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Spaulding Roundup: Owl Preparations

Well I am on my way to LA this morning (provided that we can get out of a snow covered Washington DC in time). So I will not be around much most of the day today. I wanted to get in some practice notes from Friday and yesterday as it now looks like the Bruins are in full game preparation mode (which includes the diving stunts from Friday).

Al Balderas from the OC Register wrote about Rick Neuheisel's over all philosophy to keep his team entertained, motivated and getting them ready for the bowl game:

"Make sure it's a reward but find a way to get them to practice hard. Get ready to enjoy the game, and talk about what winning the game means so that there is a real carrot at the end of the stick."

Neuheisel does not want the Temple game plan to get stale, so he's installing the plays gradually while leaving enough room for fun.

The Bruins have three days to prepare for an opponent during the regular season but, counting Friday they have seven days to work on Temple.

"We put an install day, then we polish," Neuheisel said. "An install day, then we polish. And then an install day, and we get back there and then it's all polish.

"I also want to make sure there's also time for fun, which is the reason we're doing the bowling and high dives and Magic Mountain and all the different stuff.

"You've got to make sure there's a lot of laughing. College campuses, this time of year are ghost towns, so you have to find ways to make this a good deal."

More on Rick Neuheisel's thoughts on bowl preparations in the Daily News:

UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel waited a bit to incorporate the Temple game plan earlier this week as the coaches have taken a good, hard look at the team's up-and-coming players.

Part of it was to get an invaluable jump on next year's lineup. The other was to deliver the Temple message at the right time so that it wasn't lost.

"You don't want to do it early," Neuheisel said. "You don't want it to get stale. You want it to be where you're thinking, you're getting into it and you get it up to full speed and then perform it.

"It's like preparing for a play. You can get tired of rehearsals. You want to get with the live audience."

CRN also mentioned that he had gotten his "formula" on bowl preparation from Terry Donahue. That makes me slightly uncomfortable because the memories of the last two bowl games we collectively experienced from Donahue were not pretty. They included a listless loss against the Jayhawks in the Aloha Bowl (1996) and an unprepared and sloppy one against Wisconsin in 1994. While I definitely understand the need for our guys to have fun and engage in team-bonding, I just hope Neuheisel and his staff have the guys locked in for Temple because Golden's guys are going to be fired up.

Al Golden gave the LA Times a little glimpse on how fired up his Owls are going to be face off against a team from a BCS conference:

"No. 1, any bowl victory is a great bowl victory," Coach Al Golden said. "But when you play a team with the tradition, notoriety and brand like UCLA, it is sure to add significance in terms of perception and in terms of being accepted nationally. Don't think we don't understand for a second the magnitude of playing someone like UCLA."

Again, let's hope our guys are ready to match their intensity and passion on the 29th. More after the jump.

It looks like Kevin Prince had a decent practice on Saturday per Jon Gold's notes:

* Kevin Prince had an effective practice, throwing a couple passes with perfect zip on them. I expect him to play against Temple.

* At this point in preparation, reps are still being divided, particularly at running back.

CRN thinks he will have a "better feel" re. Prince's start by Monday. Meanwhile, more on the running back situation from the LA Times:

"Obviously, we have to create a more efficient running game," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We don't want to have to lean on the passing game too much and lean on our protection too much."

Moline had a plow-horse-like day against Arizona State, gaining 84 yards. He was less effective against USC, with 15 yards in seven carries.

Franklin leads the team with 597 yards and has shown the breakaway speed to get quick scores. But the fumbles have reduced his playing time. He has only 36 carries in the six games since rushing for 101 yards against California.

"I'm definitely trying to earn some trust back from the coaches," said Franklin, a redshirt freshman.

"This is the longest season I have ever had, the longest time I have ever been on the football field. I'm getting used to it, slowly but surely, but it's a long time."

Running backs coach Wayne Moses has used the week to "get back to the fundamentals and getting it back in perspective to see who needs to work on what."

Apparently Moline is expected to start per the LA Times. However, I think this could be a game where the coaches should probably also put in Coleman, Knox and Thigpen with a decent amount of reps.

Coleman's physical running style could be a good match for the Temple's tough running defense. This should also be a game where the coaches will need to mix things up and hopefully take advantage of some of the speed and athleticism we have in guys like Franklin, Knox and Thigpen. I don't think it is going to help us a lot if we keep throwing out the same looks we have shown in our last two games (ASU and Southern Cal) for a well prepared Temple Owls team.