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Spaulding Roundup: Trick-or-Treat

CRN and his coaches will be trick-or-treating with recruits all over California and across the Pacific. David Wharton from the LA Times reports on UCLA’s big recruiting weekend:

"Big weekend for us," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We'll be out in earnest all day tomorrow and junior college recruiting on Saturday."

Junior college transfers could be of immediate help, but it remains to be seen how much leeway the university will allow in terms of admissions.

Defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will be in the San Francisco Bay Area. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow will travel a little farther, flying to his native Hawaii. […]

Punahou is the alma mater of Chow and presidential candidate Barack Obama. More to the point, it is the current home of highly sought linebacker Manti Te'o, who has drawn interest from other programs, including USC.

We talked about our new pipeline from Hawaii earlier this week. I will reiterate it will be nothing short of stunning if Chow is able to reel in Te’o by going up against BYU (the assumed favorite), Notre Dame and Southern Cal. At this point IMHO the connections Chow and RN have established to Hawaii prep scene go beyond Te’o. It bodes well for the long term for UCLA’s recruiting.

As for our next game, the LA reports coaches tried out some elements of their game plan for Oregon State during yesterday’s practice but they will wait to go at in full throttle mode until next Tuesday:

Thursday's practice gave the Bruins a taste of their game plan for Oregon State on Nov. 8.

"It was kind of experimental, whether we want to use it or not," Neuheisel said. "We felt like we had the luxury of trying some stuff."

That makes sense. Bye week at this time of year is always good opportunity to catch up in terms of focusing on fundamentals and also get a chance to heal from the bumps and bruises from the first half of the season.

Moving on, Dohn was searching for some "drama" out of Spaulding and he did his best to come up with some in an interview with Aundre Dean, the freshman RB from Texas. As many of you know Dean has been hurt by ankle injury this season and hasn’t gotten much playing time. He is a probably a kid who is a little home sick being far away from Texas, so Dohn probed hard in trying to get Dean to use the word "transfer". In response Dean said he is "pretty sure" he will be back next season:

"I'm pretty sure I will be, but we'll see how it goes," Dean said. "I'm working right now. That's all I can do right now, and finish out the year. Work, work, work. That's all I can say. I don't want anybody to say I didn't work hard, so that's what I'm doing right now, working my butt off. It's way down the road. I have no idea (about transferring)."

Dean was the most highly touted of UCLA's four freshman running backs. Milton Knox and Johnathan Franklin are redshirting, and Derrick Coleman emerged as starter Kahlil Bell's backup.

UCLA's staff was hesitant to use Dean early because he was having difficulty with the blocking schemes, but he said that wasn't the case.

"If that's what they see, that's what they see," said Dean, who rushed for 2,491 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Katy (Texas) High. "Then that's just something I have to work on and get better at."

Even with Bell nursing a still-sprained ankle and UCLA's chances of gaining bowl eligibility dwindling, Dean said he could not get a read on whether an opportunity to play was coming.

"The only thing I can do is just keep working," Dean said. "I can't control (getting an opportunity to play). I keep working hard, keep a smile on my face and keep doing the best I can. That's it."

Hmm. I think this is much ado about nothing. I will trust the coaching staff in their emphasis on using backs who understand the emphasis on blocking schemes. In a year like this when we are working with a patchwork (and often hobbled) OL and inexperienced QB, it is imperative for our RB to provide everything they can in the area of protecting the QB.

What is happening to Dean in terms of playing time is not unique. Both at college and at the pro level freshman/rookie RBs often don’t get to break in right away because of not being able to adjust to the blocking schemes at a new level. I think if Dean proves himself during practices with his ability to focus in all aspects of the game, Neueheisel, Chow and rest of UCLA staff will not waste any opportunity to get him in the game.

Also, it’s not unusual for a kid from out of state to get home sick in their freshman year. Folks can look up articles re. Earl Watson from his freshman year re. how he wasn’t sure about coming back to UCLA for his sophomore year. Let’s hope Dean puts his head down and keep working during practices because if he proves himself at Spaulding, I have no doubt he will get his opportunities to shine at the Rose Bowl.

Lastly, don’t forget this re. trick-or-treaters for tonight:

ESPN UCLA Halloween Commerical (via BBRVideos)

Happy Halloween.