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Spaulding Roundup: Searching For (A Nonexistent) Drama

Looks like Brian Dohn the traditional media in LA is acting up again looking for a story when a story really doesn’t exist. Most of us have gotten tired and bored with camera shots following a Craft interception or bone head plays (ok we are getting tired of the interceptions and bonehead plays as well), in which CRN and Craft are engaged in a one-sided passionate discussion on the sideline. IMHO those shots were intriguing earlier in the season, when lot of us discovered what it feels like to have a head coach who doesn’t stand like a statute on the sidelines, and instead coaches his heart out and stays involved in all aspects of the game.

It’s clear that despite those much ballyhooed discussions CRN and his legendary OC – Norm Chow – are sticking with the kid, despite producing numbers (i.e. 0 TDs and 9 Ints in last 3 games) that would have gotten anyone else benched a while ago. They know this kid up to this point has been their best option based on their observations during practices and are sticking with him. Yet, despite all that the Daily News Dohn uncorks a story today looking for conflict/drama in our football program, when there is not much there there.

Apparently Dohn Doug Paddilla, a staff write of the Daily News went to Tom Craft, Kevin’s Dad (who is a former offensive coach) and got some fatherly quotes about how he hasn’t appreciated the way his son been treated at UCLA:

"It's hard for me to watch the physical pounding and the abuse he takes, a lot of times not even getting a chance to go to a second and third progression," said Tom Craft, an associate head football coach at Mt. San Antonio College. "And then I hear how they want him to go to the second progression. Well, that isn't even possible at times. It's unrealistic.

"And then when he gets yelled at, it's very difficult to watch that as a coach and as a father because I know what he is going through and I am shocked that they aren't seeing what they are going through."

The Bruins' offensive line has been in tatters this season, but Tom Craft doesn't want to point fingers. The running game has been mostly absent, with Kahlil Bell hobbled by an early-season injury, but Tom Craft prefers to focus on his son.

"He's been 70 percent of the offense in most cases," Tom Craft said. "He can perform under stress extremely well and has brought them from behind in two games. He totally got punished in (the Stanford) game and he was very upset because for all his efforts, once in a while a good pat on the back would be good."

Hmm. I agree with Mr. Craft that his son and our offense would be better off if we had a credible running game and an offensive line that could give him some time. However, at the same time watching our games this season, it was clear it me in many instances Craft did have time to throw (when he threw those picks) and still tried forced the issue by trying it to force it to his primary receiver or throw it straight to the opposing team. Moreover, the issues with offensive line, doesn’t explain some of the bonehead (I can’t think of a better term) he has made while scrambling. He has thrown inexplicable shovel passes pretending to be John Elway. That is on Kevin Craft.

Anyway, CRN to his credit, didn’t take Dohn’s Doug's bait when asked about Craft’s comment and addressed the issue in a classy way:

"Just like people who make watches, they may differ on how to make the watch. As long as it tells time, everybody is happy, right?" Neuheisel said. "I think quarterback coaches see ... the best way to go about things, but they can do it in different ways.

"Tom's been great in his ability to stay separate, to stay removed. I certainly respect and admire all he did as a quarterback coach and as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach."

Moreover, CRN diffused the whole story by pointing to how he understands what Mr. Craft is going through as a father of a QB:

"First of all, having a son of my own that is now competing at another level as a sophomore in high school, I would never, ever want Tom Craft to think Kevin Craft is anything other than perfect," Neuheisel said. "That's his boy. And I certainly am only trying to be helpful.

"He's playing for UCLA, so it's not as though I don't like him. I think he's wonderful and we're lucky to have him."

The bottom line Dohn Doug and all other journalists in the traditional media need to chill out and find another storyline than to write about CRN-Craft interaction in the sidelines. There is nothing extra ordinary about exchanges between a passionate head coach (who is former Rose Bowl winning QB and has a proven track record of mentoring some of the best ever in this game) trying to coach up a young mistake prone QB. That’s how CRN coached his QBs in Colorado and in Washington with pretty solid results. It sure appears that Kevin Craft is fine with it and persevering through it and if he is fine with it, then not sure why Dohn Doug and other folks in the traditional media need to keep beating on a dead horse.

Anyway, it looks like CRN and Chow might have another option than Kevin Craft. Per Dohn’s report today Forcier has had some good practices in last two weeks:

A month ago, UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Forcier was incorporated into the Stanford game plan because of his running ability, but he has been criticized by the coaching staff for not having a better understanding of the playbook.

However, his improved understanding of the offense has allowed him to perform well in practice lately, and the coaching staff's comfort level in him increased greatly.

"He's played well in the last few weeks," Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "He seems to have a better grasp of what we're trying to do. You feel better about using him if you have to."

Whether it means starting quarterback Kevin Craft, who has thrown nine interceptions and no touchdowns in his past three games, could be pulled if he has another poor performance Friday at Arizona State remains to be seen.

However, Forcier said he has spent more time watching film and going over his playbook lately.

"I'm catching the little things, in terms of making checks, reading the right people, and knowing what the defense is doing, so then I know what I have to do," Forcier said. "Our plays are based on what the defenses are doing, and we have multiple checks during the play. Now, I can check it and get in a better fit.

Hopefully Forcier’s improved performance in practice means it will put some more competitive pressure on Craft to perform better in game situations.

Elsewhere, the UCLA DL took note of number of sacks given up by ASU this season:

This fall, the Sun Devils rank near the bottom of the Pacific 10 Conference, giving up 28 sacks.

Watching videotape of Arizona State's loss to Georgia earlier this season, UCLA defensive tackle Brigham Harwell saw that Carpenter becomes far less effective when forced to rush his throws.

"We have to do what they did," Harwell said of the Georgia defense. "They made him uncomfortable."

But Neuheisel said he would be judicious in using blitz packages against the senior quarterback.

At the same time, it would be deadly to let a senior quarterback get in rhythm early in the game.

In other note, Micah Kia will be starting at LG to replace the injured Darius Savage. Kia will start but also expect Scott Glicksberg to get some time at that position as well. Glicksberg took over after Savage went down in Washington, but due to injury issues coaches don’t want to use him for 60-70 plays for an entire game. So they will try a package deal with Kia-Glicksberg. We will see how that works out.


UPDATE - N: As has been pointed in the comment section Brian Dohn wasn't the author of the article concerning Tom Craft. It was written by Doug Padilla, a "staff writer" from the Daily News.