Bruins returned to practice yesterday at Spaulding. There are still two games left in this season and the Bruins technically still have a shot against getting into a bowl game by taking on two teams that have had their own share of on field issues this season. So while the local reporters are swarming over storylines that really doesn't have to do anything with the game, we will try our best to keep the focus on how the team is getting ready for Arizona State. There will be plenty of time to discuss coaching personnel issues once all the data points are in at the end of this regular season.
The biggest concern heading into this game week has been the health of Richard Brehaut. Looks like he went through an "entire practice" yesterday in "red no-contact jersey":
Quarterback Richard Brehaut, who left the Washington game because of a concussion, went through the entire practice though he wore a red no-contact jersey. He said he'd wear red again Tuesday, but that he should be cleared for full contact Wednesday and is expecting to play Friday against Arizona State.
Does the "no-contact" jersey have to be red? Can't it be gold or green or orange? Does it have to be red? Just sayin. Jon Gold has some more bits and pieces on what actually transpired at practice:
* Richard Brehaut practiced in a red jersey as expected as he goes through the concussion protocol. Nothing too good or bad today out of him. Hit some throws, missed a couple, didn't see any major drops really.
* Joseph Fauria saw a little more action than usual at tight end and had a couple nice grabs.
* Dalton Hilliard and Dietrich Riley got extensive work at the two safety spots during 7-on-7s. [...]
* Johnathan Franklin and Malcolm Jones got the majority of reps at running back, and Derrick Coleman seems to be getting less and less.
Well the coaches need to figure out another solution at TE besides Corey Harkey. From what we have seen this year from Fauria he hasn't been proficient in blocking and he is not exactly the most physical athlete out there. I wonder whether it is feasible for coaches to move Morell Presley back to the TE spot. You'd think reporters would pose questions like that but they are too busy ginning up he said/he said awkward storylines that have nothing to do with game, scheme or personnel use.
The news about Hilliard and Riley getting more extensive work at the safety spot is encouraging because would love to see those guys more on the field. Moreover, given the fact that we are talking on a spread defense this week, we will probably need to use the nickel package a lot and in that case it would good to have our best combination of athletes and hitters on the field. Both Riley and Hiliard figure into that equation prominently. More after the jump.
Here are Coach Rick Neuheisel's comments after practice:
He means well but can't blame folks if they are rolling their eyes at this point when hearing about "spirited" practices. His comment about wanting to redshirt Darius Bell was interesting. Perhaps Bell was so focused on red-shirting he was not preparing well mentally each game week (hard to do in any case). Hopefully after last Thursday's situation Bell is going to be a little more attentive during these practices.
As for our opponent, ESPNLA's Peter Yoon posted his "first look" at ASU:
Arizona State features a spread offense led by quarterback Steven Threet. The Sun Devils are 18th in the nation in passing offense with 278.6 yards passing per game and Threet is second in the Pac 10 with 253 yards passing per game.
But while Arizona State's offense has been formidable, its defense has been suspect. The Sun Devils have given up 34.8 points per game in their five Pac-10 losses. The inability of the defense to come through in the clutch is a major reason the Sun Devils have struggled in those close games.
Oregon scored 14 fourth-quarter points to pull away for a 42-31 victory. USC drove 68 yards and kicked an eventual game-winning field goal with 3:53 to play. Stanford drove 85 yards and scored a game-winning touchdown with 5:14 to play.
To ASU's credit though - as mentioned yesterday - they had a pretty solid outing against Stanford. That's the game they probably would have won if they had not made dumb mistakes on both sides of the field (sounds just like our guys). The Sun Devils should not have any problem getting up for their game. Here is Coach Dennis Erickson's comments on UCLA:
I wonder why is it so difficult for the stooges in the LA Times and the OC Register to pull up this kind of video and share it with their readers instead of obsessing over shallow drama that has nothing to do with the actual game.
Anyway, for the Bruins to have a shot on Friday, we are going to need to play a clean game without making any major mistakes, while also be ready to pounce on whatever opportunities we get courtesy of a mistake prone Sun Devils team. We could have beaten the Huskies if we had pounced on Aaron Hester's interception, if Tony Dye held on what appeared to be a potential pick-6, and I guess do basic things like catching, blocking and tackling. :-)
Bruins will have another shot in taking the sting off what has been a bitterly disappointing regular season. Hopefully the "spirited" practice results show up a little on game days. We are all tired of waiting.