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Spaulding Roundup: News & Notes From Practice

A day after Neuheisel came down on couple of players for lackadaisical effort at Spaulding, the players picked up the intensity and tempo at practice. Pushing his players not something new for CRN. Dohn’s report today leads off with a look at Dominique Johnson, who has been repeatedly challenged this season by CRN, Chow, Moore (WR coach) and other former Bruins (any guesses here?) to give a consistent effort  every play:

UCLA wide receiver Dominique Johnson snatched the highlight-reel, one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone at USC, and in a flash, his talent was visible for all to see.

That play showcased the best of Johnson, and also brought to light a bigger frustration: Why couldn't he play with such spirit all the time?

So, one by one, first-year Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel, offensive coordinator Norm Chow, receivers coach Reggie Moore and a few former Bruins went to Johnson in an effort to make him a bigger factor in the offense. Their charge was Johnson needed to consistently give a better effort.

"They just ride me and ride me and ride me," said Johnson, a sophomore. "They never let me relax out here. It used to be a habit of mine to do just enough to get the coaches to not say anything to me. (This staff) has kind of instilled in me that that's not going to help me in the long run.

"I can be the best in the nation, and in order to achieve that I have to come out here and work harder than anybody, and come out here and keep grinding it out, even when I don't feel like it."

DJ came out strong last week catching 4 passes against the Vols (he had 25 total last season). Hopefully he can match that effort if not improve upon it next Saturday. We are going to need him (and his team-mates) to step up in a big way so that the Bruins can show the same ability to ball-control like they did against the Vols during the second half at the Rose Bowl.

Other kids who will need to step up (if called upon) are Dean and Franklin. Foster from the LAT reports how Aundre Dean and Johnathan “Jet Ski” Franklin are preparing for BYU:

"You just never know, so you have to be ready at all times," Dean said. "You have to show it on the practice field so they know you can do it."

As for what he has learned, Dean said, "This level is so fast, you don't have a lot time to think. If you make a mistake, you have to make a mistake going full speed. If you don't, you'll kill the play and get yourself hurt."

Franklin has risen in the eyes of Bruins coaches, as his breakaway speed is hard to ignore. He was on the scout team before the Tennessee game but has been getting reps with Dean on the second team this week. Franklin scooted around the corner on a long touchdown run during Friday's practice.

"If the opportunity comes, you have to make the best of it," Franklin said.

As for the possibility of Bell playing, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "To listen to Kahlil, he'll be there. I'm wise enough to know that the mind will sometimes say what the body won't do. Every time I try to dunk I try to remember that. Hopefully he's right and we'll be ready."

Good to hear CRN will not rush Bell back into action. We are going to need some semblance of running game against the Cougars next weekend. FWIW in our last matchup against them Markey put together a very decent effort against the Cougars in Vegas in December when he rushed for 117 yards in 27 carries. We don’t need Carter, Moline, Dean or Franklin to go off for 100 yards (all though that would be fantastic). I think if we can get them to put together a running game that will average 3.5-4 yards a carry, it would be a huge assist to the OL and our passing game. Chow’s scheming will be even more effective if he has the consistent luxury of calling plays on 2nd and 6 rather than 2nd and long situations while we are on offense. So hopefully Dean, Franklin are picking up the schemes fast out at Spaulding.

While Dean and Franklin are preparing to make contributions as true fresh, another one of their classmate (who wasn’t most heralded recruit) burst into the scene Monday night. Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise has a write up on freshman LB Sean Westgate (out of Oak Park High) who stepped up huge against Tennessee:

A 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, Westgate may have been one of the more overlooked players in UCLA's stellar defensive recruiting class, but he has already made a huge impact on the 23rd-ranked Bruins, who next play at BYU on Sept. 13 in Provo, Utah.

In his first collegiate game on Monday night, Westgate recovered a punt blocked by Akeem Ayers and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown, helping to kickstart UCLA's 27-24 victory over Tennessee.

"I wasn't expecting anything like this in the first game," said Westgate, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in January and admitted that he was fully expecting to redshirt this season.

"I'm out here to compete and make everyone else better. I work hard for it and try to put myself in a good position. They gave me an opportunity to play and I'm not going to turn it down."

In Tuesday's USA Today, Westgate was on the front page of the paper -- not just the sports section -- but was misidentified as tailback Craig Sheppard, who also wears No. 21. But if Westgate keeps making plays, the UCLA coaching staff believes it won't be long before he isn't so anonymous.

Well he might be “anonymous” to clueless reporters (ala Marcia Smith), but not here on BN.

Bruins have the day off today as coaches are scouring around California (and the country) on recruiting trips. I am sure they are going to take note of the BYU-Washington game coming up at 12:30 pm PST. We will put up an open thread for that game and other college football action this Sat  this afternoon.