So what a baseball game we had last night. Not sure if anyone is up yet after that epic 16 innings marathon last night between the Bruins and Beavers (with classic threads right here on BN and also over at Building The Dam). I am sure everyone is going to be fired up for another game thread for the rubber match this afternoon (starting around noon PST). Before we get to baseball action though let's take in all the football notes this Sunday.
I will start with a little reminder for the Spring Game on April 24th:
You can get all the details you need for spring game on the official site. If I was living in Southern California though, I wouldn't wait till next April 24. That is because the Bruins will have a "full-padded intersquad scrimmage" which CRN is calling a "preview of 2010 season." That action gets started around 11 am over at Spaulding.
The action out in Spaulding has been pretty spirited this spring. One of the guys who have been infusing a lot of energy - especially in our defensive backfield - is the new graduated assistant Daronte' Jones. From the OC Register:
Unlike Carnell Lake, who spoke softly and rarely showed emotion in his one season of coaching the UCLA secondary, Jones is the opposite. He runs to the pass defenders after every play, telling the player what went wrong or providing him with a verbal pat on the back.
He caught the attention of everyone watching practice earlier this week when he and sophomore cornerback Sheldon Price got entangled in a few seconds of high-fives, and slaps on the back and helmet. That was after Price prevented a would-be receiver from hauling in a touchdown pass.
"It's one of those things," Jones said. "As a player, you always want to know if you did a great job or how you were on that play. I just give suggestions, or I congratulate you. Either way, I make it an effort to say after every play, 'Hey, great job,' or 'Remember this.'
"It's always been a strategy of mine, and it's one where you can bond. You can bond when you're constantly interacting. You only get to spend so many hours of the week out there (on the practice field), so as much time as I can interact with those guys, I'm interacting with them."
The players have picked up on it and are bring more enthusiasm to the field. It's something cornerback Aaron Hester says will pay off in the fall.
"He has a lot of energy," Hester said. "He's running around, he's flying around and we're taking on his personality. You can't help but pick up your coach's personality because you're with him every single day."
I thought Coach Lake did a really good job last year. Under him Rahim Moore went up another level in his development and ATV became a more polished senior. I thought Coach Lake also did a good job of bringing along the younger guys like Sheldon Price, who was playing with more confidence by the end of the season (even though Price had ways to go in terms of physical development). That said Lake took an understated NFL like approach.
I do like the thought of more emotion and energy coming out of Jones which can have positive impact on 18-21 year olds. Hope here is not only these guys are practicing with more energy but they are methodically developing their techniques and coverage skills day by day.
Speaking of incorporating techniques Keenan Graham talked to Gold about putting into practice what he has been learning from Todd Howard:
"It's [spring] going pretty well; I'm starting to use some of the techniques coach Howard had taught us, and I'm doing pretty well. All of us are making some mistakes up front, but we take it as a learning experience. The exciting thing about spring ball is we have many opportunities. You can mess up one day, come back out and get it tomorrow."
We have a very disciplined defense and gap-oriented to make sure you're in your spot. He's given us certain situations where we get a choice. We do have some liberty but if you take a chance you have to make the play.
On the other side of the ball, Richard Brehaut has been having a steady spring. Even though Kevin Prince seems to have a put a lock on the starting sport, it sure sounds like Brehaut is keeping it all in perspective:
Last spring it was a little bit more open just because we didn't have an established starter from the year before. Of course, Kev is going to get the majority of the reps with the ones and I understand that. At the same time, I'm getting almost equal reps with the twos and we're running the same thing. I'm getting my chance to show what I've learned and how much I've progressed.
Brehaut sounds like a very mature kid who is more concerned about the team than about himself. Future can always change on a dime but at this point Brehaut sounds like someone who is completely committed to Chow and Neuheisel for the long haul. I think down the line a scenario will be worked out in which Brehaut will red-shirt either next year or the year after ensuring he will have at least one year at UCLA, in which he will head into as the leading QB of the program.
We will end with a note from the special teams. Coach Frank Gansz spoke to Jon Gold about our return game:
"Right now, we've got a lot of guys out here - we have a lot of guys with speed who can run - and we're working on it daily. We really have been stressing it, but right now no one is emerging as that guy. It's going to be very competitive, and I'm even looking for freshmen to come in and compete. We're looking to be explosive. We can be much better at that. Terrence did a great job for us, but he was like our blanket. You could always count on him, he was consistent, he was a very reliable player, and he did a great job here. Terrence was an excellent returner. But we're looking to score. We were really good on our field position, but man, we want to score."
From what I saw it appears that Randall Carroll, Courtney Viney, Taylor Embree and Andrew Abbott were getting their shots at punt returns while Carroll and Damien Thigpen were getting their shots at KO returns. Carroll is still shaky at times with catching the ball. I think it has to do with a combination of focus and technique, which I think will come to him through practices. He sure seemed like a hard worker. I didn't get the sense that he was lollygagging or taking it easy. It will happen for him eventually. We just have to be patient for a bit. Meanwhile, Embree I think has the surest hands. The guy I am curious about is Ricky Marvray. I think it might be interesting for him to get a shot at punt returning. I think a player needs to have a certain sense of swagger and confidence to return punts. Marvray seems to have that confidence. Just a hunch on my part.
Well, we will find out how the guys perform in today's scrimmage which could lead it more revelations and surprises. Don't forget the action starts at 11 and then you can start following baseball (via BN's game thread) around 12.