FanPost

[Updated] UCLA Spring Game Commentary (w Video)

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

She may not be pretty, but she's ours.....that phrase might best sum up our Spring Game offense.  

With an O-line that maybe didn't get pushed back as much as in years past, but nonetheless failed to open many holes or provide more than momentary pass protection, the offense looked strikingly familiar to many UCLA followers.  However, keep in mind this is a review of last night's scrimmage, which is a single data point.  The sky is not falling; in fact, our athletic improvement is palpable.  Yet the execution last night was definitely lacking and needs to be reported as such. And these comments hopefully, if anything, initiate a good back and forth.

First, starting 'Prince Team' offense.  Prince, Coleman (RB), Sheller (LT), Baca (LG), Tayloer (C, for Maiava, who is injured), Eddie Williams (RG), Mike Harris (RT),  Cory Harkey (TE), Embree (Slot), Carroll (FL; F-back), Rosario (SE).  

Starting 'Brehaut Team' defense:  Damien Holmes (RDE), Nate Chandler (RDT), Justin Edison (LDT), Datone Jones (LDE), Aaron Hester (RCB), Sean Westgate (WLB), Steve Sloan (MLB), Akeem Ayers (SLB), Tony Dye (SS), Rahim Moore (FS)

Second, starting 'Brehaut Team' offense:  Brehaut (QB), Franklin (RB), Harris (RT), Yandall (RG), Capella (C), Hasiak (LG), Downey (LT), Fauria (TE), Presley (Slot), Marvray (FL; F-back), Johnson (SE)

Starting 'Prince Team' defense:  Keenan Graham (LDE), David Carter (LDT), Nate Chandler (RDT), Iuta Tepa (RDE), Isaiah Bowens (SLB), Patrick Larimor (MLB), Glenn Love (WLB), Viney (RCB), Dalton Hilliard (SS), Andrew Abbott  (LCB), Mascarenas (FS)

More after the jump.

With the loss of veteran defensive starters like Price, Verner, Carter, Siewierski and the Bosworths, you might be inclined to think that the offense was going up against a subpar defense compared to last year; however, I'm not so sure about that.  Yes, BP was a monster and most assuredly would've made this defense even that much better, but remember that it was David Carter in against Tennessee in that 4th & goal stuff.  And Nate Chandler's move to DT I think will turn out better than most think as he, at worst, held the point of attack and, in better moments, swatted passes and helped clog the A & B gaps all night.  I think Keenan Graham will be an upgrade at DE opposite Datone. 

Speaking of Datone, if there was a player of the game, he most definitely would've been the recipient.  Dude was sacking and pressuring the QB ALL night long.  Maybe a sack or two is eluded without the 'no tackle' rule in effect against the QB's, but he definitely disrupted a boatload of plays.  Just a big, big body and I love that he's just going into his Junior year...

And while Hester & Price will probably be starting at CB, we look to be pretty deep with Pollard & Viney both getting picks on the night....and not just ducks that floated into their waiting hands; these were legit picks with great technique and athleticism.  Andrew Abbott also was making plays all night, breaking up passes and, from my journeyman POV, just blanketing his receiver all night.  Marlon Pollard's INT was eerily (in a good way!) similar to ATV's 2007 pick against Cal to cement that win.  Both had the CB jump the pass, make the INT, and take it to the house without breaking stride.  Viney.  Man, that kid plays way bigger than his size.  What he lacks in size, he more than compensates for in aggressiveness.  I think he may give Sheldon Price a serious challenge for the starting CB spot.  Dye & Moore were surprisingly quiet on the night, although, I think the 'no news is good news' aphorism comes into play here.  At a minimum, we were never burned deep.

As far as the offense, the O-line was definitely the weak link.  All night long, the LOS was a massive blob of humanity.  Yards gained, for the most part, if any, were achieved by squirting through a slot.  Much of the time, initial contact was made behind the LOS with the RB either fighting forward for an effective 'no gain,' or bouncing off to the side, which was maybe a little less collapsed.  In one play, there was literally a LT, RB, TE and LG 'blocking' a DE and DT.  The DT made the tackle for very little gain.  Many times, it looked like the motion man (sometimes Presley) would completely avoid a DE to go block a LB......meanwhile the DE would make the tackle.  It is hard to imagine that Presley would shy away from contact, so I'm positive it was designed that way and either (i) the DE was quick to the ball; (ii) someone missed their assignment; or (iii) the QB to RB handoff took too long, allowing the DE the time to get to the ball.  Regardless, there were way too many blown assignments.  Hope this improves over the summer.  Also, some bad snaps should be worked out over summer.  Snaps led to at least one fumble recovery by the D, and I can't imagine how disruptive it must be to a QB to have to take his eyes off the coverage/receivers to retrieve a snap at his feet.

