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Spring @ Spaulding: So Far, So Good

Wondering how we are going to pivot from all Ben Ball all day to turning our focus over to what has been going at Spaulding Field? Well let’s start with our head football coach re his thoughts on end of the hoops season and we will use his thoughts to segway into this spring. So here was CRN after watching the Final-4:

`I'm very disappointed. No, that's probably the wrong word, disappointed. I mean `disappointed' (for them), more because of how much they wanted it and how close they got,'' Neuheisel said. ``I think we've been spoiled around here. To be in three straight Final Fours speaks volumes about them. My hat's off to Ben (Howland) and his staff and all the players.

``I've got my fingers crossed that they like each other enough that they all want to stay together another year.''
Yet another example of a head coach, who is completely in tune with the community he represents and around him. As for his team, CRN and his staff will be conducting a scrimmage later today and will get into lot more situational work with his team. This will probably mean that the "competition" is about to get more heated and intense at Spaulding. From CRN:
``It was encouraging to see what happened (Monday), but there's still too many young mistakes, and guys have to understand that we're going to have to move on without them if they don't get rid of those things,'' coach Rick Neuheisel said. ``You have to be able to play with the ball in your hands, you have to be staying onsides. Those kind of things, after now almost a third of spring practices are done, have to have more penalty and consequence to them as we go forward.

``Guys have to understand we're moving on without them if they don't see the urgency.''
From CRN’s words you can sense a different kind of intensity at practice field. CPBBruinFan over at Bruin Roar also took note of the intensity that has been evident this spring out at Spalding.

While CRN and his staff are working to cut down on mistakes in his team, his offense is showing signs of picking it up. Ramona Shelburne from the Daily News (who has been doing great job covering the team while Dohn and Painter were in San Antonio) reports how the RB corps had a good day:
Raymond Carter is still wearing a red non-contact jersey. Kahlil Bell is wearing a helmet, but can do little more than jog and sit in on meetings while he recovers from knee surgery. Milton Knox and Aundre Dean are still in high school.

So for the time being, UCLA's running backs are Christian Ramirez, Chane Moline and walk-ons Craig Sheppard and Ryen Carew. Eventually, they could slide down the depth chart, but they've been trying to make the most of the opportunity to impress UCLA's new coaching staff.

"Knowing what kind of competitor Kahlil is, we know he's going to come in and go as hard as he can, so we've got to take advantage of what we can get now to make a statement for ourselves," said Ramirez, who appeared in 11 games last season.

After several shaky days, the running game clicked Monday. Ramirez and Sheppard broke off several long runs, Moline looked good in short-yardage situations and Carew showed good vision and speed on a couple of runs.

"That was one of the bright spots from practice today," tight end Logan Paulsen said. "The running game looked good, and that was a positive because we've been struggling with that the last couple of days."
Meanwhile, the passing game is already looking more vertical than it did last few years:
Receiver Gavin Ketchum loped down the field, then won a battle on a deep pass for a big gain during drills Monday. Moments later, receiver Marcus Everett had a carbon-copy moment.

That was a look at three things Bruins fans did not see often last season -- a deep pass down field, and Everett and Ketchum on the field. Both have recovered from ankle injuries that sidelined them much of the 2007 season.

"Putting on the pads again is a great feeling," Ketchum said. "Being out here, running around, diving for the ball, getting a hit, hitting people, I missed that."

Said Everett: "It's a crazy feeling, because I haven't been out here for a long time. I love competing against the defense, showing the coaches what I got."

Their pain-free return gives the Bruins two experienced receivers during a time when the team is learning a new offense.

"I think right now we have a variety of receivers," wide receivers coach Reggie Moore said. "Having veteran guys, with a little knowledge, that's experience you can't beat."

As for the group, Moore said, "We want them all to get in the mind-set that we're going to play fast. We're going to keep the offense simple enough where they will be able to play fast and have the opportunity to make plays."
There is that word "simple" again. It has been popping up all over this spring, just giving us subtle reminders what we had been subjected to last five years.

One guy who is trying to take in this simple Chow approach fast is JC transfer Kevin Craft, who has emerged as a "dark horse" in QB competition against BO, PC, CF and OR. Ramona posted Kraft’s take on the competition:
``I don't really think about what the other guys are doing,'' he said. ``All I'm trying to do is beat the defense every day. I've been in competitions since I was in high school. You just get used to it.

``The only thing you can ever really ask for is a shot. That's what it's all about.'
Intensity, honest competition, while doing everything possible to cut down on mistakes (and keeping it simple).

From all accounts out of Spaulding: so far so good.