Monday was a slow news day out of Spaulding. Not much in the way of practice, with just some convos with players plus Rick Neuheisel's Monday presser. A couple of notes to start off the morning:
The playcalling of the dearly departed Petey, carried out by Matt Barkley at the end of last year's rivalry game caught the immediate ire of Bruins Nation - and most of those who follow football on a regular basis - though the general feeling may have muted a bit only due to the bomb being only the last instance of Petey running up the score. While SC has changed coaches, the anger among this community has simmered. While Coach Neuheisel tried playing down the emotions that followed in yesterday's presser, his players still remember.
"It was disrespectful," UCLA defensive tackle David Carter said. "We have a chance to come back and get them."
"You're close to the end and you see play action and you see the ball over your head and their fans going crazy," UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "That is definitely a lot of motivation. We're going to come out this year to win, not just a close game, but a great win." ... "There was nothing we could do about it at that moment. We get a fresh start in the first quarter. There is something we can do about it now to make sure that doesn't happen again. Pay back, you know."
Good to hear that the players are feeling a little extra motivation heading into the week. Given the reports of less-than-spirited practices coming out of Spaulding earlier in the fall, there had better be some epic battles going on in practice this week. The importance of the rivalry is certainly not lost on our student-athletes.
"I was disappointed we didn't get to a bowl game, but I won't care about that if we beat USC," said senior defensive lineman David Carter. "It's the highlight of the year."
While most people that have followed and participated in this blog over the past several months, if not years, would agree that a win over SC on Saturday would ease some of the harsh feelings around this season, a victory cannot and should not serve to forgive and erase the mistakes of the past few months when it comes to the inevitable look forward to the future of UCLA Football (see 13-9 and the retention of CTS, for example).In other news, Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore made the shocking statements that they will ... wait until the offseason to determine their draft status before deciding whether or not to declare early for the NFL draft.
"I was caught up in it," Moore said of his comments after the Bruins' 55-34 loss at Arizona State on Friday. "I'm not really worrying about next year. I'm loyal to the team. I don't have any plans on leaving. I haven't even discussed it with my family yet.
"I don't know what my decision is going to be."