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Spaulding Roundup: Rick Neuheisel's Toplines On Spring Ball

<em>Photo Credit: <a href="" target="new">dabruins07 (flickr)</a></em>
Photo Credit: dabruins07 (flickr)

Almost there guys. Spring practice officially starts tomorrow at Spaulding. Once again if you need to get the schedule of practices go over to the official site to get the details for next two weeks, culminating with the Annual Spring game at the Rose Bowl on April 24th. Really hope many of you will be able to make it out that Spring game and practices over two weeks and share with us your impressions and updates concerning the observations around our depth chart we have gone over in recent weeks.

Coach Rick Neuheisel met with the media earlier this week and gave us his toplines heading into spring practice:

"Spring is sprung here at UCLA and it's as always an exciting time. You look forward to kind of building your team, start with the basics in speed development, get to test it out on the field, take all the info gathered from those two things, and then you come and whittle that into shape as you start the season. This is a big piece of the puzzle and one we're very excited about. It's not just to learn who you are and what you have. It's about really testing things out and finding out exactly who's going to be capable of being a stalwart for you. We're very, very excited. The intensity needs to go up in comparison to springs before. Hopeful we'll see progress."

It sounds like CRN and his staff will make another attempt to bottle up the "over the wall" "tradition" this spring:

UCLA-logo "There can be no ‘over the wall' this spring," Neuheisel said. "It absolutely has to be 15 practices where we let the fur fly."

Spring practice begins Thursday, and Neuheisel made it clear that the Bruins' quasi-tradition of going over the wall to skip one practice will no longer be acceptable. [...]

The "over the wall day" has made appearances twice in his time as coach, in spring practice two years ago and again during preparations for the EagleBank Bowl in December.

In both cases, Neuheisel and his staff were unhappy, but had to grin and bear it. Not this spring, as the cover on offensive play book reads, "It's time."

 "That's a selfish thing, because you have to go out and show you deserve to be on the field, and that's a team thing, because  it's time to come together and get better," tight end Joseph Fauria said.

I think that sounds encouraging but at this point I don't think it's as big of a deal when the story first popped up two years ago and then this past December. I myself made a big deal out of it heading into the Eagle Bank Bowl in DC. I thought at that point of time "over the wall" shenanigans would impact the preparation and focus of our team. Given what I saw in first hand in DC, it seemed guys like Reggie Carter, Terrence Austin, Chane Moline, Bosworth brothers and Brian Price were pretty locked in.

Of course I think the stunt is silly in terms of "tradition" but at this point instead of worrying about that issue the focus needs to be on how the team is coming along in terms of talented development and competition in each spots. I do like the comment from Fauria as I hope it is indicative of the mindset of the new guys assuming leadership role in this program. More from CRN's press conference after the jump.

CRN talked about how his returning players even with the ones who have gained good experience need to let their "fur fly" this spring:

"There's a number of guys who have proven themselves and we're fortunate they're back. On defense, you point to Rahim Moore who has 13 interceptions in two seasons. Akeem Ayers has made countless big plays. Those two guys will be at the forefront of what we do defensively. David Carter has to pick up where he left off. Datone Jones has to do a great job up front. Those guys are going to help bring along guys with less experience so we can play our typical UCLA defense. Prince, Rosario, Embree have all made a lot of plays. Cory Harkey, even though he's going into his second spring here, he has a lot of experience. Four-fifths of our offensive line is coming back. There is experience. But I think we are in a place in our development where we have to let our fur fly. We've got to see who can do exactly what needs to be done."

He talked about how the coaches are going to "going to try a lot of combinations":

"I don't want anyone to think of first string, second string. I want them to think of being a player on this team. We're going to try a lot of combinations - maybe not so much in the offensive line where we'll play with strings - but everywhere else, we're going to put players in there. See who can rise to the opportunity. I don't want quarterbacks to go with certain receivers. I want to see which wide receivers can jump to the front, quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, whoever gets the chance, and see if they belong at that level."

And he sound at peace with a stable situation at QB:

"The position you usually worry being settled in spring the most in that regards is at quarterback," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "But I think we got a quarterback that is coming off a fairly successful freshman season.

‘That's not to say Richard Brehaut can't scratch and claw his way into the race. I expect him to do that and would be disappointed if he didn't."

Prince had a strong finish to the season and "deserves to be No. 1," Neuheisel said. Brehaut's biggest issue, Neuheisel said, is, "coming to an understanding what we're trying to accomplish. He memorizes things well, but when things don't go as planned and something catches his attention, too many of the little things are forgotten or misplaced."

For more on CRN's comments to the media read up tWWL's Ted Miller's bullet points over here.

In terms of the QB situation, as discussed previously it would be ideal is for both Brehaut and Nick Crissman to take few steps forward and UCLA be in position next season in which we only have to call on Crissman for mop up duties late in second half. If we can have a season that will enable us to redshirt Brehaut, we will be set for a while. From what I have read and heard about Brehaut he seems to be in the right kind of "team mindset" that he would make him open to go along with that kind of long rage thinking.

It will be interesting to hear how Brehaut looks this spring. My hope is for all of these guys to have a strong and healthy couple of weeks. Can't wait to read about it hopefully starting tomorrow right here on BN. You guys are going to get us more pictures via flickr or post them right here on BN. Right?