After conducting a full scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, the Bruins returned to the practice field yesterday for another Spring practice session. After the generally praised scrimmage, the team came out flat on Monday in pretty much a team effort.
First the sad news. As firstto100 shared with us last night, former Bruin offensive coordinator Homer Smith passed away over the weekend. Before talking to the media after practice, Coach Neuheisel described the importance that Smith had to his career, and to his life - Neuheisel played under Smith in the early 80's, and coached alongside him with the Bruins a decade later.
Terry Donahue and Homer Smith are the reason I'm standing in front of this camera right now, and I just miss Homer already," Neuheisel said. "He was an unbelievable inspiration to me as a coach and as a guy who mentored me in the coaching profession, and I am forever indebted to him."
In the wake of this tragic news - as full a life as Homer lived - there was still work to be done on the field. Neuheisel was disappointed, but not surprised that the team came out sluggish on Monday, with plenty of missed throws by Brehaut and Hundley, dropped passes and hesitant runs. As Neuheisel told the assembled media after practice, the Bruins cannot afford days like that.
"But I just got done telling the team that if we all want to go where we all say we want to go, we've got to get through that," Neuheisel said. "We can't just be like every other team and say that, 'Well, we scrimmaged on Saturday, so we're not quite feeling like it.' "
How do the Bruins capture the necessary intensity?
"It's leadership," Neuheisel said. "It's guys on the team understanding that these days are precious and not to be survived but to be [thought of as], how do we go out and play a game every day even though we're not playing a game? … That's a quality that the great teams possess."
There were some positives to takeaway from the session, particularly from the backfield. Johnathan Franklin and Jordon James broke a few nice runs, and Anthony Barr may be getting a look at running back.
Neuheisel: "He's a comfortable-looking athlete regardless of where he is. Sometimes I think he's almost too smooth. We just want to make sure we're getting everything we can out of him and that he's fulfilling his full potential."
Of course, it would not be another afternoon on Spaulding Field without more injuries to report...Yesterday, it was tight end John Young who got bit, dislocating his left shoulder - Young redshirted the 2010 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in the same shoulder. Neuheisel sounded confident that Young would be able to return to action soon, while Young himself did not seem as much so.
In other injury news, Tony Dye sat out of practice with a bruised knee, but is not expected to miss much time. Todd Golper suffered a minor shoulder sprain that could keep him out of the next couple of practices, while Kevin Prince and Shaquelle Evans saw action in 7-on-7 drills.
Several pieces by the local beat writers today on particular Bruin players looking to earn a role in 2011. Jon Gold writes about Connor Bradford's promotion up the depth chart in the wake of injuries to multiple projected starters on the offensive line. Ben Bolch looks at the advice and influence that Kai Forbath and Jeff Locke have had on the development of the team's projected placekicker - and Forbath's replacement - Kip Smith, while Adam Maya takes on Morrell Presley's move back to Tight End, and up the depth chart.
"It feels like a new start," Presley said. "I'm getting my grades up and starting to catch the eyes of the coaches again. I'm trying to stay on this right path."
The Bruins return to the practice field this afternoon.