No matter how long winter is, spring is sure to follow -- Proverb
There are only two sports in Texas, football and spring football -- legendary Texas SID Jones Ramsey
Spring is nature's way of saying "Let's Party." -- Robin Williams
I'm sitting here trying to figure out which of the above quotes best describes UCLA football, one day before our annucal spring scrimmage at the Rose Bowl.
After our long winter watching Nikola Dragovic not rebound or play defense, I know many of you -- like me -- looked forward to spring football, hoping for a respite from what was not only a losing basketball season, it was an ugly and boring basketball season.
Well, spring football arrived and it delivered.Kevin Prince, by all accounts (including mine, I actually went to two football practices this year and actually watched the players most of the time instead of ogling coeds) emerged as a true number one quarterback. Prince had a fine spring, throwing the ball well and commanding the offense.
Speaking of which, the Bruins went almost all spring exclusively in a new formation. It's not a new offense per se, most of the plays are the same with just a few new wrinkles in the running game, but the new Revolver formation -- with the quarterback in a semi-shotgun and the tailback lined up behind him -- plays right into Prince's strengths as a mobile, tough running quarterback. Along with the new formation comes a new zone blocking scheme which the young-but-improving offensive line picked up steadily throughout spring practice.
And, you know what? .... I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Richard Brehaut, Prince's back-up and his competitor. Call me crazy, but I thought Brehaut had a really nice spring, too. A ball he threw last Tuesday was as well thrown as anything I've seen from any UCLA quarterback in a long time, a deep pass on a crossing pattern that hit the receiver in perfect stride as it dropped down between two defenders.
You can see I'm enthused, but I'm not unrealistic.
This is not Texas, you see, and spring football is not the dominant story on campus. While spring football has been going on, the baseball team has taken up permanent residence in the weekly Top Ten, the gymnastics team has battled it's way into the national finals and a number of the other so-called "non-revenue sports" are also enjoying great seasons with championship possibilities.
Why mention this? Because even though UCLA football has had a great spring and we have more reason to be excited than we have in a long time, we must remember that this is still a rebuilding program. Our best player from last season is going to be selected in the NFL draft tonight (and, sure, it has occurred to me that the absence of Brian Price is another reason Prince and the offense looked good the past three weeks). We are looking down the barrel of a tough non-conference schedule and the conference is loaded with good, returning quarterbacks (though none are named Masoli). My take now is no different than when spring practice began: judge this team by it's conference record, not it's overall record. Houston and K-State are tough games and Texas (see above) is still Texas even if their star quarterback has graduated.
Tomorrow night at the Rose Bowl is the party Robin Williams is talking about. The Spring Game at the Rose Bowl is a festive, don't-miss-it-if-you-can-help-it event. Let's be clear: it's not always and only about wins and losses and what bowl game you get invited to. Sometimes it's about having a good time, sparking up the barbecue, cracking a beer, flying the colors and being true to your school. That's the spring game. Don't go just to try and learn something about the team. If you've been following Nestor's reporting this month, you know what there is to know (and it's one reason why I didn't try to recap spring in this post.) Go because it's going to be a beautiful night in the Arroyo Seco. Go because you want to show your support for the team and go because it's the last chance for months to savor and sip from the Blue and Gold fountain of Bruin football.
With that, here are you Pregame Guesses, Spring Game Edition:
- When the final stats are tallied, which receiver will have the most catches tomorrow night?
- Who will get an interception?
- Name a Bruin who scores more than one touchdown?