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Spaulding Roundup: Managing The Game

Coleman (33), Umodu (45), Thigpen (25) looking to keep our offense moving. Photo Credit: E. Corpuz
Coleman (33), Umodu (45), Thigpen (25) looking to keep our offense moving. Photo Credit: E. Corpuz

Let's start with good news.  hicalliber fanshotted yesterday that Jayson Allmond was cleared to join the team after some hiccup with NCAA clearing house issues. Both Allmond and Joseph Fauria joined the team in practice yesterday. Fauria will of course be sitting out this year as a transfer but will see a lot of action with the scout team. As for Allmond per Al Balderas in the OC Register he didn't sound too concerned about missing a day and half of practice. 

Since we are on the topic of Allmond let's focus in on the running game today. Al from the OC Register got Norm Chow and Derrick Coleman to lay out the main goal for our running backs this season: average four yards per carry:

"Our goal basically is to get four yards per carry, and move the chains," he said after Tuesday’s practice at Spaulding Field. "If we get four yards per carry, we’ll be good.

"Basically we just want to get the running game going. When the running game gets going, it opens up the passing game."

As easy as Coleman made it sound, that kind of goal was too tough for last year’s squad. Injuries didn’t help. Neither did an offensive line that struggled.

Last year’s running attack averaged 2.4 yards per carry. Three yards would have been a reasonable goal for this year’s squad but four yards will most likely keep the players a little more focused.

Bruins’ offensive coordinator Norm Chow set the bar at four yards but "at the same time we all agreed to it," Coleman added.

"We’re a long ways away," Chow said. "We’re awfully young still, but if the guys are willing to work hard, and hard work can get you somewhere, we’re going to be fine."

One of the guys Bruins are going to heavily depend on to achieve that goal is redshirt junior Christian Ramirez. More on how he is approaching the season after the jump.

Per Jon Gold from the Daily News (who BTW is off to a great start as Dohn's interim replacement on the Daily News blog) Ramirez is modeling himself after a recent Bruin superstar:

Ramirez knows Jones-Drew can run and he can jump and he can catch. Knows he can run over guys twice his size. Knows he can run away from guys exactly his size.

Ramirez knows because he's seen him, and he knows because he wants to be like him.

After two days of UCLA's preseason practice schedule, Ramirez, a redshirt junior halfback, has made it plainly clear he will be used as a dual threat - running and receiving - and even throwing if offensive coordinator Norm Chow lets him.

What Ramirez's exact role will morph into is not going to be known after two practices, particularly two practices without pads. But he knows he'll be all over the field.

"I have to find that out, right here, right now," Ramirez said. "I need to see how coach Chow feels I can be the most effective. But to be honest, after being (111th in total offense) in the nation, just taking a handoff for 80 yards would feel the best. Not just for me, but for the team. Give us some life, some type of life that lets us know we can run the ball."

Well I can't really get into Chow's mind. But if I were speculating I think Chow will reiterate to Christian what he has been saying all season: to give everything he has but at the same time try not to do too much to the point of trying to win the game all by himself. That is why I like the mantra of trying to get 4 yards or more per carry. Because if we can achieve that that will put Prince in much better position to manage the game:

There is little doubt of that at this point -- Chow picks a quarterback and sticks with him. But the plan is to make life as easy as possible for Prince, a redshirt freshman who has not played in a game in nearly two years, which led to the "run the ball or die trying" philosophy.

"All he has to do is manage the game," Chow said. "I don't want him to think he has to make spectacular plays or feel like he has to win the game."

This remains a work in progress. Prince looked sharp Monday, the first day of training camp, but struggled with throws some Tuesday.

"Everybody goes from a place where they are trying to execute a play to where they are playing the game," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "When you are trying to make plays, you look a little robotic. When you're playing the game at full speed, the natural ability comes to the forefront."

Again I am sure that approach should be applied not just by Kevin Prince but the entire team on offense.

On the defensive side though, Brian Price and co. are going to let it lose. Price was named to the 2009 Outland Trophy Watch List yesterday.  It looks like he is going to use that as a source of motivation:

"That was my goal coming to UCLA, to win the award," Price said. "When camp first started, coach (Rick Neuheisel) was talking about how we need to get back to black-tie events, and those are the kinds of black-tie events we need to get back to.

"That was an award I wanted to win coming out of (Crenshaw) high school. That’s the most prestigious award a lineman can win. It’s still my highest goal to achieve at the college level so it gives me something to work for, and the motivation to keep coming out here."

Well we are looking forward to Price and co. dressed up and ready to go ... and LOL at Jackson's jokes next season.