Let's start our Thursday walk with notes from the diamonds. Ryan will probably have more detailed preview of our last home series against Washington State later. In the meantime, let's check in with Ralph who posted his preview of UCLA's (41-12) weekend's big series against the 3rd place Cougars (33-18) featuring interview with Coach John Savage:
Bruins are coming off yet another loss against Cal State Fullerton, while the Cougars are rolling in with an impressive 7 game winning streak (HT CougCenter). I am guessing if the Bruins want to nail down their bid to host a super-regional (if they can get to that stage), they need to at least win the series.
It is going to be a tough against a team playing so well with great pitching towards the end of the season. Hopefully Savage and his crew are in a tourney mindset when they come out at JRS on Friday night. More after the jump.
Speaking of hitting and pitching, the softball team will be hosting Louisiana-Lafayette in the Super Regionals this weekend. Here is Ralph in his second appearance in our roundup:
Game 1 of the series will be on Saturday at 6 p.m. Game 2 will be played on Sunday at either 12:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. and Game 3 (if necessary) will be played at either 3 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. All games will be aired on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. The official site will also provide Gametracker and live audio. More details on the series here.
Moving over to football let's start with the transfer news on Milton Knox:
"I had dreams and aspirations of one day playing in the NFL," Knox said. "It's just a numbers game. There's nothing wrong with UCLA, I don't have any beef with the program. It's not like I'm mad at anyone.
"It's a business decision, man. Some of my family isn't happy with it. Some of them don't want me to leave but right now I have to do what's best for me." [...]
"Some people say I didn't get a fair shot, some people say I did," Knox said. "I can't really sit up here and say that I didn't get a fair shot. Things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. It's nothing against the coaches. Right now, they have to go where it feels right.
"Unfortunately, I got the short end of the stick."
Knox said his decision wasn't easy, particularly given family health issues and the close proximity to home. Knox, who originally chose UCLA over Notre Dame, hasn't spoken to other teams but said he'd prefer to transfer to a Mountain West or Western Athletic Conference program so he can stay on the West Coast.
"Yeah, it was a difficult decision," he said. "My father just had an amputation of his foot. He's a main reason why I came to UCLA. I really made a sacrifice for my family, and now I'd be doing a sacrifice for myself if I stayed.
"I don't want to say that I'm selfish, but at the same time I have to be. Hopefully, the school I go to, I'll be given the opportunity. Maybe I can fulfill my dreams somewhere else."
We will all root for Knox to fulfill his dreams. Best of luck to him. As for his transfer news Gold broke the story yesterday, but it was MexiBruin who tipped us off on this development last week. So this was not much of a surprise.
This is part of big time college football. Transfers happen. Hopefully Knox will end up in a system that will be better fit for his skillset. Knox is an athletic player but in UCLA scheme given the issues we have with our OL, coaches rightfully put premium on pass protection. In last two years they set the pecking order in depth chart taking into account who is most adept in providing protection for our QBs. Chane Moline, JetSki and Coleman were always a step ahead in that area (relatively speaking) so they ended up getting bulk of the carries.
In terms of near future JetSki and Coleman didn't bust out of the pack this spring but they remained ahead of the pack. There is also Damien Thigpen whose speed and agility made him a potential contributor as an F-Back. We do have Malcolm Jones and Jordon James coming in. We will also have Dietrich Riley who might get a shot in Chow's wildcat formations. There is also Anthony Barr, who could potentially be a good fit as an F-Back in the pistol formation UCLA tried out this spring. So we have lot of options and it is a really good problem to have.
I don't envision UCLA to have the same issues Cheatey Petey did because well ... it's kind of simple ... Norm Chow is not a sleazeball and he will be direct and honest with guys in terms of what he is looking for in his offensive scheme. Moreover, if a player emerges as an every down back in the mold of Skip Hicks, Deshaun Foster or MJD, I am sure the coaches will set their rotation accordingly. In the meantime, nothing wrong with having competition. It is up to the players to produce during practice field and then make the best of their chances when they are put in the game (while staying out of trouble off the field).
Knox's transfer also opens up a scholarship which will help the UCLA coaches who were working with a limited number of available spots (I believe with Knox's transfer we now have somewhere between 12-15 spots available).
Elsewhere, ESPN's Ted Miller previewed UCLA's non-conference schedule featuring Kansas State, Houston and Texas. Nothing really new from him. He states the obvious which is it wouldn't be a shocker if the Bruins go 0-3 against that schedule, however a 2-1 record from those three outings would be a "springboard" for a "breakthrough" season.
I will gladly take 1-2 record from those games if we can also hold serve against Stanford in the second game of the season. If UCLA comes out of their first four weeks with a 2-2 record, I think we could be well set up for a productive season.