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Neu Philosophies

While CRN, Chow and Walker are working to thin out the herd at Spaulding, wanted to share with you few tidbits on the new coaching philosophy that is guiding our football program. Some of this information has been out there already, but I imagine lot of us missed it during our total focus on our Ben Ball warriors road to San Antonio.

I already referenced Coach Chow's "tough money" philosophy wrt to setting on the depth chart. Right before practice got started Adam Maya from the OC Register posted an article reporting how CRN would foster "daily competition" which would bring "leaders to the fore." One of the first issues wrt our football program CRN has been addressing is to bridge "the culture of divide" b/w our offense and defense and get them to practice at the same tempo:

When Neuheisel was hired, since-fired UCLA coaches told him there was a culture divide between the offense and defense. The two units were not practicing at the same tempo. With spring camp three months away, he decided they would work out at the same tempo.

The linebackers were paired up with the tight ends and fullbacks, the receivers with the secondary, and so on.

"We need to make sure that we all understand that we play for one school," Neuheisel said.
The result of this approach? Intense competition. Already there has been couple of fracas broke out during first day in the pads. But before yet get too alarmed about team chemistry and discipline, read this from Ramona on DN's blog:
UCLA just finished up its first day in pads and I gotta say, the intensity level was way up. Guys were flying around hitting each other, at least two fights broke out, and then everybody pretty much ran off the field to go watch the men's basketball game.
So yeah it's all good while the intensity is at a different level at Spalding .

Meanwhile, there is a new "board" players are getting used to:
The same day his players came together for a volunteer workout, Neuheisel told them about the board. Each day during the spring the UCLA staff will tabulate scores for every drill and the results will be posted in the locker room afterward.

"The beautiful thing about these things is that I win every drill," Neuheisel said. "I want to know which personalities are going to carry the day, which guys are going to lead in those situations. This brings leaders to the fore."

It is an intangible the Bruins are desperately seeking. A year ago, 20 starters returned, resulting in a predictable spring and fall camp. A slew of injuries throughout the season left the Bruins thin at several positions, leaving walk-ons to play substantial time at running back and quarterback.

This year at least two offensive linemen who have never started a game will do so. The projected starting receivers combined for four starts last year. Paulsen was the only offensive player to start in all 13 games on offense. There are none on defense. With depth expected to be a concern again, Neuheisel is hoping his board will create it.

Bosworth said the concept has everyone talking.

"He brought in that fire," Bosworth said of Neuheisel. "It's going to make everyone work harder. (In the past) I wouldn't tell an offensive guy to step up. Now it doesn't matter. If you're slacking you'll get called out.

"I guarantee there's more guys like me this year than there were in the past."
Music to my ears.

While drilling his players with an intense competitive spirit, at the same time he is giving them all the positive reinforcement he can as the leader of the team:
One thing that's been very evident the first few days of practice is Rick Neuheisel's adherence to the positive coaching alliance's school of thought. Basically, for every negative comment you make, you're supposed to give two or three positive comments.

Throughout spring practice, everyone on the sidelines has noticed the effort he's made to demonstrably praise players for coming up with good plays, or making good decisions. It's not all the time or over-the-top. Just three or four times a practice, but it's noticeable. And when he makes negative comments, he often pulls the player aside and tells him privately.

``If i'm going to be loud and demonstrative to make a point that's negative, I'm going to be every bit as loud if not more so if I'm making a point that's positive,'' he said. ``I'm huge on making sure people understand how much I appreciate their effort.''
Given the issues with depth and lack of experience, our team is going to need all the positive reinforcement it can get from CRN and his coaching staff, while they go through the culture of shock of experiencing a new environment that is challenging them with a spirit of intense and honest competition, that has been missing for last few years.

It will be interesting to see how this translates into the depth chart this Fall camp and subsequent performances on the field. Obviously we have a long way to go in terms of expecting immediate results on the field. However, what I am expecting next season is having a team that is going to minimize mistakes, take some chances with an aggressive philosophy to win games, and fight, scratch, and claw for every inch on both sides of the team, leaving everything on the field. From what we have read and hear from first few days at practices, the initial signs are sure encouraging.