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Spaulding Roundup: Brehaut’s Progression, Underclassmen's Leadership & Other UCLA Notes

Bruins finished up their second to last practice yesterday at Spaulding with good performances from Richard Brehaut and Derrick Coleman. As spring practice winds down it appears that Brehaut has some momentum heading into his second season in Westwood. Kevin Prince still is the unquestioned starter for this team. However, it is good to see Brehaut showing signs of having better grasp of the offensive scheme. Don't forget he is still just a freshman (even though this is his second spring practice).

If Brehaut keeps up his progression, the coaches will feel a little better about having him as the number 2 guy behind Prince. Here is CRN following yesterday's practice talking about Richard Brehaut making one of the best throws he has seen in a while at Spaulding:

Brehaut also "threw a pair of red-zone touchdowns, one to tight end Kevin McDermott and the other to F-back Morrell Presley" (See Angulo's practice report on ESPN LA).  Despite his moments yesterday he also threw a pick.  As CRN said he is not a "finished product." This development will take a while and is part of the same growing process even great ones like Cade McNown went through. We just have to look up the statistics from Cade's first two seasons on how inconsistency before he matured into a Bruin legend. More after the jump.

Besides Brehaut our RBs had pretty encouraging day yesterday. From the LA Times:

UCLA guard Jeff Baca looked up and saw tailback Derrick Coleman's backside 20 yards down the field during a live scrimmage during Tuesday's practice.

"That was awesome," Baca said. "You make a block, look up and see your tailback in front of you, then one guy misses him, and he's gone. That's encouraging."

Coleman's 39-yard touchdown run is why the Bruins have made the change to the "pistol" offense this spring. UCLA averaged a woeful 3.5 yards a carry a year ago, underscoring the need for a consistent running game.

Coleman broke two long runs, with a 45-yard burst to go with his touchdown. Johnathan Franklin also shot through the line for a 30-yard gain.

"This offense is more vertical," Coleman said. "Last year we ran some outside stuff, where you used your feet a little bit. This offense the running game is going north."

Good to see Coleman and JetSki turn it on a bit down the stretch. The competition is going to be more fun to watch when Malcolm Jones and Jordon James check in this August.  BTW it wasn't just the offense having it's way. The defense made its share of plays as noted in Angulo's report.  We will see how the guys finish up on Thursday (Bruins have the day off today).


Elsewhere Jon Gold from the Daily News has a good article on how a number of rising sophomores and juniors have had to assume leadership roles of the current UCLA program:

For now, the leadership responsibilities fall to sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince, junior linemen Jeff Baca and Kai Maiava and junior receivers Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario on the offensive side, and Moore, defensive end Datone Jones and linebacker Akeem Ayers.

"We are the seniors now, we are the older guys," Jones said. "We played in big games. It's our turn. You can be a freshman and you can be a leader, as long as you're a football player. ... If you're a baller, you're a player, you're making plays, everyone's going to look at you. If I was a freshman and I got 30 sacks, everyone would look to me."

As such, those who return with extensive experience are embracing the role.

"My role is not only to worry but myself, but to share my wisdom and knowledge with those guys," Moore said. "I once was in (sophomore cornerback) Sheldon Price's shoes. I've been ran through. I've been dipped on. I've been beaten for touchdowns. I had to learn, I had to get put on. Now I'm a big dog, and I'm gonna show 'em what a big dog do."

Rahim is too funny. On serious note though CRN pointed out that this is somewhat of an unusual situation:

"It's not normal; this is an unusual circumstance," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Programs go through these ebbs and flows. Following this class, I think we'll be in a routine with our seniors. There will be five to six freshmen who play and the rest will redshirt, and away we go."

We have kind of hinted at it before but it is worth doing it again. The way underclassmen like Moore, Ayers, Prince and Baca have taken leadership responsibilities of this team kind of reminds me a lot of AA and JF taking charge of our basketball program in their sophomore season in Westwood. It is fun to watch.

Elsewhere, the OC Register has a piece on Nate Chandler "shining" at his new defensive position:

"He's going to make plays next year," defensive line coach Todd Howard said. "His progression throughout the spring has been good. For a guy who for the last three years has been playing tight end, he's way above a freshman. I would have loved to have had him three years ago."

The 6-5 Chandler bulked up to 290 pounds in the offseason to complement his 4.6 speed and athleticism. Howard said Chandler has not been overwhelmed by the terminology and technique of a new position, which was evident in the Bruins' scrimmage last week when he had two sacks.

Howard went so far as to say he projects Chandler will be a starter in the fall, he just isn't sure where.

"Effort-wise and athletic ability, he's already there," Howard said. "We just have to make sure we use him in a position where he can make plays for us, whether it be end or tackle."

For those of you who are going to Rose Bowl this weekend, it would be great if you guys can zero in our DTs and specially keep an eye on Chandler. I would love to hear your impressions. Really excited to see how this experiment unfolds on Saturdays this coming September.

Bruins have the day off today. They just have one more practice left on Thursday which gets started a little early at 2:30 pm. So if you are around Westwood, this is your last chance to visit Spaulding before the Battle at the Rose Bowl officially ends spring ball on Saturday.