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Spring Football News & Notes

Our team is playing in the Final-4 tomorrow but I still cannot get enough of the spring practice reports. Thanks so much to matsumoto720 and Steven for sharing their impressions on the first day of CRN era at Spalding Field.

There are some interesting notes and quotes from first day practice. Let’s get right to them. Chris Foster has this report on the state of our OL:

The linchpin to the new offensive system brought in by Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow is the offensive line. Center Micah Reed and tackle Micah Kia are expected to be players to build around, but the rest of the line remains murky, with opportunities for all.

"I think we can be better than we were last year," Scott Glicksberg said. "There is so much opportunity and motivation for everyone. The competition has gone through the roof."

The opportunity led Glicksberg, a tight end last season, to try to beef up to 300 pounds and move inside -- "I'm about 280 right now, but I'll get there. I room with a couple linemen and I eat like a horse."

The holes in the line also have Darius Savage putting his track and field season on hold so he can compete for a starting spot at guard. He is UCLA's top discus thrower but will miss four meets this month, including the Texas Relays, where he won the discus competition last year.

"If I missed spring, I wouldn't see them again until June or July, and with the new coaching staff, it would be like being an outcast," Savage said.

Only three players returning had playing time on the offensive line during the 2007 season, though Glicksberg said, "I don't think it's a weakness for us. I think it's a place where we'll show a lot people they were wrong."
Foster has his information a little mixed up I think. I don’t think he mean Scott Glicksberg. Glicksberg have been playing in the OL for at least couple of years. It was Adam Heater (as indicated in DN report linked later in this post) who was moved from TE to C this season. Regardless, it will be very interesting to see how Savage develops under the coaching of Palcic who as evidenced in the following quotes is a pretty colorful (and confident) guy:
"I think we have a couple good candidates to be good players," said Palcic, who spent the last two seasons at Wisconsin. "We have guys who are young and inexperienced, but I've been through this before.

"I'm old school, a blue collar, shot-beer guy, no champagne. I believe in teaching good fundamentals and keeping the system simple -- don't think, use athleticism and play hard."
Obviously one of the main spotlight during next couple of weeks will be how the QB competition will work out. From Ramona Shelburne in the Daily News:
A starter could be named by the end of camp, but offensive coordinator Norm Chow said he and Neuheisel hadn't decided exactly what the time frame would be.

Whomever emerges will have to master Chow's offense, which is said to be similar, but simpler than what UCLA ran last year.

"A lot of what we're doing now is very similar to what they did before," Chow said. "For example, we have a play we call 16, they called it 96. But what we're trying to convince them of now is if we call 16, don't say 'OK, 16 is like 96'

"Just learn 16 as 16. Just like when you learn a language, you don't want to say OK, in English this word means this."
Speaking of QBs, here are the first impressions from BO and PC:
"Coach Chow's very intense, but very calm," Olson said. "He's extremely smart. we haven't really looked at what we did last year, because it's a completely different system. we're trying to forget a lot of that and start from scratch."

Said Cowan: "It's just 'Do what you need to do, but understand why.' That's his way of teaching us, and I like that."
And here is CRN on what he is looking for from our starting QB:
Neuheisel said he was looking for, "somebody to take control in huddle, look them in the eye, get them to believe that he knows what he's doing. Someone who doesn't just execute a play, but executes an offense. Someone who has the ability to take fast action and make it slow motion."
I had to pinch myself this morning to make sure those quotes exuding confidence and security were coming from a UCLA head football coach. Again as anxious I am getting for tomorrow night’s tip-off, I am already filled with anticipation for the kickoff against Tennessee. So please keep the reports coming guys.