School Starts This Week, Photo Credit: don.lee (flickr)
Well the good news from the bye week is our team will have chance to heal up, work on addressing issues around penalties, and have extra time to game plan for a tough opponent, who will be looking for revenge (just like Tennessee was) in Palo Alto. The bad news is for rest of the us we are going to have deal with a weekend without Bruin football. The waiting around during bye week (at least for me) sometimes feel like the endless wait we often feel around summer training camp when I am left counting the hours till kickoff. Actually we can live with that because the benefits far outweigh our selfish reasons as fans.
This bye week couldn't have come at a better time for UCLA, as it will allow the team to regroup and hopefully improve (which they need to badly following this past weekend's game) heading into Stanford.
His offense is ranked No. 105 in the country in total offense, able to move the ball in chunks at times but ineffective at others.
It is the little things that eat at Neuheisel - the blown assignment, the bonehead penalty, the missed opportunity.
"Just the little details, formationing," Neuheisel said. "Making sure guys are lining up where they need to be. We need to get that cleaned up. There is just a host of things that we can be better at. I'm looking forward to ironing it out. I don't want to lose a play that could cost us the game."
As Neuheisel said yesterday this week the coaches will have a "training camp" like atmosphere at Spaulding, where I am assuming he and his staff will spend a good chunk of time focusing on fundamentals heading into game week. It's clear that play of our OL and DL have improved since week 1. Now if we can clean up the peformance in terms of penalties, we will be able to take another step.
As mentioned above, in addition giving them an opportunity to work on the basics, the bye week will also allow the Bruins to get back some of our injured players. CRN is hiping to get Gavin Ketchum, Nick Ekbatani and Christian Ramirez back for the Stanford game. In addition, we will have Viney, Knox, Carroll and Presley back in the fold as well. The infusion of those guys back in practices for game prep hopefully will provide a boost to the team.Also, I think this past Satruday made it clear how much emphasis coaches put in practices. I think it is worth noting that if you go back through our Spaulding roundups last week, you will find how the coaches gave Richard Brehaut majority of the reps this past Tuesday. In other words, if one wants to read into the tea-leaves, it is pretty clear that Neuheisel and Chow gave Brehaut a serious opportunity to win the starting position against Kansas State. However, when Craft looked better with the reps he got, he ended up earning more reps on Wednesday and held on to it through rest of the week, earning the starting spot on Saturday.
If I read Chow and Neuehisel correctly, I think they were planning to put Brehaut in the game. However, they didn't want to take the chance when the game got too close with a true freshman. My hunch is if we didn't have those penalties in the first half, and had a more comfortable lead heading into third quarter, we would have seen Brehaut for a series or two. So, I hope for next two weeks, Richard Brehaut gives everything he has in these practices to push Kevin Craft, and consequently make the team better. Based on what I have read about him, heard from him, and from close program officers, I think he is going to stay persistent, committed, and give everything he has. This is a very different situation than the one Dorrell had with Matt Moore, when both sides were guilty of awful communication (or total lack thereof). I am not going to rehash that nightmare scenario all over again.
Lastly, another reason the bye week is very good for the team this week: school starts this week. That's right UCLA's fall quarter starts this week, which means it will allow the true freshman some breathing room to adjust between classes and practice schedules, so that they are in well adjusted rhythm next week juggling classes and practices during a full fledged game week. Of course unlike their fellow freshmen who are getting their first full taste of being on campus this week, I imagine the football players (and other student athletes who have already been for a campus a bit this summer) will not be walking around the campus with maps in their bookpacks. lol