even if Prince heals in time to play against Temple on Dec. 29.
"The more snaps he gets, the more he seems comfortable," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "And the more he starts to understand the nature of the job."
Now the extra practices doesn't mean that Brehaut will be starting against the Owls. I am going to guess Prince will be getting the start and Craft will be back in the mix, when the coaces install gameplan for Temple. However, in the early going coaches are doing everything they can to get the freshmen extra reps with the first team, and getting Brehaut his time in is part of the plan. It also gets Brehaut in the right frame of mind heading into spring ball:
"I think any extra looks will benefit me when the competition gets started in spring ball," Brehaut said. "I have been able to show the coaches what I have learned thus far and how much harder I'm going to work."
Brehaut is not the only freshman taking full advantage of the bowl prep. More on that after the jump.Remember Randall Carroll? The freshman, the LAT made a huge deal out of because of a silly tweet? Well here he was after yesterday's practices talking about the need to impress the coaches:
"I need to really prove that I know the offense and that I can play 100 percent all the time," said Carroll, a wide receiver. "That's the hardest thing to translate from high school to college. You can take plays off in high school; here they want you to go 100 percent all the time. I started to get better toward the end of the season, so I want to keep improving on that."
Gold from the Daily News had more on the importance of these practices for Carroll and other frosh:
For players such as Carroll, who averaged a handful of plays every game and is looked upon as a major potential downfield threat, these extra practice reps are incredibly important — and rare.
Unlike freshmen who play on the scout teams and get constant work against the first units in practice every day, Carroll and Co. must stand patiently and watch as their older brethren get the work. All of a sudden, this week becomes a lot more important to that select few with things to prove.
"Every day is an audition for the coaches," freshman defensive back Brandon Sermons said. "They're watching everything; after practice they watch all the film. It really is an audition."
While freshmen like Sermons, Carroll and Brehaut are working to impress the coaches now, other frosh such as XSF and Sheldon Price, who already saw a lot of action this year are looking to build a comfort zone building on their playing experiences from their first season:
Su'a-Filo arrived in fall camp hoping to become a starter on the offensive line. He started at left tackle in all 12 games.
"It's everything that I planned on accomplishing this year," he said. "I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity to do what I accomplished, and then to come and have fun to experience this bowl procedure is a lot of fun."
Price expected to spend a lot of time on the bench, watching and learning from players such as Alterraun Verner and Aaron Hester.
Circumstances thrust Price into the starting lineup by the third week. He remained there the rest of the season.
"I came in knowing that I had to work hard, and that if I did the work, the chances would increase for me to see some playing time on the field," Price said. "Once I got in against Kansas State for my first start, I wanted to make sure I didn't mess up.
"Now it's coming naturally to me. The game has kind of slowed down and I'm able to make my plays."
Well in the case of XSF it will be interesting to see if he takes his LDS mission during school. I got the impression that he had a great time in Westwood and just like Kevin Prince he might be deferring his mission until he is done with school. We will have to wait and see.
As for Sheldon Price, I think he did improve as the season went along (played great against Jake Locker in the Washington game). He needs to have a great off season this year and put on about 15-20 pounds on his frame. If he can do that and get stronger, I think he has the potential to emerge as a solid corner at UCLA, who can provide great run support while being an effective defender against some great Pac-10 QBs. I think with Price, Hester, Sermons, Pollard, Dye, Moore and the other recruits we have brought in last year and bringing in this year, we are going to be well set up in the defensive secondary for a while.
All in all, it is fun to read these updates about our freshmen. Get all of us even more excited about next season. Let's hope these guys can really focus in next couple of weeks and get us the victory over the Owls. XSF who has shown the most maturity among our freshmen with his play on the field set the tone in the OC Register piece:
"Coach Neuheisel and (special teams) coach (Frank) Gansz said the most important thing about this bowl game is to win," Su'a-Filo said.
"Bowl games are fun and everything you do is fun but you can't forget the main objective is to go and win. If you can't do that, it will spoil the whole trip."
Sounds like a future team captain to me. No?