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Spaulding Roundup: Spring "Opportunities" & Other UCLA Football Notes

Bruins began their last week of spring practice yesterday. Sounds like it got off to a rough start as practice was marred with dropped balls and sloppy plays. Coach Rick Neuheisel addressed the issue without being prompted to start his post practice comments:

Perhaps the spring practice has become a bit of a grind heading into its last week. Yet CRN's comments made it pretty clear that if guys want to earn playing time on game-days they have to get it done on practice field first. These guys just have two more practices left before Saturday's spring game.  While the spring game is going to be fun for the team and those who will get to watch it, for guys like Jerry Johnson, Ricky Marvray and Antown Moutra to make a move in the depth chart, they will have to get it done in next couple of days.   

Despite the note about practice sloppiness, Randall Carroll continued to build on his solid performance from the second full scrimmage and had himself a good Monday:

His [Carroll's] play was a sharp contrast to others Monday. Carroll snagged everything thrown his way, while other receivers were lost on routes and dropping passes.

Neuheisel chastised others for not seizing opportunities in a post-practice media session. But Carroll, he said, "is a guy who is doing just that."

Carroll is a two-time California high school 100-meter champion, but he is now demonstrating the sticky fingers that can make his speed dangerous on the field.

"He always could run; now he's learning to be a football player," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "He's learned to control his speed and be a receiver. He is going to be a star."

Carroll learned as he went during a rough freshmen season. He finished with three receptions for only 21 yards. His ability to pick up large chunks of yards has been apparent this spring.

"I'm a playmaker," said Carroll. "I need to use that to stretch the field." To do that, Carroll said, "I had to show them I could consistently make plays. Coming out of high school, they knew I could make plays, but I didn't show them in person."

I wouldn't be surprised if Carroll goes through a bit more up and down his second year before settling in. What I really appreciate about him is how he keeps at it. As CRN mentioned above it has to do with "concentration." Once Carroll and rest of our secondary receivers (Marvray, Johnson and Moutra) figure out a way to concentrate and lock in on every play, they will get their opportunities to make their moments on Saturdays.

It sounds like Carroll has found himself in a bit of a grove. Hope he can finish strong this spring and his team-mates follow his lead to close out next couple of days at Spaulding. As CRN mentioned spring is their opportunity to make their mark for rest of the season. More after the jump.

CRN and staff tried out Christian Ramirez at F-Back position yesterday. When I first saw the headline (HT BlueReign) late last night, I was a little miffed since we had all read that Ramirez was having a pretty decent spring from the safety spot in the back field. However, after listening to CRN's comments and reading details around the move, it makes sense (emphasis added throughout):

"He (CRN) said he wanted to see me at this position," Ramirez said. "I think it is a great opportunity for me. They want me to come over to the defense and hit people. I can do that. Anything they want me to do, I'm going to do it."

Ramirez will remain a safety, but will cram to learn the new position in the Bruins' "pistol" offense.

"It's like high school all over again, they want me to play on both sides of the ball," Ramirez said. "If I could play both sides of the ball next season, that would be great."

More on this from the OC Register:

"It's not messing with my emotions," Ramirez said. "If anything, it's making me excited, that coach wants to put me somewhere, that he wants to find somewhere for me to play."

CRN is essentially exploring opportunities to get Ramirez on the field somehow. The way Bruins' secondary depth chart looks right now Ramirez might not get a lot of reps next season. So it makes sense to find out what he can do if needed from the F-back position. If there is a time to experiment with moves with personnel, spring is it.

So it makes sense to explore options and know exactly what kind of cards coaches have in pocket heading into summer at this time of the year. I appreciate the fact how CRN and his staff are always looking to find out what they have in all of their players, and it sure sounds like Ramirez appreciates it as well because from his comments he sounded excited about that move.

Elsewhere, it looks like Kai Maiava's spring is official over with "a moderate medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee." From the OC Register:

Maiava already had missed most of camp because of a shoulder injury that he suffered on the first day of spring.

He said he's particularly disappointed he won't play in Saturday's spring game because he was academically ineligible for the Bruins' bowl game.

"I wanted to come out and show everybody I grew up and that mistake won't happen again," he said.

Maiava, who was walking around without a brace Monday, tore the same ligament shortly after arriving at UCLA in the fall of 2008.

The news is bummer but we are going to be all right. CRN mentioned Kai should be "moving around in full speed" in "six weeks." Also, he gave props to Ryan Taylor who has taken advantage of the opportunity to play center during Kai's absence this spring. Hopefully this means that the Bruins will have more experienced depth at C heading into summer.

Besides Maiava, Nelson Rosario hyper-extended his left knee but it didn't sound too serious. As mentioned above the Bruins just have two practices left this week before Saturday's game. Today is also the last double header Saturday of spring with practice at 4 and then our baseball game against Long Beach State at Jackie Robinson Stadium around 6 pm PST. If you haven't done it yet, this is your last chance to take advantage of the opportunities to check out both UCLA football and baseball in the same day this spring.