clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spring Football Notes

Reading from yesterday's reports in the MSM it sounded like our offense had a pretty mediocre Friday night against the defense. However, a poster named Jeff_is_smiling, who has been publishing some detailed reports from practice, seemed to have a different impression. Per Jeff's report from Friday which he posted in BruinGold, the ' the offense was competitive with the defense':

The first part of the scrimmage was 7-on-7's. Both Cowan and Olson were HOT during this session. Cowan was 10 of 12 for 78 yards and he hit 7 different receivers. Olson was 4 of 7 for 25 yards, but all three incompletes were due to dropped passes. He hit 4 different receivers in his time. Both of them looked crisp and accurate. Naturally, no pass rush, but throws on time and accurate count in my book. The only other QB to get snaps during the 7-on-7's was Craft, who was 1 of 3 for 3 yards.

Then the full scrimmage got going. Again, just like yesterday, it appeared to me that the offense was competitive with the defense. The first team defense was studly against the run as usual, but the offense managed to move the ball on the ground and in the air. What was intriguing was that the throws were DEEPER than previous years. While we lived thru the dink-and-dunk offense the last few years, this offense uses the dink and dunk alot smarter. Previous seasons would see a 3 yard pass go for.......3 yards and a cloud of dust. This version of the offense throws a 1 yard pass that goes for 6 yards, and often requires a very good defensive play to keep from going for 10 yards more.
You can read his rest of the report here, in which Jeff provides his notes on every series.  Jeff was also at Spaulding during last Thursday's practice during which he took detailed notes (also posted on BruinGold). Here are the grafs that stood out to me:
I have to admit, I can see alot of promise in this offense. We are clearly not close to where we need to be from a timing standpoint between QB's and receivers, but there are already elements that the QB's seem to fully understand that are immediately paying off. It is clear that our bread-and-butter play, the one that is the rock solid foundation should everything else not a little 3 yard pass. We KILLED our own defense today repeatedly using this little pass. It seems like we are throwing underneath the coverage when blitzes occur, and this little 3 yard pass gets alot of YAC out of it. Over and over again, we'd get 6 yards out of it. Sometimes alot more depending on how aggressively the defense was blitzing. Also, our timing routes in 1-on-1 coverage using a fade throw up the sideline is looking very crisp as well.

Anyways, I was encouraged. The best passes today were a quick slant into the end zone by Cowan that he drilled in there, and two beautiful fade throws up the sidelines by Olson. He should excellent touch and accuracy on the throws. Each ate up 25-30 yards. Overall, Cowan was 4 of 6, Olson was 3 of 6 with a TD and a pick, Craft was 2 of 3.
I have to say the report on how they are trying to establish as 3 yard pass as one of the base of our offense is kind of exciting (although note we always have to take notes from practices with the caveat given the optimistic reports we are used to getting from practices over the years). I always thought the Dorrell and his staff completely botched the reputation of WCO offense due to their game mismanagement. If CRN and Chow can establish the 3 yard dink and dunk pass as one of the base elements of our offense, allowing our receivers to catch the ball in the right spot and compile YACs time after time, it will have the potential to create an unpredictable, efficient offense putting the opposing D on their heel. We saw that 3 yard dink and dunks a lot from the Southern Cal offense during Chow's days, when it killed the opposing defenses with quick fire strikes to their backs and TEs, setting the D up for deep bombs.

It's what the Niners did so effectively with Roger Craig (TB), Tom Rothman (FB), Brent Jones (TE), which in turn effectively set up the explosions from Rice and Taylor.

I think it will take a while for our guys to get this down. But I like hearing that they are trying to master one aspect of the offense first, and then expand it from there. It's a different approach from last five years when a huge playbook (which offensive coaches didn't seem to have a full grasp on) was crammed down our players' throats.

Speaking of players, Dohn mentions couple of kids who could potentially have an impact on our offense this coming season. Ryan Moya is back with our team. And the TE could emerge as a key contributor to our offense this season. Here is CRN on what Moya needs to do:
"I think as he settles down, his natural athleticism will be more evident," Neuheisel said. "He needs to be a legitimate blocker that can catch the ball and get a lot of junk yardage."
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Embree, who has been making an impression as a receiver last couple of weeks at Spaulding:
Freshman receiver Taylor Embree was one of the bright spots on offense during UCLA's first scrimmage last week - and he had three more catches in Friday's scrimmage - but it remains to be seen whether he plays this season or redshirts.

"We'll see," said Embree, a grayshirt who entered school in January. "I'm doing everything I can, every chance I get, to make a play. The big thing for me is I need to get in the playbook and start learning more of the receivers' plays from each of the positions, not just one spot."
Keep an eye on the kid and see how he performs in next Saturday's scrimmage.

Also another kid who coaches are expecting a lot from is left guard Darius Savage. Coaches asked Savage to switch over from defensive line. He has also been adjusting playing both in the track team this spring (he went to Oregon for this weekend's track meet) and putting in his time at practice. In the past during spring he was exclusively doing track, but this year the coaches also asked him to put his time in at Spaulding. Kuwada from the OC Register had this note on Savage who was fired up to get back into it after his weekend track meet at Oregon:
When Savage returns, he can get back to the business of football, learning a position where the Bruins have few options for next season. To this point, it has gone well.

"The mental aspect is coming, not slowly, but it's getting better," Savage said of his football education. "It's not slow, but it's not rapid. It's right in the middle."

Savage was primarily an offensive lineman in high school before being switched to defense when enrolling at UCLA, and he said his confidence is increasing as an offensive lineman, "and I'm able to play faster and faster every day.''

Offensive linemen gaining comfort levels will be crucial to the Bruins as none of the six players on the depth chart at the guard positions has started a game or even played a prominent role.

Savage was put there because he looked the part at 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds.

"I was surprised, but that shows a lot of faith that the coaches have in me and the pressure was on me. But it's not pressure when you want to do it, and I relish the challenge," he said.
If Savage can pick up Palcic's teachings and adapt to Chow's scheme, it will be a huge boost for the inexperienced OL heading into the Fall camp.