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Spaulding Roundup: More Stanford Game Prep Notes & Harbaugh's Views On UCLA

Bruins continue to pound away at each other at Spaulding to get ready for Stanford this Saturday.  Coaches have been using the huge freshman fullback Jayson Allmond from the scout team to play the role of Gerhart all week long to get our defense ready for Saturday.  The OC Register reports on Allmond's week at Spaulding:

Fullback Jayson Allmond remembers playing against Stanford running back Toby Gerhart when the two were in high school. Allmond starred at Bloomington High while Gerhart did the same at Norco.

The Bruins' coaching staff is happy that Allmond was paying attention back then.

The 6-0, 266-pound Allmond is playing the role of Gerhart (6-1, 235) at practice this week, in an effort to help the UCLA defense prepare for the real deal when the Bruins travel to Stanford on Saturday.

"I run harder, and I run more downhill than I usually do," Allmond said of his Gerhart impression. "He comes downhill harder than most running backs I've seen in the NCAA."

Allmond has the flexibility to move laterally when he carries the ball, but he's under orders, from the UCLA coaching staff, to shelve that part of his repertoire for now.

"They tell me to run downhill more — come straight at the hole and run through everybody — because that's what he does," Allmond said. "He's very hard to bring down. He's not somebody you really want to go up high with. You have to go at least to his ankles because his legs are just as strong as his upper body. He's a big guy and a force to tackle."

I think Allmond is going to end up redshirting this season. But he sounds like the kind of fullback who is Norm Chow's dream. He is flexibile enough to stretch it out (in addition to blasting through the hole) and if he develops the ball catching ability in the coming year, he could present another matchup nightmare bowling over CBs in the coming years. For this week though it sounds like Allmond is having fun making his contribution to this week's game prep.

While our defense is getting ready for Gerhart and co. on the other side of the field our OL is hoping it will be able to continue the improvement so far this season. So far this season  Xavier Su'a-Filo, Baca, Kai Maiava, Eddie Williams and Mike Harris haves started all of our games, matching the last year's total of 3 straight starts of Baca-Savage-Dean-Glicksberg-Ekbatani (starting at week 4). So the guys are little ahead this year per Jon Gold in the Daily News:

The offensive line might be the most important group that has that continuity," UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. "They just all have to be on the same page. The communication that's going on in the trenches is huge, and when you get good at it, you start using dummy calls, and then the defense really doesn't know what the heck's going on."

With backups including Ekbatani and freshman Stanley Hasiak in the mix — Ekbatani returns this week after suffering a knee sprain in training camp — the coaches now have to find a way to mix guys in without sacrificing permanence.

"You still want to keep competition going — that's always going to be the hallmark of a program — but you have to be able to count on guys," Neuheisel said. "When another guy comes in, it's like a badge of honor to be part of it." [...]

With the addition of freshman Su'a-Filo, redshirt sophomore Maiava and redshirt junior Williams, the talent is certainly better.

But, Harris says, it's Maiava making the most difference.

"Playing especially with Kai Maiava, he's such a good center," Harris said. "That's what we were missing — that leadership role on the line. He's been taking that role, and I'm proud of him."

The line will have a challenge against a decent Stanford defense on Saturday afternoon, that thoroughly manhandled the Washington OL and Jake Locker.

Meanwhile up in Bay Area, Jim Harbaugh is doing a solid Lou Holtz impression this week building up the UCLA defense:

"That's the way we're seeing things. This is the best defensive line we've played, there's no question about it. This is the best three linebackers we've played against and the best secondary we've played against. Without a doubt this is the best defense we've played against."

And talking up Kevin Craft:

"I always had a lot of respect for him. I always thought he was their best quarterback. I always figured that he would be the quarterback that we'd be seeing. He's resourceful. I think he's very talented. He's athletic, he's a smart guy and he made some really big plays for them last year. And I'm not just talking about our game although he did very well. He threw for two touchdowns, including the game-winner, and 200 and it seemed like 50 yards or something. But other games too. I've seen him in hanging in the pocket and he made big-time throws. Just from my perspective, I really believe he's their best quarterback."

Well what can I say here that hasn't been said already. We love Kevin's heart and committment to UCLA. I will defer to our coaches for their decision to start Craft, but let's just say I don't think anyone here will agree with Harbaugh's observations re. who is the best QB in UCLA's roster. There was a reason why Prince became the starter and it became pretty obvious in his first two starts as a redshirt freshmen at UCLA.

We are just hoping somehow someway Kevin can get the job done this week in terms of managing the game and give our team the best chance to win.