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Spaulding Roundup: Short Term & Long Term Storylines

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Let’s start with the short term storyline. Marcia Smith (the famed football analyst from the OC Register) joins group of Bruin fans who are demanding CRN and Chow start Forcier for the next game.

For their next game on Nov. 8 against Oregon State, the Bruins should take a chance and give the start to Chris Forcier, the quick, raw, shaggy-haired, free-wheeling, redshirt freshman playmaker. It's time for bold moves, not old moves.

I will not link to her article because we have a policy of not linking to proven concern trolls from the local MSM. Laughably Marcia (or what appears to be Marcia) is flacking her own "column" on BRO message board (click on the graphic to enlarge):

Marcia

Hope she doesn't try that transparent spamming technique here on BN.

The fact that a predictable concern troll like Marcia is out there pining for Forcier (trying to split up the Bruin fan base) gives me more reason to support whatever Chow and Neuheisel decided based on their discussions and practice observations next couple of weeks. Right now I don’t have any preference whatsoever in terms of who should be starting next week. What I can do is share is observations from some impeccable sources I have depended on over years, who to say the least were not impressed at all in terms of Forcier's throwing ability from spring and late summer practices this season. May be Forcier has improved since the practices became closed or may be hasn’t. However, I think given Chow and Neuheisel’s record in developing quarterbacks, I think everyone needs to take a deep breath from the ongoing hypevertillating conversation re. who should be the QB next game. Don't get me wrong. I don't see anything wrong with offering up thoughtful analysis re current QB situation (based on data points we have seen from the games). However, I think we have to keep in mind we don't have all the information from close practices at our disposal.

The bottom line is fairly simple for our offense. If we want to get it going, it will have to start with steady play from our frontline, which needs to generate a recognizable running attack. Right now as Kahlil Bell admitted himself, the running game is not getting it done:

UCLA was bottled up yet again on Saturday, continuing a disturbing trend of a complete inability to run the football, and Bell admitted that until the offense finds a way to move the ball on the ground, the losses likely would keep piling up for this young Bruin team being forced to learn on the job.

"I don't know," said Bell, UCLA's frustrated starting tailback. "We have to find a way to run the rock somehow. We're putting too much pressure on our defense, we're putting too much pressure on our quarterback and receivers to make plays.

"I don't know what we're going to do, but whatever we do, we have to figure out a way to run this rock."

Against Cal's defense on Saturday, the Bruins managed just 16 rushing yards on 22 carries. Bell had 5 yards on a team-high six attempts. The leading rushers were backup quarterback Chris Forcier (one carry, 6 yards) and backup tailback Derrick Coleman, who had four rushes for 6 yards.

So for the Bruins to get back on track, it will have to start with generating a decent running game against Oregon State. The good news is that we get a much needed bye this upcoming weekend. Hopefully that will give an opportunity for the bruised and battered OL and RBs to get some much needed rest, and come back reenergized and ready to go the following weekend against a good Oregon State defense.

Meanwhile, as for QBs, I have more than enough confidence in Chow and Neuheisel’s ability to make a calculated and well informed (based on vigorous discussions and full data from practice observations and game films) decision re. who will start the following weekend. Yes, I realize from their public statements it seems like Chow is leaning towards sticking with Craft, while RN is open to exploring another option. However, I don’t see anything wrong with having intellectually honest disagreement among our staff. If anything it will make RN’s ultimate decision that much more well informed. We will see how it plays out. I don’t think it is worth it to beat ourselves over it, especially if we have no clue (like Chow or RN) about Forcier’s throwing ability based on practice observations.

Those were the short term storylines. Let’s end today’s roundup with the long term stuff. We have some great news from the recruiting front:

UCLA received an expected commitment from Punahou of Honolulu tailback Dalton Hilliard, and the Bruins' 2009 class will grow by another today when teammate Roby Toma, a receiver, commits to Neuheisel. Hilliard made the decision after returning from a trip to Arizona.

"I just got back from my Arizona trip and got to compare another Pac-10 school (with UCLA),'' Hilliard said. "I was just looking at everything, all the different parts of the recruiting process, and I think UCLA has the most to offer in terms of location, education, and a top-notch program that's about to explode.

Hilliard also had offers from Nebraska and Arizona.

Toma was being recruiting by West Point, but said he will call Neuheisel and accept an offer. "I'm going to do it (today),'' Toma said. "They told me I can play the slot, and that was my biggest concern.''

Welcome to both Hillard and Toma. It sure seems like our recruiting class is starting to come together (despite some of the concern trolling re. RN’s recruiting efforts from predictable quarters this past off season). Here are some Hilliard highlights from Punahou:

Dalton Hilliard Football Highlights take two (via puns619)

We already have Dean, Knox and Coleman in the fold. With Hilliard in the roster our TB position is now getting all stacked up. Our WRs are developing well this season. Once we stack our OLs in next 2-3 years, we will be in great shape with either Prince, Brehaut or Crissman calling the signals in coming seasons at the Rose Bowl.

Here is the full list of commits to date. We have 11 commitments to date with more to come before signing day. From what I am reading it seems like we are doing well with some key OL recruits, who will hopefully get on board by February.

So there you go. Things are looking pretty good in Westwood. We are in good shape on the recruiting front, and as for the short term, I actually think we have a shot at a good finish if we can get a little healthy this bye week, and come out reenergized and refocused at the Rose Bowl on November 8th.

For now let’s hope the team gets a little rest and focus on getting healthy this coming bye weekend. Then next week they can focus and get ready for another tough opponent at the Rose Bowl.

GO BRUINS.