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Spaulding Roundup: Defensive Notes

Well we are now officially in the nuclear winter part of college football season. This week we will tie up all the lose ends from last weekend's scrimmage. However, the volume of information from football will certainly slow down from now till mid summer when we start gearing up for pre-season camp. No worries though. We have been around here long enough to know there will never be any shortages of UCLA related topics to note of and comment about here on BN. Plus with baseball kicking it up to another gear and number of other teams involved in post-season, I am sure we will close out the spring season in BN on a fun note.

Going back to football wanted to talk a little bit about our defense which absolutely dominated. Let's start with Dohn from the Daily News who notes Bullough getting more data points on his defensive end position this spring:

Spring practice allowed UCLA to figure out how who it will use at left defensive end as defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said sophomore Datone Jones and junior Reggie Stokes likely will play.

"I think Datone has improved so much, and we hope that is going to continue," Bullough said.

"He can play. He's going to be special one day. Not yet, but if he keeps working, and he's a hard worker."

Stokes, though, is bothered by a sore knee. Bullough said his plays will have to be managed depending on its health, which Bullough expects to be an issue throughout the season.

Hopefully Stokes can manage this coming year. Bullough should have more options to work with this summer when kids like Keenan Graham arrive on campus. In addition to Stokes and Jones settling in, Price and Ayers have had a steady spring:

As he has done all spring, defensive tackle Brian Price pretty much did what he pleased. He had two sacks.

"I have been here a couple years," Price said. "Guys are looking to me to make plays."

Linebacker Akeem Ayers, a reserve last season, seems set at linebacker. "Knowing the coaches have confidence in me makes me play with more confidence," Ayers said.

Well the defense certainly has the confidence of CRN, who was stoked with what he saw on Sat night:

"They run like a Pac-10 team now," Neuheisel said of his defenders.

"I think we can be very good," Verner said of this veteran group. "We know what we're doing now; all we have to do is go out and play."

Well the trick will be now for this defense to not get complacent and work even harder this off season. They need to come back hungrier, have a good fall camp, and then unleash themselves on San Diego State on September. It's pretty clear they will serve as the backbone of next year's team.

Yes, we are still climbing out of a huge hole (and we received a jarring reminder this past weekend on how big of a hole UCLA program was in when CRN took over). I think if our defense can stay steady, hang in there (like they did last season), while the offense can provide average production under a new QB (they were way below average this past season), we might be able to pull off a decent season, setting us up well for 2010-11.