Bruins are hitting the time of the preseason camp when bumps and bruises start taking toll over football teams. Not too surprisingly we are starting to see more reports of players getting injured at practices or coming back from injuries. On Wednesday another lineman - Micah Kia - went down with a knee injury. From the OC Register:
Kia hurt his right knee with about 10 minutes remaining in Wednesday's practice at Spaulding Field.
"Right now it's a right knee sprain," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.
By today it could be something worse.
Kia was scheduled to undergo an MRI – either Wednesday night or this morning – to determine the severity of the injury.
"I think Kia will be back," Neuheisel said. "He's that kind of guy. He's worked hard for this."
Kia is the second senior OL to go down with a knee injury during this camp:
"It's sad to see two seniors, Ekbatani and Kia, fall to injury but this game does that," Neuheisel said. "It gives an opportunity to somebody else and whoever it is has to pick up the flag and carry on."
Ekbatani is going to be out 4-6 weeks. Kia's injury means Hasiak will probably get an opportunity to step up right away. Honestly, I don't see any reason to freak out over these injuries. I don't have specific data available to me in terms of ratio of players who go down with these injuries to the entire team every practice. However, the amount of bumps and bruises we are seeing at Spaulding, seems to me fairly normal occurrence at least for this time of the year.
We have to keep in mind what a violent sport this really is. You have 280-310 lb athletes exploding out of their three point stances and gong right at each other in warp speed in down after downs, often leaving them vulnerable. When you put it in perspective, these kinds of injuries shouldn't be all that surprising. That is why it is so incredibly important to have depth in the team and that plays a direct role in whether a team can contend for championships. We don't have that depth yet and it will take another year or two build it up. But then again we knew that as we were going through various positions (well we still have the DB position to go through). If you had that perspective, then you wouldn't freak out over these injuries. Anyway, let's hope CRN is right and Kia gets to come back soon. More after the jump.
In addition to Kia, Maiava was also banged up. Per the LA Times he "sat out the end of practice with a sore left shoulder." It was a preautionary step:
Neuheisel was less concerned about Maiava, who watched from the sideline the last part of practice. Ryan Taylor took over center on the first team and Jake Dean was center on the second team.
"It was precautionary," Neuheisel said. "He just has a sore shoulder, which is the nature of the beast when you're in the trenches."
Now the good news is accorting to practice observers the offense continues to look decent. According to Jeff_is_smiling who has been posting detailed practice reports on BruinGold and other UCLA boards for years, there was a lot of "positive energy" by the offense throughout the practice:
On the good side, and it was VERY good (at least to me) was the swagger the offense seems to have at this point. There was a very good, positive energy by the offense throughout the practice. The defense played well, so they didn't make every play, but the offense definitely made plays. between this morning and this afternoons practices, I saw more athletic plays out of the offense than I saw all last year in all the practices I saw. Throws made to the only spot where the defender cannot get to. Routes run well and excellent grabs made to snag the rock. More time given to the QB to get the throw off.
In past years, I always felt that ANY success by the offense against the defense was noteworthy. Now, even successful plays are not good enough for the offensive coaches. We have come a LONG way in a short period of time.
You can read more specifics from Jeff over here. No doubt the energy level is up due the infusion of new talent. And we can see that in the WR spot. Jill Painter reports how Ketchum, Rosario, Carroll and Marvray are in the thick of competing for three of top five recivers post (Austin and Embree has the other two locked up):
Gavin Ketchum and Rosario Nelson have the inside track on two of the others, although Ketchum is out with a tight hamstring.
"I don't want to say we were lacking last year, but we're more complete now, if that makes sense," Austin said.
"I think both Ricky and Carroll complete us. Carroll adds a deep aspect, and we can stretch the field on one side.
Ricky runs pretty good routes for him to be a freshman. He can help out with the stuff underneath and the intermediate routes."
These guys are getting everything they can handle from their defensive team-mates. To get a sense of how charged up our DBs are read the following comment from walkon CB Andrew Abbott in the LAT (emphasis added):
Andrew Abbott, a walk-on cornerback, reestablished himself quickly in full-contact drills after returning from a concussion Wednesday.
He spent most of both practices on the first team as the nickel back.
"Working with the first team as the nickel is a good way for me to get on the field right now," Abbott said. "I'll do special teams, I'll do anything. I just want to play."
No wonder there is a sense of energy in practices we haven't felt in years. The fun gets started again today at 3:00 pm PST. There is only an afternoon practice today. Coaches will have two practices tomorrow before putting together the scrimmage at Drake (5:00 pm) on Saturday. I know I would get out there to check out these guys if I lived near LA. Hope many of you can do the same and can share the stories with rest of us.