Before we get to the football news, want to remind everyone that today is a double header Tuesday in Westwood. Our football team gets back in action this afternoon at 4 pm out in Spaulding. After spending couple of hours checking in with the football team you can then head over to Jackie Robinson Stadium to take in our baseball game against Cal State Fullerton. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 pm PST. The full details for the double header days this spring are available here.
As for football news if you are heading out to Spaulding keep an eye out to see whether Kai Maiava and Joe Fauria return to practice. Both of them were dinged up a little during first week. Coach Rick Neuheisel is looking forward to getting Fauria back in action (when he is available):
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel is hoping to have tight end Joe Fauria back by Tuesday but the unpredictability of a groin injury could make the wait longer.
Fauria injured his groin on the first day of spring practice and has not practiced since. If the injury doesn't heal completely, he could be susceptible to more groin problems. [...]
"He's a great pass receiver and he's such a big target," Neuheisel said of his 6-foot-7 redshirt sophomore. "Obviously I would like to see more of him. One day is not something you can judge it all on. Watching him last fall as he went through his redshirt season, there was enough to think that there was a lot of promise."
One guy who has been getting an early start this spring is incoming freshman Wade Yandall, who enrolled early this spring (guess he is not an "incoming freshman" any more). Yandall (6-4,300 lbs) who is a solid student graduated early from Carson HS and enrolled early to get a "head start" at UCLA. Sounds like he is doing ok in class but it's on the football field where he is going through an expected adjustment period:
"It's a tough adjustment, I'm not going to lie," he said. "The school part is easy. Football so far has been tough. I'm going against humongous guys but I'll be up there soon.
"They're fast and super strong."
Yandall isn't discouraged at all. He plans to put in the work needed to catch up with his teammates. Plus he's been getting encouragement from guys like Richard Brehaut (an early-arrival last season), and Morrell Presley, a former teammate from Carson.
Even Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow have been supportive.
"We were running (last) Monday and I kind of died," Yandall said of one of his early conversations with Neuheisel. "He said, ‘Don't worry. I didn't recruit you just for the next couple of months. I recruited you for the whole duration of your scholarship."
It is very cool to hear Brehaut and Pressley stepping up to help the kind out. I can't help thinking of J.P. Losman every time I read about a freshman enrolling early. Although Losman was an anomaly at the time his experienced was marred by stories with two sides. On one side we heard stories about kid with a huge sense of entitlement and on the other we heard about a kid who felt unwelcome by rest of the team. It was not a healthy situation. Thankfully we didn't see that repeat with kids like Brehaut and Pressley, who in turn are helping the transition process for kids like Yandall. There is definitely a different vibe around this program under CRN.
There's a vibe connected with UCLA's football program that has people thinking around southern California that the Bruins' time may be here sooner than later.
Boosted by offensive coordinator Norm Chow's decision to stay on board -- and turn down any deal to work on new USC Coach Lane Kiffin's staff -- UCLA began spring practice with plenty of momentum and confidence Thursday at Spaulding Field.
That is from Lonnie's spring preview on the Bruins, which also includes interesting observations from Chow about how the coaches had been forced to use freshmen (due to talent gap created under the previous regime):
"Even when you watch college basketball, there are some teams with freshmen playing key roles but for most of the winning teams in the tournament, there's usually a strong core of senior leadership," Chow said.
"That's where we have to get to the point where freshmen do not have to play for us."
As an example, Chow pointed to Xavier Su' a-Filo. In 2009, Su' a-Filo started at left tackle and was regarded as one of the nation's top freshmen offensive linemen.
As good as Su' a-Filo played, Chow said the Bruins' program should have been strong and deep enough to keep him from being forced into action in his first year.
"He started for us from day one last year," Chow said about Su' a-Filo, who is serving a two-year LCS Mormon mission in Tallahassee, Fla.
"He's going to be a great, great football player but he should not have been forced to play as a freshman. We now live in a world where people are not patient. That makes things tough.
"But we're getting there."
Perhaps Chow can have a conversation with Ben Howland and brain storm about how UCLA hoops can retain talented players (who are solid but not lottery picks) in the caliber of Singler, Scheyer, and Smith for three or four years in the program (instead of usually losing them as soon as they get a whiff of the NBA). Anyway, that's a whole another topic for another day perhaps.
Going back to football the National Football Post just did its own spring preview of UCLA. Also, Ted Miller has been doing a lot of cookie cutter posts on his Pac-10 blog at tWWL. His last one on UCLA was part of a series looking at potential lineup holes that are important even if they don't make headlines. He zeroed in on Bosworth brothers: defensive end Korey and weak side linebacker Kyle. Nothing new in those pieces but it is always good to get quick refreshers.