clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spaulding Roundup: ASU Notes & Coaching News

I will start with an ominous number as we head into this Friday’s game following bye week. Our guys have been blasted by a score of 93-6 in two games coming out of bye weeks this year against BYU and Oregon State. For that to change this Friday, Bruins will need a steady performance from Kevin Craft which we haven’t seen the entire season. Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise has the following notes on CRN hoping that Craft can stretch the field:

UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft has thrown for 2,048 yards this season but is averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt and has just 19 completions (out of 350 attempts) of 20 or more yards.

Neuheisel has often criticized him for his inability to go to his second and third reads on plays, and Craft has shown a tendency to look more comfortable in the short passing game.

Neuheisel said Monday that part of the problem was that the Bruins' revolving door at offensive line has made it difficult to protect long enough for Craft to do seven-step drops and throw the deep ball.

"He's capable of it," Neuheisel said. "I would not call his arm an overly strong arm, but it's an accurate and flexible arm that can do these things with the ball. It's just a matter of getting it off in the right timing."

Well for KC to stretch the field he will need his OL to provide credible protection and generate a semblance of running game. It would also help if KC can eliminate some of the surreal plays he has tried to make this season while scrambling out of the pocket (for i.e. the shovel pass he attempted while scrambling towards the end zone in Washington that resulted in a near pick). I think KC has a decent arm but as CRN said it’s a matter of making the right reads, with right timing and not locking into his first option like he has done numerous times this season.

On the other side of the ball, ASU’s Dennis Erickson showered the Bruin DL with praise this week:

"They are as good as any defense we've seen," Erickson said.

Friday night means a lot to both teams in that they need to win the remainder of their games to become bowl eligible. Both teams also are coming off victories.

The Sun Devils, led by senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, were expected to have a good season but, like UCLA, have not played well up front.

They did, however, score 39 and 31 points in their last two games, against Washington and Washington State, respectively. Erickson expects UCLA to be tougher, especially for a Sun Devils offense that is giving up almost three sacks a game.

Erickson singled out the play of UCLA defensive tackles Brigham Harwell and Brian Price.

"If you're good in the middle, like they are, and penetrate and create problems, that's where it starts," he said. "They have a lot of experience in their front seven, and their secondary has played well for them."

It will be imperative for Price and Harwell to set the tone early on Friday night. ASU’s OL has been struggling somewhat through this season. If our guys let the Sun Devils gain some confidence in the trenches early on that could be sign of trouble.

Elsewhere, today on the coaching front, Dohn has a scathing report on Karl Dorrell, criticizing the former Bruin head coach for wasting first years of number of Bruin football players, Dohn calls out Dorrell for wasting freshmen seasons of OLs like Chris Joseph (the Rhodes Scholar), Brian Abraham, whose freshmen year was wasted in field goal units and extra point situation. Dohn writes that lot of the depth problem our current staff is dealing with results from Dorrell’s incompetent roster management that goes beyond handling the OL:

Dorrell's questionable decisions extended beyond the offensive line, and past the what-could-have-been category. It could also have a large impact on the next fewseasons.

Strong safety Bret Lockett, a first-year starter, had a rough beginning to the season, but has settled into the starting position in the last month. Lockett said the experience he is gaining this year would have benefited him in the offseason, and he would be a markedly better player as a fifth-year senior.

However, a fifth year is not an option because he spent his freshman season as a member of UCLA's kickoff coverage and kickoff return teams. His only action on defense was four snaps in a 63-21 win against Rice in the second game of the season.

"I wish I could say, `No, I don't regret that,' but I wish I had another season," Lockett said. "Every game I look at it. I think, man, this is the last time I get to do this, last time I get to do that. There's a lot of pressure. I think it was the last (four plays) of the game."

Bruins junior receiver Terrence Austin faces a similar issue. Although he received more playing time at his position than any of the aforementioned players, he said he was never given the opportunity to redshirt.

"I really wish I did because looking at (current freshman) Nelson (Rosario) and Antwon (Moutra), both of those guys have played in almost every game. I may have played half the season," Austin said.

"I didn't get any reps in practice. We basically just had a freshman period where we just all scrimmaged the plays we learned that day."

And I wonder why this community was castigated as bunch “haters”? While Dohn and others are catching up with reality after the damage has been done, rest of us were writing and calling out the individual of gutting a football program as it was happening.

Anyway, let’s get back to present. As CRN and his staff are slowly working out of the Dorrell created mess in Westwood, Walker’s name is showing up wrt to number of head coaching vacancies:

"I'm excited for him, and I know it's an exciting time in a coach's life (to be considered for a head job), and I certainly would help in any way I could," Neuheisel said. "That being said, I'd also advise him, for what it's worth because he doesn't need to listen to me, that there are great opportunities and there are less than great opportunities. I just hope that he gets exactly what he wants."

A few of the job openings Walker could become involved with are San Diego State, New Mexico, Syracuse, Utah State and Wyoming.

Others are expected to open as well, but there is also a chance Walker remains at UCLA. He was a finalist for the UCLA job Neuheisel got, and signed a two-year deal to remain as the defensive coordinator.

"I'm real happy at UCLA," Walker said. "They have been good to me and my family, but any coach who's been coaching for more than 20 years would like an opportunity to run their own program."

I wish Walker luck. Hopefully whatever he decides to do, the situation and timing works out well for him. I personally hope he gets to stick around for one or two more years, and move on with even better and more high profile options at hand. Yet, if he thinks he is ready, no one will stand in his way. 

For now though, he will definitely help his case if his defense can continue its last total performance against Washington, by putting together a great showing on national TV this Friday night.