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Spaulding Roundup: The Bruin Family, Injury Updates, Predictable Offense & Other UCLA Notes

Wrote yesterday about UCLA having a very energetic practice following last weekend's nail biter win over Oregon State. Well from reports it sounds like not only the Bruins maintained their intensity, our team got yet another powerful emotional boost. I will just let this YouTube video tell the story (HT insomniac for linking up BruinTV):

If that doesn't get your eyes a little misty and give you goose bumps as a Bruin, well you are probably not human. :-)

While Tyler has now become our inspiration and the response from everyone in this community has been nothing short of overwhelming, we have to tip our hat to Coach Rick Neuheisel, and the entire Morgan Center. They (along with our basketball staff from both men and women's programs) have gone way far and beyond than what they could have done to connect with the heart and soul of Bruins Nation.

We will always have our day to day "issues" and complaints about micro stuff like playcalls, uniforms, direction of the program.  Last few days just left no doubt in my mind how the coaches and officials at Morgan Center are doing what they can to keep their pulse on this community.That is ultimately the macro stuff which is being in touch with the blue and gold spirit that ultimately holds all of us together through the rough stretches and through the usual Bruin glory. It is deeply appreciated and it is beautiful see the UCLA family coming together and connecting in such powerful ways.

Okay, now back to bitch!n! Well, not really. You will notice from the video above, Scott Reid from the OC Register was trying to get a little tricky and concern troll about scuffles breaking out in a competitive practice. Apparently the defense and offense have been going at it last two days and it has been intense with linemen pushing and shoving each other. As Neuheisel mentioned as long as none of this skirmishes get "personal" and "escalate" they are not big deals. In fact, they shows signs of a team that is really fired up and maintaining its intensity. Of course guys like Reid are looking for any angles to concern troll about signs of disciplinary issues in this program that doesn't exist. It's kind of pathetic.

As for practice here are some of the highlights via Jon Gold:

* Akeem Ayers finally seems to be emerging from his month-long coma. He was so banged up all over for so long that he kind of lost that spark, that nose for the ball - I think he was having a hard time ignoring everything and just playing like he plays - but it was there on Wednesday. He had two near-picks, and was tossing guys around.

* Richard Brehaut continues to throw better and better, with more authority every day. He's not always on-point, but the confidence is getting there. That being said, Darius Bell had a pretty good practice, too, and they're trying to get him some extra work.

And via Peter Yoon:

There were more promising flashes from true freshman tailback Malcolm Jones, who appears to have shaken an ankle issue that was bothering him a few weeks ago. Neuheisel said the extra practice time is allowing him to give Jones more work. "And he's responding," Neuheisel added. Starter Johnathan Franklin  has also noticed Jones' improvement. "He's working hard in practice, pretty much," Franklin said. "When you work hard, it pays off. He's going to be a great running back."

All of those are encouraging bits. You should also  read up rest of Yoon's notes to get updates on injuries, which essentially reiterates the information Neuheisel gave in the video.

Looks like we might not get Larimore back rest of this season as he may or may not have surgery (I think at this point we have had at least 15 players who have had surgeries this season, a number which is kind of mind boggling). In Larimore's absence, Jordan Zumwalt has stepped up in a big way. His position coach Clark Lea made observed the following in the OC Register:

"A couple of errors there as you would expect of a true freshman middle linebacker, a guy who's only been playing the position two weeks," UCLA linebacker coach Clark Lea said.

"But I think he compensated for those errors by playing fast, playing with energy and making plays when his number was called. Real proud of what he did."[...]

"The first thing he did for us is he brought tremendous energy to the field," Lea said. "I 'm really proud of the way he prepared himself in the week. And that preparation allowed him to go out there and let loose and have fun playing.

Hopefully Zum will continue to maintain that energy level and unleash it in Seattle, where the Huskies are wrapped up this week's practice before coming back under the lights on Saturday Night (Bruins in contrast will practice this am and then come back on Sunday). Here are the Husky injury updates from the Seattle Times:

--- Jake Locker, as anticipated, did not practice. Asked about his status for practicing and playing next week, Sarkisian said: "We don't know. We'll know Saturday.''

--- RB Jesse Callier also sat out with a shoulder injury Sarkisian said "he's fine. He's just a little beat up, and I don't want him to take the unnecessary hits this week. He'll be back and ready to go Saturday.''

--- DE Talia Crichton also remains out, though Sarkisian said there's a chance he can return: "I don't know yet. He's come a long way in a short amount of time. We are going to get a really good assessment of him Saturday again. If he's ready to go, we'll play him. If he's not, I'd rather him get another good week of rehab and rest, and then have him ready for the last two.''

Sarkasian also made the following comment about UCLA's (predictable) offense:

UCLA has a different QB with Richard Brehaut replacing the injured Kevin Prince. But Sarkisian said it doesn't really change UW's preparation. "They're running their same offense since he's been in,'' he said. "They weren't throwing a whole bunch before that, and haven't much since. They're relying on the run. They're good at it. They believe in it. They really chew up the clock, and keep you on the sidelines. They get into some manageable third-and-shorts where they can convert and keep drives alive. They've got a real game plan, and they've been sticking to it.''

Hmm. Sounds like a coach who is getting ready to devise a defensive game plan that will be focused on stopping the run. I wonder if Norm Chow will anticipate the stacked box (and perhaps assign a LB the specific role to "spy" on Brehaut) and come out with his own tweaks and then subsequent adjustments  depending on how the Huskies defend the first couple of series.

Chow will definitely have the advantages in terms of chess pieces when taking on the Huskies. Hope he plays it right, taking a lathered up crowd out of the game early. Bruins will need to come out with a focused purpose, attacking the Huskies early and often. We need to get this done.

Lastly, want to wish everyone here - especially all the Bruin veterans - a very Happy Veterans Day. God bless all the brave men and women who have served us and continue to serve us, to preserve everything we cherish about those three letters.