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A Different Spring

No the title of this post is not about Florida’s absence in San Antonio.

The title is about the first day of the first spring practice under the Neuheisel era in Westwood. The beat reporters are already noticing the difference in the outlook and phiolosophy in our football program compared to last few years. Chris Foster in the LA Times on the biggest difference since CRN arrived in Westwood:

The move that has had the most immediate impact was the hiring of Mike Linn as head athletic performance coach.

Bruins' players never fail to mention how much tougher the training has become, as well as how much their muscles ache. Bottom line: tougher training, tougher players -- or so goes the theory.

That would fit nicely with first-year offensive line coach Bob Palcic's plan.

"You've heard of Grumpy old men? Well, that's me," Palcic said. "They better get ready for a rougher spring than they have ever been through."
Questions around the depth and experience of our OL is one of the biggest concerns (among many stemming from the previous regime) heading into this spring. It is comforting to have someone like Palcic in charge. He has the track record as mentioned previously on BN on putting together perhaps the best Bruin OL in last two decades (1993-94). He is not going to care for any nonsense.

Meanwhile, philosophy on our entire offense is going to be uhm … to put it kindly … a little different:
Simplicity, Chow acknowledges, is a key element in his success.

"I told the quarterbacks I want us to understand things so well it will allow us to play fast and hard," Chow said. "If I have to worry about this, this, this, this ... I'm not going to play well. Schematically, we're going to set it up so they all know what they're doing."

In the former offense, once breaking the huddle and strolling to the line of scrimmage, UCLA's quarterback went through myriad observations and calls. In some formations, the weakside linebacker had to be identified as a middle linebacker. If a safety walked toward the line of scrimmage, the player identified as the middle linebacker might have to be changed, and it was the quarterback's job to communicate all the changes with his offensive line. The center would then make the blocking calls.

And what if a safety walked toward the line of scrimmage, calls were made, and the safety dropped back again?

"It could get confusing at times," Olson said. "I'm not making any excuses for anything, but the West Coast Offense, especially the version that we ran last year, is a very complicated, intricate offense, which is run by professionals.

"It's a great offense, and can be very, very powerful in the right situation. It's very cerebral. You have to be on top of your game, and I don't think people who don't know a lick about football understand that."

In meetings with the offensive players, Neuheisel said "it was clear" the play-calling terminology was too complex.
Well we don’t need to add any more commentary on the "offense" from last few years. More from Dohn:
"We're going to have some of the same plays we had (last season)," Olson said. "We're just going to run them in different ways."

There is another way Chow approaches his offense.

"You only run an average of 72 plays a game, so why would you practice 200 plays?" Chow said. "That's what kids tell me from practice (last season). If you don't run a play one week, you run it the next week. You have to have a play in case (the defense) does this, in case they do that. But you're not going to wear yourself out in case (the defense) does this, when they've never shown it before.

"And if they put it in, they must not be good because why are they putting it in and practicing it for two days? And if they do something different, we'll adjust."
When was the last time you heard a UCLA OC use the word "adjust"? Adjusting and molding an offense that fits the team’s personnel … instead of … oh never mind.

Obviously our mind is completely wrapped around hoops right now. But once that’s over we are going to start delve more into our team, look through depth charts, and hopefully hear first hand impressions from the folks who will be going to the practices and scrimmage in the coming days. It is going to take a long time for CRN to reestablish this program but once again by all accounts he is off to a great start.

Back to Madness.