clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spaulding Roundup: Craft's Courage & Other "Beat SC" Week Notes

We will start this Humpday edition of Spaulding Roundup with a note on Kevin Craft. His coaches and his team-mates are rallying behind him:

If people watch the games, they would realize he takes a butt-kicking every single game," Bell said. "But he keeps getting up."

Arizona State returned three interceptions and a Craft fumble for touchdowns Friday in a 34-9 win over the Bruins, and Craft says he wants to rectify UCLA's 4-7 season when it faces USC on Saturday.

"I'm going to be harder on myself than anybody is," Craft said. "If I come to the side and get yelled at, I'm harder on myself than any of that. I want it just as bad." […]

Teammates and Coach Rick Neuheisel expressed admiration for Craft's weathering season-long criticism, for not pointing fingers and for wanting to improve.

"As a football coach, it's not good enough," Neuheisel said of the performance of Craft, who has had 12 passes intercepted in his last four games with no touchdowns. "We can't play quarterback that way and be successful and be the team we want to be. But as a person who's played the position and a person who admires courage and so forth, I can't tell you enough how much I admire Kevin Craft."

One of the reasons I love the college game so much more than the pros is the feeling of real emotions and passion that I have never sensed in the NFL. Here is a kid who has been subjected to so much pain on the field and ridicule off the field, yet somehow, someway he has managed to not exude any negative vibe the entire season.

Lot of people (justifiably frustrated during those maddening pick-6s and TOs) have called Craft the worst QB ever to put on a Bruin uniform. Well there is no question he has ways to go in terms of emerging as a serviceable QB (and he might next year … we will see how spring ball and Fall practice turns out). But I will take a kid like Craft over someone like Matt Moore, who at the first sign of adversity went public re. his frustrations with playing time. I will take Craft over a kid like Bret Johnson, who not only pouted when he was clearly beaten out by a superior talent in Tommy Maddox, but transferred out and then turned his entire family against our program. And I will also take a kid like Craft over QBs like Ryan Fien, Rob Walker who never showed half the courage Craft has shown this year playing behind this offensive line. Rob Walker had the luxury to QB behind a line featuring the likes of Ogden and Parker. As for Craft, you know the story.

I have no idea right now how Craft will perform on Saturday. It is certainly encouraging to hear how his team-mates are rallying behind him. We will see how it works out … after all if he and our entire team was going to quit … they would have done it after the 4 interceptions he threw against Tennessee or following 0-59.

As for the team, no doubt they are hearing the ridicule and snickers that is taking place all around LA and around the country. They are not saying much this game week:

Through clenched smiles, UCLA players said it did not matter that USC coach Pete Carroll was willing to waste a timeout per half so the Trojans could wear cardinal jerseys for Saturday's game against the blue-jersey clad Bruins.

And through those clenched smiles, and with balled up fists, several players talked about a gag order on making potentially inflammatory comments about the fifth-ranked Trojans.

"The home uniforms aren't going to make us play harder. It's not going to make them give the game to us," UCLA fifth-year senior defensive tackle Brigham Harwell said. "I wish I could tell you something, but I can't. Put it this way: We're ready for a fight on Saturday."

While CRN is calmly addressing all the nonsense around that monopoly ad:

"If anything, it was premature," Neuheisel said. "But, it's out there, and I stand behind it. Certainly, we're not backing down from that's what we want to have happen, and what we're working towards." […]

Neuheisel said he can see the monopoly coming to an end, first through recruiting and then through developing the players.

"Yeah, absolutely, because I'm on the phone," he said. "I get to hear the conversations (with recruits). It's terrific.

"I would say we'll be a lot closer next year, and then in two years we'll be viable. And I say that because it's a strength issue. We need to get stronger, and a year from now we're still going to be dealing with a lot of freshmen and sophomores.

"Two years from now it will be sophomores and juniors, and then I believe we'll be very, very competitive."

BTW article also mentioned how CRN found out about that ad after his wife saw it in the paper and called him to let him know about. Yet that hasn't stopped people from smearing him over it.

I guess that simple idea of “patience” will be lost on many people, just like it was until the Gonzaga game during Ben Howland era. The bandwagon wasn’t exactly the way it is today until we experienced that magical moment in Oakland.

Anyway, we will end the roundup by closing on this note re. jersey-gate:

After USC announced on Monday that it would wear its home jerseys, the Trojans were expected to lose a timeout in each half as a penalty. But after the Pac-10 appealed to the NCAA rules committee, it was interpreted Tuesday that they would lose a timeout in only one half.

Neuheisel had previously agreed to call a timeout as soon as the game started but was unwilling to lose one in the second half. He said Tuesday that he would speak to officials about the best time to call it.

"Either that or ABC will tell me this is an important commercial and this is where they want it," Neuheisel said. "It was genius of (USC coach Pete Carroll) to say he was going to take a timeout in both halves and then find a way not to. That was genius."

The only thing that would have CRN’s take on the situation perfect, was to call Pom Pom a “physical genius.” But hey … calling the Humanitarian a “genius” will do just fine.