It wouldn't be fair to judge the receivers since they didn't often have the opportunity to make legit receptions.  Oftentimes the passes were low, behind, batted down, or weren't made at all.  The result is that most of the receivers had to make acrobatic catches and efforts for the few balls that did come their way.  Timing just wasn't there...which could be a result of the pressure.  Or not.  You'll see some example of these passes in the video I'll post later (when google stops 'processing' it).  In addition, the passes that were caught were not the type that would allow for a 'Barnes to Stokes' kind of breakaway TD reception.  Most of the time the receiver had to stop his route, or contort mid-jump to make the catch, which precluded any serious YAC.  However, any reception for the evening was widely applauded...It was interesting that Fauria made an early catch, but wasn't to be seen anytime thereafter.  I hope he didn't get hurt, but it seemed Harkey was in most of the plays during the scrimmage.

RB's likewise can't be faulted for trying to make lemonade out of lemons.  As I said, the LOS was just a huge mass of bodies for the most part.  So, it's hard to fault the RB's for not doing more with nothing.  While some of the runs may seem like they got an OK amount of yards, keep in mind the first 3 - 4 yards are behind the LOS.  There were many runs that looked good during that 3-4 yards, but the net gain was zero.  Yes, Derrick Coleman was the highlight.  He did make some good, tough runs.  But on at least one run, the offense was able to capitalize on some defensive miscommunication that allowed the offense to get the ball off before the defense was in position.  But that was only one of a few good runs.  Franklin, Knox and Allmond didn't do much to speak of.  Allmond was able to lay some punishment on the defense, but netted only a handful of yards.  

QB's.  Wow.  To begin with, just not an accurate night at all.  Very few, if any, legitimate drops by receivers, while the best completions were honestly the INT's.  There was literally one throw that hit a posting Rosario in the knee.  In addition, not only was our QB subject to uninflicted punishment from our O-line play tonight, but the pistol means he's subject to further punishment as an active participant in most of the plays.  I hope the size and speed Prince has added over the offseason helps him take and avoid the forthcoming punishment.   Crissman has that weird wind-up, but he was able to get the ball off...although he didn't complete much.  Brehaut did manage to drive his team to within FG position to strike first, but the rest was much the same as Prince.  Hope to see the timing and accuracy kinks worked out over the spring/summer.

Special teams.  Marvray muffed a return, but caught the next one.  Embree started out receiving punts, with a fair catch and another coffin kick.  Thigpen had two good PR's...love to see him in open space.  Should be a benefit against teams with weak punters.  If Embree is returning punts, though, it'll likely be when the opposing team is punting from deep in their own territory.  Steady and dependable is what is called for in those situations.  Forbath.  Rock.  Mother. Loving. Solid.  57 yard FG was actually 57.5.  

At the end of the day, a solid defensive performance, albeit against a plain-jane offensive gameplan.  I'm sure there are some wrinkles and tricks up some sleeves that'll catch opponents off-guard...IF we can execute.  I take this night as just that; one page in a volume of work.  We do have noticeably more talent.  We're bigger, faster and hitting hard.  The athleticism is there and, hopefully, with the return of Maiava and Abele, our OL will perform more solidly.  We really just need the QB's to get the balls in the vicinity of the receivers torso area to use our WR athleticism.  And we need the OL to hit their assignments and create just a little gap through which our RB's are adept at squeezing through.  

With that.....once google stops 'processing' my video, I will present my once-yearly contribution to my non-local Bruin brethren in a follow-up Fanpost.....The Glenn Love hit on Coleman will be in there, as are Coleman's runs and the INT's by Viney & Pollard.

UPDATE (N): The video is now posted above. Amazing post from Scot. GO BRUINS.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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