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Spaulding Roundup: ATV's Offseason Notes & Thoughts On OL

Photo Credit: <a href="" target="new">dabruin07's photostream (flickr)</a>
Photo Credit: dabruin07's photostream (flickr)

So let's end the week with a football exclusive roundup (can you get the sense the season is closing in!). Friday means we get to to start by reading the latest update from ATV. It's another good one as ATV posted some really interesting takes from on going off season workouts in Westwood. May be ATV was reading captainqtp's upgrade/downgrade posts on our CB because he gave a specific props to Aaron Hester:

This week the upcoming star for us is Aaron Hester. He had an interception and a break up. He has been productive the whole summer, with the offense hardly throwing at him. He has been good in coverage and has been physical on the receivers. He's calling our guys out and really stepping up to make our team better. I have been really impressed with his progress!

Apparently Hester and ATV (at least according to his count) were holding their own against DeSean Jackson:

Outside of school, I had the pleasure to watch Tom Brady and Matt Cassel throw a little bit with Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson. Their routes, speed and accuracy was very impressive. I was just excited to know I'll hopefully get a chance to play with these guys in the near future. I actually got a chance to go against DeSean in some drills and he is very talented and definitely made me better. Aaron Hester also guarded him and held his own. You can see the potential starting to show from him.

I wonder if they were throwing around in Spaulding because if that's the case Matt Cassel becomes the second former Trojan quartertback to loiter around in Westwood this off season. More from ATV including a "shout out" to Nick Ekbatani and our OL:

This week in the weight room we had more emphasis on conditioning. Everyone is still pulling each other through and getting everyone amped to get ready for the season. We are maintaining our progress in the weight room and getting techniques down so we can perform better in the lifts. On Friday, we had a hard workout and competed on tire flips for time! I saw the previous week that punter Jeff Locke did exceptionally well so I challenged him. We battled hard, but he ended up getting the better time by 1.5 sec. This week, I will try again! By the way, we were the 1st and 2nd fastest times in our group at our weight. A "shout out" goes to Nick Ekbatani .....He is working hard out there in the lifts and getting ready to contribute on the O-line this yr!

Well needless to say all eyes are going to be on our OL this coming season. More on that topic after the flip.

Ted Miller in his "Hope and concern" series on ESPN's Pac-10 blog lists UCLA's OL as the "biggest reason for concern" this coming season:

The O-line returns six players who started at least five games a year ago, but it's hard to say that's good news when the unit surrendered 35 sacks and led the nation's 116th-ranked running game (83 yards per game). Incoming players are expected to help, and it's not unreasonable to assume that the line can't get any worse. But significant improvement is necessary if the offense isn't going to let the defense down again.

Here is a thought though. And it comes from this article from the Wall Street Journal discussing how "offensive-line experience can predict success":

Offensive-line experience is one of the telltale predictors of success in college football. Last season, eight of the top 10 teams in the final Associated Press poll began the season with at least 65 combined career starts by their offensive linemen, including title-game participants Florida and Oklahoma. Two of 2008's biggest surprises, Utah and Ole Miss, had more than 80 starts of experience, enabling them to improve dramatically on offense. Conversely, Georgia, Missouri and Clemson -- three preseason top-10 teams that disappointed -- were green up front, with fewer than 40 starts each.

Hmm. If you go back to our last season's before the year OL depth chart discussions, you will find how we were all worried about coping with disaster as our OL featured only 16 starts. It was unreal and gave us a good reason to be gloomy about 2008 season (couple with the fact we were going in without our two top QBs). This year the situation is a little different though. At the end of the spring, (if I have my quick math ride) we had around 46 (not counting the 2 starts from Sonnt Tevaga) starts in that roster. That is not as dire.

However, before we get too excited, we also have to be realistic about the talent level of our team as well. There is a chance by the time this coming season settles in kids like XSF, Hasiak and Williams might beat out some of the kids from last year. The key though will be that we will have a OL group that will have one season of Palcic coaching under its belt. So, hopefully that would mean more intense competition between experience and raw talent this August. Can't wait.