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Spaulding Roundup: Another Intense Effort On Day 6 Of UCLA's Spring Practice

As mentioned in the fanshot below (with CRN's post practice video comments) Bruins have the day off from practice today. They will get back in action tomorrow morning (around 11 am PST) during which they will have a full scrimmage. The scrimmage I got to watch on Thursday was pretty intense. It sounds like the Bruins sustained that intensity through Friday (as CRN sounded pretty pleased with the effort he got out of his team).

From the reports (and now from what I saw with my own eyes) it does appear that the offense is getting a measure of confidence against our defense (which hadn't been the case in recent past). From tWWL's Blair Angulo:

The first-unit offense dominated the first-unit defense during the red zone portion of practice. After speeding past linebacker Akeem Ayers down the middle of the field, tight end Joseph Fauria caught a perfect pass from Kevin Prince for a touchdown. Fauria proceeded to shake hands with a fan sitting in the front row of the bleachers, which received a few laughs from those in attendance. Prince exposed Ayers again on the very next play, lacing a soft lob to tight end Cory Harkey in the corner for another touchdown. Ayers got redemption later, intercepting a short dump off by Prince and taking it all the way back for an imaginary score.

Blair also posted Akeem's comments on the action:

Before moving on, I should add that Blair's blogging on spring football this year has been pretty excellent and I think when he has had the time to show up at Spaulding, he has easily filed the best report among all Bruin beat writers. Good to see a Bruin (I think Blair still writes for the Daily Bruin) is making his mark early on because we need more of our guys working in the traditional media sports scene in LA.

Going back to the report though the competition between Fauria/Harkey and Ayers is pretty fun to read. It's been a while Ayers has probably faced real athleticism and size from our TE position. More notes after the jump.

Blair alluded to the action featuring Fauria and Ayers. Fauria had a solid day after coming back from a nagging injury. From the Daily News:

At 6 feet 7 and 250 pounds, the redshirt sophomore offers Prince a big target and hauled in a couple of touchdowns Thursday.

"It's my first time playing real football in a year and a week. It's just great," said Fauria, who had 35 receptions for 516 yards with eight touchdowns as a senior at Crespi. "I love being with this team. It's a really close group of guys. We're an up-and-coming program. I'm really stoked being part of the solution."

Fauria's high school team-mate - Kevin Prince - has been having a lot of fun with the pistol offense this early spring:

Prince has been enjoying the freestyling nature of the offense, comparing it with the on-field flexibility demonstrated by one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks.

"It kind of makes you feel like you're Peyton Manning and out there barking signals and stuff," Prince said. "I joke about that, but we have some Peyton Manning film that we watch, and it's good to be able to watch him and mimic him and see how he does things and how he uses his eyes and his feet.

"It's not a pro-style type offense, but on the collegiate level I think it's very effective because of the way we can make the defense respect the run as well as the pass."

Per the LA Times Bruins "have run nothing but the "pistol" offense this spring, using it without a huddle."  The explanation CRN provided makes sense to me:

Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "We'll make some decision Sunday as to how we want to proceed the next week. Then we'll do it again the following week."

Neuheisel said the offense will "tune up some of the stuff we already know how to do.

If there is a right time to add wrinkles in the offensive scheme and try out creative schemes, this would be it. I don't really see any kind of cause of concern from UCLA primarily focusing on the "pistol" offense early in spring. It sure sounds like the players have been really enjoying playing in it. I am guessing it also helps the kids staying motivated and excited, which has resulted in sustained intensity and excitement during practices which hadn't been evident during previous regime.

As for injuries here is the latest update from the OC Register. Josh Smith is not going to have surgery for his torn PCL but will sit out rest of the spring. Nick Abele is out indefinitely with his stinger. Don't think there is any need to rush him back because stinger injuries are something that shouldn't be messed around with. Andy Keane (DT) has torn ligament in his finger and will need surgery. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the injury is minimal for rest of this spring.

So if you around LA tomorrow you should head out to Spaulding for practice. I can now say from experience that these scrimmages are pretty fun to watch. Definitely way more interesting than dosing off to 160+ game baseball season, slogging through never ending NBA/NHL playoffs or hearing about the talking heads saturated TVee babbling about green jackets and mistresses.