Hello friends. Unfortunately I have to start this Sunday with a very sad note. I lost a good friend over the weekend. Trip Webster, one of the most die-hard Bruins I have ever met passed away this weekend. Trip was a kind, generous gentleman, who was the ultimate chill Angelino, and always felt blessed for being a Bruin alum. What I appreciated about him was how he was able to maintain perspective on all our downturns, striking the perfect balance between grounded on reality while not giving up. I am really going to miss you Mr. Webster. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
Now on to practice, and Trip would have been very excited to read that a Bruin QB is perhaps showing some signs of getting on bit of a roll. Richard Brehaut for the third consecutive day shined at Spaulding . Coach Rick Neuheisel in his post game debrief described Brehaut's performance as "sharp" and "outstanding" and mentioned that he had a "great day" looking like a QB, who "knew was he was doing." Not surprisingly tradmed outlets like the LA Times and the OC Register picked up on those comments. Brehaut is feeling "comfortable" about the current state of affairs at Spaulding:
"I feel I've shown that I can handle everything that his being thrown at me," he said. "I feel I have come out here every day and really cut down on my mental mistakes and really tried to be a sharp as I can and keep my focus.
"I've shown them that I can handle everything we're putting in, and everything the defense is giving us."
Bruins held a 30 play scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. Peter Yoon posted a rundown of it here. While Kevin Price may not have been "sharp" per Neheisel, according to Yoon's report Prince looked good on the run:
Quarterback Kevin Prince ran the first-team offense and looked sharp in the run game, getting off a couple of nice gains out of the Pistol but struggled a bit with the pass game. He completed two of four passes for -1 yards and had one pass intercepted. Tight end Cory Harkey dropped a well-thrown ball, however, that would have gone for at least a 10-yard gain.
Prince rushed four times for 15 yards, but the first-team offense offense did not score in its two drives. The second ended when Prince set up a screen pass, but linebacker Sean Westgate tipped it and defensive end Datone Jones caught it and ran it back for a touchdown.
He also completed a 30-yard pass to Nelson Rosario, but referees ruled that he had been sacked before he got the throw off (quarterbacks can't be tackled in scrimmages so sacks are judgement calls).
I will try not to get perturbed about the Harkey note. BTW speaking of getting sacked, apparently there was a "teachable moment" yesterday when Brehaut "failed to unload a pass on time and took a virtual sack by a blind-side blitzer during a team drill."
As always, I'd strongly caution anyone to come to any conclusions yet. There are a lot of factors in play here. I think Brehaut is going up against the second team. So he may have a little advantage in terms of the level of competition. Then again, given our depth on the defensive side, that may not be as big of factor. Either way the news about Brehaut coming on strong for three straight days is a positive development as it will only help his confidence, while also push Prince to step it up even more at practice.
Jon Gold was also impressed with the performance of our offense on Saturday:
* Another very good practice highlighted by a sharper, more refined passing game that has taken strides in the last two days. Mike Johnson called it the best passing day the team has had in his tenure.
* Particularly working the outsides well, Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut took a step up in the accuracy and catchability departments, hitting guys out of breaks and with good timing. Since a poor Thursday practice, the wideouts have responded well, particularly Nelson Rosario. In 11s and 7s, I don't recall a drop.
* Still, Devin Lucien is really becoming the highlight of camp. He had a rather innocuous catch on the run, but I noticed the hands especially. He snatched the ball out of the air on a pretty Brehaut pass, and it was all hands, no body. [...]
* Jordon James really is flashing at F-back, and I could see him growing pretty comfortable in that role, especially with Damien Thigpen down. I wonder how James will do with the blocking aspect of the position - he struggled with pass blocking at times last season - but he certainly fits the mold in the finesse department. UCLA opened an 11-on-11 drill with consecutive James possessions, a catch and a run.
* Neuheisel on James: "James is an electric player - kind of what Damien Thigpen brought to the position. It's nice to have some depth there. It's been fun to have him there."
Lucien is reportedly turning heads at practice (see fanshot from MathBruin). The OC Register also profiled the freshman WR, who is making a serious charge in earning a spot in the WR rotation. Hopefully the strong performances of new comers like Lucien and Shaquille Evans will push guys like Nelson Rosario, who needs to feel a sense of urgency at this point of their college career.
Re. the Thigpen note, it sounds like Neuheisel expects him to be back sometime this coming week. Speaking of injury related issues, it sounds like whole bunch of players - Dietrich Riley, Joe Fauria, Jared Koster Jerry Johnson and Nick Crissman - came down with a case of "food poisoning" yesterday (although Neuheisel mentioned that it may have been a case of "flu"). Here is Riley's description:
"I don't know where it came from," Riley said. "It hit around one o'clock last night. I only got two hours of sleep and it was kind of rough. It's my first experience dealing with this."
Tight end Joe Fauria, who earlier said via Twitter that he had been in the bathroom with his pillow at 3 a.m., skipped the morning session but returned for the afternoon and scored the only touchdown in a mini-scrimmage.
Hope Fauria can also catch those TDs on Saturdays. Neuheisel expects all the guys back along with the ones who had been nicked up before for Monday's practice. Speaking of returning, it sounds like freshman QB Brett Hundley is getting "closer to practicing." That is good news, although I don't see any reason for rushing him back.
Bruins get back into it tomorrow with another 2 a day. They will have their first round in the morning from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. and then finish up in the evening from 4:00-6:00 p.m. As always if you are out near Westwood, please check out the practice sessions and then come back and share your impressions, notes ... and of course we love pictures.