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National Storylines From UCLA's Spring Game

Photo Credit:  <a href="" target="new">gobias83</a>
Photo Credit: gobias83

WWL's Ivan Maisel seems to have UCLA's spring game on his annual calendar these days. Last year he was at the Rose Bowl checking out UCLA's spring game under CRN and he posted a profile of Norm Chow returing to college game (and immediately dealing with surreal injury issues at QB). This year Maisel returned to find out UCLA still working on addressing its QB issues with a brand new QB (HT to antipimp for spotting the Maisel piece on ESPN).

I will get to our QBs below but I thought the nugget on Bullough's take on Reggie Carter moving to Mike position was worth taking note:

"Middle linebacker is more his natural position," linebackers coach Chuck Bullough said of Carter. Bullough took over as defensive coordinator when DeWayne Walker left to become head coach at New Mexico State.

"He's very strong, can bench-press the world. He's very good at getting off blocks. He's not as fast as other outside backers. This fits him more. He enjoys the middle. They can't run away from you there."

The kid Reggier Carter really reminds me of is Brian Wilmer, the former Bruin LB who really came into his own during the late 90s. Wilmer was a tough, physical backer who would inflict brutal punishments on our opponents. I think Carter is one of those guys who sets that tone of physicality that the entire team feeds off.  Here is to a great off season for Reggie and a healthy senior season, because I think he has the potential for exploding into the national scene next year.

Well one way Carter and his team-mates can be more effective is if they don't have to stay on the field as long as they have had to in last few years. That takes us back to discussion of our offense and Kevin Prince. From CRN in the Maisel piece:

"I think our defense is going to be a heck of a deal," Neuheisel said. "Now I think we need to get an offense to give them some hope, and get them off the field, and let them fly around so they're not playing so many plays."

That's the right expectation. I for one am not expecting Prince to blow up throwing more than 10 TDs next season. What I am hoping for though is him to minimize his mistakes as much as practicable for a first year college starter and keep the drives going. We lost at least 2 games last season due to surreal amount of interceptions. I am assuming that's what the coaches are looking to avoid for this coming season. And this leads me to pointing to the most interesting nugget from this Maisel piece. Apparently Chow himself pondered burning Prince's redshirt season for a while last year:

"We talked about it for a long time, and we decided to save him," Chow said. "He would be so much farther along now."

Prince is 19, 6-foot-2, 226 pounds, and hasn't played a full game in nearly three years. As a senior at at Crespi Carmelite High in Encino, Calif., Prince injured his knee in the first quarter of the season opener. There is a lot of tread on his tires.

"It would have helped me," Prince said of playing last season, "but who knows how I would have played? I could have laid an egg and come out here with zero confidence."

Well I am glad that we ended up not playing him last year. It wouldn't have been fair. He would have gotten killed behind last year's OL within a quarter. That leads me to appreciate one more time what Kevin Craft did for the program last season. Craft doesn't have the natural talent other D-1 QBs do. However, what Craft showed in terms of courage by hanging in there game after game, proved him to be tougher than lot of QBs we see at the highest level (cough**Jim Everett**cough). For now though it looks like Craft will be competing against Brehaut for the no. 2 spot this Fall.

Anyway, as Maisel mentioned in his piece the offense deserves an "incomplete grade" this spring due to all the injuries and players coaches held out. Plus given the influx of fresh talent this fall, the offense will go through more evolution as coaches will be evaluating whether raw talents such as Hasek, Su'a-Filo, Carroll and others can contribute right away. I think if the team keeps scraping and clawing like it did in every game last season (except for the disaster in Provo when the roof just caved in) and our offense can be servicable, we have a very good chance of meeting CRN's goal of making a postseason bowl game (kind of like how Howland's second year goal was to scrape and claw into a tourney game).