Let's start our walk with some intel from the prairies. Bruins open the season with Kansas State in about 128 days (who is counting). We won a pretty hard fought battle last year against a Wildcat team which was going through a rebuilding season under the program's god father Bill Snyder. I thought the Wildcats did pretty well with a 6-6 record in first year of Snyder's return to Manhattan which included an eye opening 62-14 pasting of Texas A&M. Those guys will be looking to take another step forward this season and no doubt they will mark down the UCLA date as one of the jumping off point for a great season.
So with that backdrop here is a report from the Wildcats' spring game which included an impressive performance (at least in terms of passing yards) from the number 1 QB. Kellis Robinett from the Kansas City Star's "campus corner" posted a look back at K-State's spring football game:
For starters, coach Bill Snyder has established Carson Coffman as the front-runner at quarterback.
While calling his own plays, Coffman threw for 440 yards and seven touchdowns. Those stats were inflated because they came against a second-team defense that was not allowed to blitz him, but Coffman made some impressive throws -- including a few nice fade passes -- all the same.
The question now is how much of a lead does he have in the race? My guess is only minimal. Coffman had an impressive spring game last year, too, and that didn't carry over to the regular season. Grant Gregory overtook him for the entire Big 12 schedule. Snyder mentioned as much after the spring game, and challenged Coffman to keep working.
Also, Klein, a promising sophomore who Snyder had said was playing Coffman even in practices, was held out of the spring game with an undisclosed minor injury. We still don't know how good he his as a signal-caller.
And while Lamur made some bad throws during the spring game, he played almost entirely with the second-team offense. He is clearly the third quarterback in this rotation, but that could change by the time fall practices begin.
Another note to keep in mind here (and of course we are going to go into every detail during the immediate weeks leading up to this game) is that Kevin Prince didn't get a chance to play against these guys after getting knocked out by the Volunteers. I really thought the rhythm of our entire team was disrupted due to Prince's injury and the suspensions to 4 Bruins (Morrell Presley, Randall Carroll, Milton Knox and Courtney Viney) leading up to this game.
It will be interesting to see how we handle this game on the road against a tough home crowd. We better be focused and locked in because you can bet the Wildcats team will not only be jacked up but thoroughly prepared under the leadership of one of the best teachers in this game. I think we will have a decent shot of winning in Manhattan but right now I would consider the Wildcats to be the favorites to win this game.
For the Bruins to win in Manhattan they will need a solid opening act from the rebuilt defensive line. Coach Todd Howard is looking forward to putting together an athletic defensive line led by 6-5, 295 senior David Carter:
"David Carter has the ability to make plays, but he's not Brian Price," Howard said. "He doesn't have the power Brian Price has. But he's taller, he's quick, he's athletic, so he'll be able to make plays."
Howard sees that in all four of his projected starters, three of whom will be first-timers. They're certainly big enough. The average height and weight is 6-4, 280. That might not be the only upgrade from last season's unit.
"They're a lot taller. You hope we can bat down more balls," Howard said. "They're athletic. I think as a whole we're going to be a faster group. I don't think anybody will represent the power that Brian Price had. But we're going to have a more athletic group."
Such versatility allowed Howard to tinker with the lineup throughout spring. He said tackle Nate Chandler could play snaps on the end, while defensive ends Datone Jones and Damien Holmes might see time at tackle.
Given the Bruin's lack of depth, the movement will likely depend on how many of the five incoming freshmen linemen can contribute right away.
"You want to play your best four and your best four after that," Howard said. "If it boils down to where we only have six guys that can play at a Pac-10 level, then you're going to have those six guys (moving between positions)."
We will see how it all works out. I am still hoping Coach Howard will be able to manage his rotation while red-shirting kids like Sealli Epenesa.
Moving over to basketball, found a Q&A featuring incoming JUCO transfer Lazeric Jones. Here is what Jones had to say about how he visualizes his role in the Bruin squad next season:
"Coach Howland has said he wants me to not only create for my team but look for my own shot too. He also wants me to be a leader for this young team and he is really big on my defense."
Jones is a strong point guard with great floor awareness and explosiveness. He's tough, confident, and plays at his own pace. He makes things happen while playing within himself and within the confines of a team offense. While he can knock down the three and midrange shot his strength is getting to the rim where he can finish or draw fouls which is complemented well by his excellent touch from the charity stripe. Lazeric is a strong leader that is also solid defensively.
That all sounds nice but we will have to see how it transpires when he plays D-1 ball next season. At least he sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders. So that is something.
Lastly, we will end this walk with a little comedy:
The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) has named its 12-member Hall of Fame class for 2010. Peter Dalis, who served as Athletic Director at UCLA from 1993 - 2002, is a part of that list.
ROFL. I had no idea one could get into HOF by hiring coaches like Walt Hazzard, Steve Lavin, and Bob Toledo. I had to a double take when I read that note.
Who knew one could get into HOF for ADs by hiring mediocre, average and incompetent head coaches. Who knew one could get into HOF by providing classic examples of pathetic, embarrassingly public head coach "searches" for both football and basketball. Who knew HOF had rooms for visionless and unimaginative bureaucrats who gained their notoriety by flushing down two (not just one) major revenue programs down the toilet at the same time.
Hard for us to offer Dalis congratulations considering how he was essentially responsible for some of the most humiliating moments in the history of UCLA football and basketball. Oh well. Hope he is enjoying his retirement. We are thankful he is not around to screw things up any more.