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Spaulding Roundup: Brehaut Taking Charge, Boosting Practice Tempo & Other UCLA Notes

Again, thank you to everyone who stepped up for Tyler yesterday on BN. We have built up a lot of good memories on BN over the years. Yesterday had to be one of the most memorable to date. Of course nothing that happens here has any impact on the game (despite all our silly superstitions, which we will not deviate from). Still, I'd like to think what happened yesterday gives us some perspective and put all of us in an uplifting frame of mind heading into Saturday. Now if somehow Bruins pull out a win this weekend, it will mean that insomniac will have to start blogging here every game week from here on out.  

As for the team, all eyes remain locked on Richard Brehaut. He had another up and down practice yesterday. Still Jon Gold reports that Brehaut is starting to "take control of the huddle":

He strode in and out of the huddle during Tuesday's practice, barking instructions at his teammates and doling out compliments and criticisms. They responded by clapping and yelling encouragement, one of the louder practices on the offensive side this season.

"Shoot, it takes a lot of poise to be the guy, and a lot of patience not knowing if you're going to be the guy, so this is a big confidence booster for Brehaut," junior wide receiver Taylor Embree said. "Today he took that vocal leadership role in the huddle. He got on guys. He's definitely different. You can see it, the look in his eye, the tone in his voice, he's really taking control of the huddle.

"He knows this is his offense now."

Brehaut on his part sounds humble and confident:

"This has been a long time coming," Brehaut said. "Throughout my career, people have asked me, `Are you going to transfer? You guys are the same year, so what's going to happen?' But I've always honestly just said it will all work out.

"Unfortunately, it working out for me means Kevin's out for the year. Kevin's one of my best friends and I feel for him, but everyone understands that football is a violent game and these things happen.

"I think I'm absolutely ready for this, to take on the challenges of being the guy, day in and day out."

I think it is going to take another couple of games to Brehaut to develop his rhythm (hell, it took Cade McNown two years as we have noted here number of times). What I do appreciate is his humility and sense of perspective when he is talking to the media (which is often a pretty important role for a QB as he is the on-field "leader" figure in public sphere).

I thought it was pretty interesting how the team responded to his leadership during the Washington State game, when the Bruins had to march over 90+ yards for the go ahead touchdown late in second half. It is going to be tough against an Arizona team with a solid defense and without our LT and two key receivers. However, I like what I am hearing out of Brehaut leading into Saturday.

Despite the positive vibes around Brehaut, the practice review continues to be a mixed bag:

Quarterback Richard Brehaut made some good deep throws in individual drills and hit a very nice touchdown pass to Randall Carroll  in the back of the end zone during seven-on-seven, but he also made a few poor throws that sailed or landed short. Also, the receiving corps didn't help with at least half a dozen drops -- several by Jerry Johnson and one bad one by Morrell Presley.

That was from Peter Yoon of ESPNLA. Interestingly Jon Gold had a different impression of Jerry Johnson (perhaps Peter had numbers mixed up?):

Jerry Johnson had a very good practice, and continues to show that he deserves more of a look. At this point, with no wideout really stepping into a star role, practice becomes all the more important, and he's been very consistent for a couple weeks now. Video with him up tomorrow morning.

Gold though corroborated Yoon's account of a mixed performance from Brehaut:

Sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut continues to progress as the new starter, but the old demons still creep up occasionally. For every pretty deep ball was a confounding pass, either into coverage or forced to a wideout. Timing is improving, though there continue to be some issues.

Speaking of mixed performance, apparently the practice was lacking "a bit of energy" at the start. So per Gold Rick Neuheisel "interrupted practice" to get the team together and give them a "pep talk" (guessing he lit into them). Apparently it worked as practice became more spirited and physical. Here is Neuheisel after practice talking about what took place and responding to other queries:

Per Yoon, apparently CRN "spent extra time working with the defense" something he usually doesn't.  As Neuheisel mentioned in the video above it was due to him wanting to "make sure that they understand" that he was looking for "some tempo" and that he is "watching everything". Per Neuheisel, the defense "responded." Guess we will see what happens on Saturday.

The defense is getting ready this week without having any idea who they are going to face at the QB position. From the LA Times on UCLA defenders preparing for either Nick Foles or Matt Scott:

"It won't be a big adjustment that we'll have to make at game time," UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "But we have to be aware of the one guy, because if he gets out of the pocket, he can make things happen running." [...]

Then there was defensive tackle David Carter's solution.

"We'll just make whoever it is play our game," Carter said. "We're going out there and get pressure on him."

Yeah, a little pressure would be nice David. Hopefully Chuck Bullough can dial it up.