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Spaulding Roundup: ATV Aces It & More Notes On Our Frontlines

Well it's kind of tough to pivot back to football after my previous post. But I have in pretty good authority is that is exactly what EZ would do (and I know he was reading this blog religiously every am especially during those brutal Dorrell years). We will start with someone who has reminded all of us what Bruin student athletes are all about: ATV. I guess I thought ATV was done with blogging this past week since school was winding down but I was wrong. He has one more update from his 2009 summer with the following note on how did in that Romanian class he took. He aced it:

Today I found out I received an A in the class. That means all the five hour days every day for six weeks paid off. I am done with my foreign language requirement now and have just nine more classes until I have earned my BA from UCLA

What else did you expect right? Well while his chances of success on the football field is pretty good as well this year, there is one game in which he has been coming out on the losing end. Apparently his girlfiend has been running laps around him in pool. You will have to read the full details here.

Moving on let's talk about ATV's team-mates on both sides of the line. More after the jump.

We will pick up where we left off yesterday: the OL. Al Balderas from the OC Register posted few interesting comments from our OL about why they are expecting a better season this year:

"We were pretty light up front last year as a whole, so that created mismatches for us," lineman Nick Ekbatani said in an e-mail. "I don’t believe that will be a problem for us this season. Guys have worked hard and coach Linn has done a tremendous job helping us get stronger.

"It was as if there was a new culture created this offseason in the weight room and on the field. I know these gains will allow us to create some mismatches this year, as opposed to being mismatched."

That’s not all.

Sophomore Jeff Baca and senior Micah Kia gained experience from last season, and redshirt sophomore (and transfer from Colorado) Kai Maiava should compete for a starting spot on the O-line.

"I thought guys like (redshirt juniors) Jake Dean and Brandon Bennett showed some noticeable improvement (at spring camp), Ekbatani added.

Well I know everyone is feeling optimistic. So am I. When the new depth chart comes out we will have to match up the weights from this past spring with August. We will probably see some gains. However, I am still going to remain a bit skeptical because I feel like I have read this kind of feel good off-season story every year. My biggest question right now around this unit is toughness and it will be interesting to see how they come out in the first few games.

It seems like Coach Todd Howard is striking the same note with regards to cautious optimis while talking about his students - linemen from other side of the ball. He gave a very interesting interview to Robert Kuwada from Bruin Report Online (formerly the UCLA beat writer for the OC Register) sounding off about this year's DL. Since the article is not behind a subscription firewall here is an excerpt on Howard's cautious optimism:

"I’m always optimistic and I always think the new group is going to do better than the group previously, though that remains to be seen."

That does remain to be seen, but, for the record, Howard believes this defensive line can be very good, the ends just as productive as Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman were in his first year in Westwood when they tied for fourth in the nation in sacks and earned All-American honors.   

"The guys that I have this year I think have a chance to be as good as those two guys," Howard said, of Bosworth and sophomore Datone Jones.

"I think both of them will have a shot at double-digit sacks. If they can stay healthy throughout the 12 games and hopefully a bowl game, they will get double-digit sacks. You’ve got Datone, who is bigger than Hickman and faster the Hickman. He’s a sophomore, so that’s the only thing – you have to see if it clicks for him, but he’s working hard.

"Then you have Korey Boz, who is every bit as fast as Bruce Davis was. He’s stronger than Bruce Davis. He might not be as flexible as Bruce Davis, but that was something I told him at the end of the spring that he needed to work on. I felt like had he not had a few misses here and there, he would have had double-digit sacks last year …as it was, he had 7 ½.

"I think a guy like Brian Price should get seven or eight inside. And Jerzy (Siewierski) has a better finesse game than Brigham Harwell, and he might be the best athlete of all them."

You can read rest of the interview with Howard here.

It is going to be a treat to see these guys go up against each other for few weeks starting next Monday. While I am going to wait for now to get completely optimistic about this coming soon, I am looking forward to reading about the competiton that is going to take place in Spaulding. It is going to be fierce for the first time in a very long time in Westwood.