Spring football practices are over. Bruins go under the lights at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night around 7 pm. You can get full details of on the spring game in the rebumped fanpost. Coaches and players got ready by having a light practice on Thursday afternoon. One of the main highlights of the practice was seniors coming out as assistant coaches which officially marked the end for "going over the wall" at least for spring practices.
According to the LA Times there were some players still thinking about going "over the wall" on Tuesday. This time seniors put a stop to that nonsense and it was Micah Kia setting the tone for the entire team:
"I just told boys, ‘No, we're not going over the wall,' " Kia said. " I wasn't the only player to disagree. I was the one who kind of said something about it. We have a lot of long-term goals, and in order to reach them every practice counts." [...]
"He told us we were football players and there were certainly responsibilities that came with that," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "He said it's our obligation to take advantage of every opportunity to get better."
Kia knows full-well the value of that, having missed last season after sustaining a torn knee ligament in August. His work has paid off as he is atop the depth chart at left tackle. Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said that Kia, Sean Sheller and Mike Harris will get first crack at winning the two tackle spots.
It is interesting how leadership works. This example goes to show that it is not just enough to be perceived or anointed as leaders of a team. Leadership often entails having the standing among fellow team-mates that goes beyond offering up quotes in the local papers or being demonstrative on the field or basketball court.
It is clear that Kia and the upperclassmen in this team have a sense of gravitas that didn't exist before (there were seniors in the earlier teams voicing displeasure against "over the wall" but weren't able to stop it). I am hoping that this kind of chemistry will also carry over to the football field this Fall. More after the jump.
As mentioned up top practice was a little light but Coach Rick Neuheisel sounded pretty pleased with what he saw:
How can we go another day with more discussion on UCLA's revolver formation. Thankfully Coach Norm Chow set the record straight that this is "not a new offense" that the Bruins will be rolling out this Fall:
"It's not a new offense," offensive coordinator Norm Chow insisted.That, Chow said, would go against his better judgment.
"Prior to us getting here, I know Ben (Olson) and Pat Cowan had different systems every year," Chow said.
"You have to learn it (again). I think the continuity helps. That's what it takes for a great quarterback; it takes the same system."
Perhaps just not the same formation. The pistol is a variant of the spread-option where the quarterback must be accounted for as a runner.
Hopefully Chow and UCLA coaches will stop getting dumb questions about whether UCLA is rolling out a "new offense." It is getting a little silly. FWIW Chow is excited about Prince's development this spring:
"He's mature," Chow said. "He understands what we're trying to get done. He understands the offense. He's been there. He has a better feel for it."
Prince also has refined his throwing motion and footwork, two things that will come into play in an offense that calls upon him to be more mobile. His goals are far different than they were last spring when consistency took a back seat to winning the starting job.
Hopefully Richard Brehaut will get to the same stage in the coming year. Brehaut will get there before he is done at UCLA. At least from the reports he took couple of step forward this spring. The fact that Prince is now ahead of Brehaut is not a surprise considering Prince had one year head start in getting familiar with Chow's scheme.
In other personnel note Bruins tried out Damien Holmes at tight end position for the day:
UCLA defensive end Damien Holmes was temporarily moved to tight end for Thursday's practice, as he could potentially be an emergency replacement at the position, should the need arise. The Bruins consider the position a strength, with juniors Cory Harkey and Notre Dame transfer Joseph Fauria, but with sophomore Morrell Presley moving to the F-back position, they are looking for some depth
Always make sense to think ahead and be ready for contingency plans. Don't forget Bruins also switched Connor Bradford to TE this spring and we will also have a freshman TE - John Young (Loyola HS) - checking in this summer.
It sounds like coaches and players are all jacked up about the game. I imagine it is going to be a lot of fun to be around the Rose Bowl and tailgate with other Bruins. Just crossing my fingers that everyone comes out healthy to finish up what seems to have been a productive spring.