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Back To Football

Chris Foster from the Times on how CRN and his coaches brought everyone’s focus back to football:

Whatever anger or unhappiness first-year Coach Rick Neuheisel had about the players leaving practice dissipated, though he made them climb the wall to leave practice Thursday -- something they did not do Tuesday.

"They did it right this time," Neuheisel said, as players -- and offensive line coach Bob Palcic -- scurried over the seven-foot wall.

The moment, which followed a Neuheisel meeting with the team Thursday morning, seemed to conclude the matter in a humorous way, with television cameras from a local sports channel watching. Neuheisel also said that apologies were sent out Thursday morning to the high school coaches and players who came to practice Tuesday.

"It probably wasn't the best decision to make, but we learned from it," senior quarterback Ben Olson said. "We did it as a team and we can't dwell on what happened."

A harsh workout as punishment was not part of the lesson, as the Bruins prepared for the second of three scrimmages.

"There was no shouting and hollering," defensive tackle Brigham Harwell said about the Thursday morning meeting. "He just said he was mad that we didn't go over the wall."

Harwell also said, "As a team we're going to make it up to the coaches. Whether it's watching film or being on the field without the coaches, we'll make it up. We can run a practice ourselves."
I am not going to do any more over the wall posts from my end. I am done. I think the seniors have gotten message that it was a dumb move on their part, which made our program look bad both at local and national level. However, there is no reason to keep beating them over it again and again. I like the fact that CRN didn’t over-react by dolling out suspensions or doing something drastic as pulling scholies (per the rumors we heard yesterday) and gave the appearance that he was reacting to public pressure.

If CRN and his staff came out with some suspensions and dramatically alter yesterday’s practice, it actually would have probably blown up this small story (which seems significant at a time when there is not much going in the sports world except for never ending NBA/NHL playoffs and baseball action that puts everyone to sleep) into an artificially "bitter" controversy.

By having the whole team actually jump over the wall this time including the coaches, it will get the players to buy into him even more. I am going to bet that if tradition is sustained it’s not going to take place during spring practices but some other time in the year when missing one practice will have no discernible impact.

Speaking of tradition CRN brough back more than hundred alums back to practice yesterday (from the LAT report linked above):
About 125 former UCLA players were in attendance at practice, along with former head coach Terry Donahue and his former offensive coordinator, Homer Smith. Donahue addressed the team after practice, which was followed by a barbecue at a booster's home.
Good to see Homer Smith back at Spaulding. For the youngsters who don’t know who remember who Coach Smith, consider him as first "genius" offensive coordinator to coach at Spaulding.

Anyway, going back to football, Dohn reports on how our receivers are finding the options in Chow’s offense to be simpler:
It used to be UCLA's receivers had two choices on a pass play - run the designed route, or a go-route. It was a source of frustration in a complex, confining system under former coach Karl Dorrell.

Now, when a receiver stands at the line of scrimmage, his job is the look at the defensive backs and one of the linebackers, then choose from a variety of route options off a simple read.

It is simplistic, UCLA's receivers say, but new offensive coordinator Norm Chow's offense provides plenty of freedom.

"The way the play is designed, it's easier to determine which route to do," Bruins receiver Terrence Austin said.

"How it was last year, it was like, `OK, I got two and that's it.' There could have been an alternative route, but it was just not designed in the play. The routes given now are more instinctual. You don't have to think about it. It's common sense."

UCLA fifth-year receiver Marcus Everett said there are at least two or three variations on routes for each play, with go-routes also in the equation.

"We have a couple of read routes where we can do one route, or if the defensive back plays a certain way, we can do another route," Everett said. "It gives a lot of leeway to the receivers. As long as the quarterback and the receivers are on the same page, it'll be a good thing."
Well speaking of QBs, coaches have some center-QB issues to work on (emphasis added):
UCLA Coach RIck Neuheisel said that the center-quarterback exchange was a major issue in practice on Thursday, with C Michah Reed and QB Ben Olson having some major problems. Olson saw a lot of first-team reps on Thursday and Neuheisel estimated there were at least six drops.

Neuheisel said part of the issue may be that Olson is left-handed and the ball must be delivered differently than for the right-handed Pat Cowan. It should also be noted that both QB's are 6-foot-5 and Reed is a somewhat stocky 6-foot-4. Neuheisel said that either the ball is being delivered short or the QB's dont have their hands deep enough under the center.

"It's absolutely driving me crazy and the only way I know how to do it is bombard it with attention," Neuheisel said. "So we have to go back to the drawing board. I think we can get there.

"The only thing I can think of is its a different top hand. We just have to make sure we get that problem solved."
Hmm … little details … driving CRN "crazy."

Anyone miss the days of a football coach "sleeping well"?