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Spaulding Roundup: Friday Scrimmage, RB Competition, Austin's Leadership & Other Notes

Let's start our Friday roundup with a quick note on the scrimmage the team is going to have this afternoon. The Bruins were going to have the scrimmage at the Rose Bowl today. Unfortunately CRN had to cancel the Rose Bowl scrimmage because of heat and fires in Southern California . Bruins will have the scrimmage on campus instead (which will be closed to the public).

Coach Chow is looking for a "good clean scrimmage" today:

"We've spent some time on San Diego State, but we're playing against our own guys. We have to switch gears a little bit, transition into 'camp' football. Hopefully we'll be enthusiastic and sound, manage the game pretty well. It doesn't matter what you score; these guys know each other and are tired of hitting each other. We want a good clean scrimmage."

He is also seeing a difference wrt to team's depth this year:

"I think there's a huge difference; Rick did a great job with recruiting. We've got competition in spots on offense. They're young and enthusiastic, and they really want to do well."

The enthusiasm is certainly evident in Jonathan-Franklin's excited mindset heading into this season:

"It's huge. You never know how long you may play into a season or when your last play may be," redshirt freshman running back Johnathan Franklin said. "But we have a group of talented people, so if one falls we have another one who can come in and do the same thing.

"In practice, all we do is compete with one another, and we're all getting better and better."

Particularly at running back, where carries are being doled out like pats on the back.

Franklin is working with the starting unit in the absence of redshirt junior Christian Ramirez, still out with a high ankle sprain but off crutches. Sophomore Derrick Franklin is getting plenty of touches, as is redshirt freshman Milton Knox. [...]

"Every day, our running backs are each getting five or six reps a day, and we have five or six running backs," Franklin said. "The O-line, look how many we have. It's a good thing to do; everybody is prepared, and whenever somebody gets that opportunity they'll be ready."

Should be interesting to hear the reports out of today's scrimmage and find out how Franklin, Coleman, Knox and Thigpen perform in a new rotation (that doesn't include Ramirez). Going up against first team defense is lot different than excelling against second and third team during scrimmages. So I am anxious to hear how they handle added responsbilities today. I think they are going to be up for the challenge. They certainly seems to have the requiste enthusiasm. More on other youngsters and team notes after the jump.

Competition has also been fierce among the freshmen WRs to fill up the spots next to Austin and Embree in the rotation. Chris Foster from the LAT reports how Austin has embraced his mentor role this season:

The Bruins' young receivers don’t have to ask twice. Freshmen Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray pick Austin’s brain. Antwon Moutra is his roommate and, Austin says, "We stay up late at night talking about being receivers."

As role models go, Austin is an A-lister. He led the team with 53 receptions in 2008, and will look to become the first receiver to have back-to-back 50-catch seasons since Craig Bragg in 2002-003. He also set a UCLA record with 1,109 kickoff return yards in 2008 -- though it is a less-than-positive stat as it shows how many times the Bruins received kickoffs after opponents scored. [...]

"He's an experienced guy who has been through the wars," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "He knows how to handle the dips. Anybody can handle the good times. It’s the dips you have to learn to deal with.

"You don’t always see a senior do that. They are sometimes into themselves, trying to get to the next level."

Austin enjoys the responsibility.

"The guys have questions and I want to give them the answers," Austin said. "That’s what you do when you’ve been here so long."

It will be very interesting to see how Austin performs himself this season. I think his numbers at UCLA could have been much more impressive last two years (they are still solid to begin with) if we had gotten average quarterbacking and a competent performance from the OL.

So many times we saw Austin making acrobatic catches or trying to make best out of situations with poorly thrown balls. He is also fearless (and people just have to look up the scary highlights of Oregon game from last year). It would be awesome if Prince can find him and other receivers in stride, so that they can take it to the house.

Lastly, a silly report in the LAT about whether CRN should start twittering like Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin:

As for toddling down the Twitter/video blog road, Neuheisel said, "We're learning the technology. I have a guy who is as contemporary as anybody." But, he added, "I don't want to do it just to say, 'I'm doing it because Pete Carroll did it.' I want to do it because it is the right thing to do."

As for how much this will change the recruiting landscape, Neuheisel, who took a helicopter ride to see a recruit play last year, thinks the personal touch remains the best.

No one here is more stronger advocate of UCLA athletics immersing itself into the world of new media than yours truly. Yet even I completely agree with CRN that he shouldn't jump into a specific technology just because everyone else is doing it. If Rick Neuheisel and other UCLA coaches want to experiment with twittering and blogging, they should be well versed in the medium first and then use it strategically so that it makes sense for their respective programs. It's kind of ridiculous when certain coaches try out twittering and blogging, just so they could get process stories (looky here! I am so cool!! I am twittering about what music I listen to!) out of it in the press. That's just silly.

I think Coach Howland has done it pretty well as he has been twittering every now and then with information that actually is helpful (such as former Ben Ball warriors showing up on campus to talk to current ones or telling us what tournaments he is checking out) to a Ben Ball junkie.  Anyway, I think time for that will come for CRN and I am sure he will be smart about it.