CPOBruin did a great job on his post about the possibilities of the depth chart for next year. I agree with most everything he wrote, but I responded that I am not so optimistic because I have failed to see CRN and staff play the right guys, or hold any of the players accountable for shoddy play and laziness or stupidity on the field. I was asked by a few people to fanpost my response. So here is what I wrote in response to him:
My biggest gripe is that CRN and staff have never shown that they will play the better guy, or the guy that is producing. Here are five examples:
Example #1: Rosario and Embree both had subpar years and never ran good routes and dropped passes from the opening snap against Kansas State. In the middle of the year when Marvray and Carrol (and even Smith) started to produce, the majority of snaps still went to Rosario and Embree, even though they continued to drop balls, not be aggressive to the ball, and run crappy routes.
Example #2: Josh Smith was one of the best return men in college football when at Colorado. He comes to UCLA and suddenly he can’t catch a punt? Come on. To make matters worse, they put Embree, our possession receiver who has no chance of breaking off a punt return back to retun punts? Ridiculous. Put someone back their with some burners. If Smith isn’t it, coach up Marvray (he later did a few), Carrol, or Thigpen to do it … not Embree.
Example #3: When I was at the Arizona game it was painfully obvious that Steve Sloan (who was in for Larimore) was painfully slow to the ball and not a good tackler. He got hurt and in came Zumwalt, who was everything Sloan wasn’t. Zumwalt was a stud in the middle. Why wasn’t he playing earlier? Because the coaches did a poor job and seemed to just give the position to Sloan because he was next in line.
Example #4: The coaches did a very poor job in regards to the quarterback position. Why wasn’t Brehaut developed more when it was obvious to everyone that Prince wasn’t ready on many occasions because of injury? That was baffling. Prince didn’t even practice at times during the week and still played. If you are Joe Montana you get that type of treatment. If you are Kevin Prince, you ride the bench until healthy. Also, I posted before the beginning of the season that Prince would get hurt. It isn’t his fault, but he is injury prone. He sat out his senior year at Crespi HS with a knee injury and has missed many games at UCLA with injuries.
Example #5: The way Malcolm Jones was used. Either play the guy or redshirt him. Didn’t make sense.
Which brings me to my next point. Do we really have a true competition at positions? I don’t think so.
I know two players personally on the team who say that the belief within the program is that certain guys will play regardless of their effort or ability in practice. The way that CRN has ran his program, I see no way the following:
- James and Jones ahead of Coleman: No way that Coleman is #4 on the depth chart behind James and Jones. While maybe he should be, it won’t happen. CRN has proved that he likes Coleman, and James and Jones can turn into Adrian Peterson and it won’t matter. Coleman will play over them.
- Carroll/Marvray over Embree/Rosario: No way that Carrol and Marvray are ahead of Embree and Rosario on the depth chart. Both those two gave substandard efforts this year and still played ahead of more reliable, harder working players. Rosario and Embree will be starting against Houston next year at Houston to open the season. While maybe they shouldn’t be, they will. CRN has proven that. Heck, Carrol and Marvray can turn into Andre Johnson and it won’t matter, Embree and Rosario will play over them.
- Olaniyan over Westgate: While Olaniyan may be ripping it up in practice with the scout squad, and may rip it up all spring, their is no way that he plays over Bullough’s boy, Sean Westgate. I love Westgate. I love his effort and his heart. A Bruin all the way. But he is severely limited and is just too small to take on Offensive Lineman, let alone tougher-than-shit fullbacks coming at him one-on-one through the hole. His effort this year, while honorable, was not that of a quality Pac-10 linebacker. Olaniyan has All-Pac 10 written all over him, and has an incredible future but it won’t be this year. Heck, he can turn into Ray Lewis and it won’t matter. Westgate will play over him because that is the way that it works in our program.
- Zumwalt and Larimore together: While it seems reasonable that Larimore and Zumwalt must be in the lineup together, has history shown us that will happen? Nope. It’ll probably end up being Larimore as the #1, followed by Zumwalt, followed by Sloan. While CPO is correct that he must be on the field with Larimore to create an incredible inside duo unless Zumwalt turns into Lawrence Taylor, it ain’t gonna happen. Westgate will be playing over him, or someone else may be. Hey, on the bright site, we’ll have a great backup at MIKE if Larimore gets hurt again.
- Realistically looking beyond Prince: Prince will be starting. The reports out of camp will be that Chow wants Prince to start. I don’t know, maybe so he can get some free dental work or something. The reports will be that Prince has worked hard in the weightroom and is throwing the ball better than he has since his Pop Warner days. Everyone will forget about his shortcomings (injury prone, not accurate, etc.) and they will anoint him the next Matt Leinart. Brehaut, who should be starting, and Hundley, who should be the backup, will get minimal time until Prince gets hurt again. Heck, Brehaut could become the next Drew Brees and it still won’t matter … Prince will be starting because that is the way it works at UCLA.
Sorry to be so negative, but as they say, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it or something like that. If everything CPO projects in his discussion of depth chart proves to be true, then I have no doubt we will have a great year. I have just seen this movie too many times and I know the ending already. I don’t want to watch it again. I just can’t do it.
I hope to hell I am wrong and that CRN finds his balls and puts the right people in the right positions. If he was smart, he would pull all his players, and all his coaches, into a meeting room and tell them that nobody’s job is safe, including his, and the best players will play and that the best coaches will continue to coach. PERIOD!! When that happens, and only when that happens, will we win next year. However, I ask you, has anything in this program the past three years indicated to you that that will happen? I didn’t think so.