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2010 UCLA Spring Game Roundup: Defense Shines, Jones & Coleman's Big Night & Other Notes

Let's start with the most important and significant news from yesterday's Spring football game. There were no major injuries at the Rose Bowl. Per the LA Times no UCLA player left the game due to injuries except for safety Dalton Hillard who suffered "a sprained ankle." Dalton should be ok in few weeks (if not sooner) and will be ready to go by summer camp.  So right off the bat we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.

As for the game it was dominated by defense, spearheaded by Datone Jones.  Kevin Prince and the UCLA QBs didn't get in a rhythm after doing well in the previous two scrimmages. I am sure that will cause few worry worts and the professional concern trolls (especially a Trojan hack like Adam Maya) to write stories to freak out Bruin faithful about the new offensive wrinkles. Whatever. I would suggest not to make too much out of that nonsense considering just yesterday we made it clear, the spring game doesn't really mean all that much in the great scheme of things whereas the aggregate datapoints from previous 14 practices (which included 2 full scrimmages) matter lot more.

If the result was the other way and the offense dominated and blew up the defense, then I am sure there would be whining about UCLA defense not being up to par this spring. Anyway, let's start with the highlights coming from the official site:

As Prince mentioned it took a while for the offense to get going. Per the official site his numbers (along with rest of the QBs) weren't that impressive but Prince directed drives that resulted in two touchdowns and one field goal. Coleman led rushing game with 64 net yards on 6 attempts and scored a TD.  The official site shows  JetSki with 18 carries and 47 yards. I doubt if he actually got that many carries. That doesn't sound accurate. So I wonder if some of the carries and yards by Milton Knox are being attributed to JetSki here. Wonder if anyone else at the game charted the plays because it doesn't seem accurate.

As mentioned up Datone Jones was apparently a menace on D with 2 sacks while Marlon Pollard had a pick 6. Here is Coach Rick Neuheisel following the game:

We got few more notes after the jump.

Going back to the offense performance Norm Chow wasn't too happy with the lack of "fire" early by the offense:

"I'm a little disappointed, and I told them so," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "We've been practicing very well but we for some reason came over here, and it didn't seem like we came out on fire. We needed to get going a little earlier than we did."

I can see the defense being jacked up a little for this game considering the positive press the offense has gotten all spring.  As for the beat "reporters" who were anxious to write up articles with over generalization on the new "revolver" formation, somehow they managed to leave out a pretty important detail noted by uclahy:

The offense may have been hobbled by the "no tackle" and "only touch" the QB rule for the scrimmage.  This made a quick whistle on some "sacks" and made it almost impossible for the QBs to get much when they optioned to keep the ball.  At times I think they would have normally picked up some big yards, but were ruled down just as they were cutting up the field because they were "touched."

I would think that makes a discernible difference in actual rushing stats and drive situations. I am assuming coaches will be pouring over the film to go over the early offensive hiccups.

Going back to the defense as mentioned in the lead grafs Datone had a huge day:

Jones had two sacks, recovered a fumble and spent a good portion of the evening in the backfield. He was the marquee player in a scrimmage dominated almost entirely by the defense.

"I'm a monster, I have to make plays," Jones said. "Everyone knows the draft was this weekend. I'm here to play football as a team, but someday I have to be able to take care of my family."

A payday does seem to be in Jones' future, though he hinted that he wouldn't bolt after his junior year, as Price did --"I love being at UCLA," Jones said.

His play hardly came as a surprise to UCLA coaches. Jones played in 10 games as a freshman and started all 13 games last season, finishing with four sacks.

"He's a prototypical NFL defensive end," defensive line coach Todd Howard said. "He's 275-280 and runs a 4.6. I think he's going to have a breakout season."

Besides Datone, Andrew Abbott and Glenn Love had good games per Blair Angulo of ESPN:

Offensive player of the game: With poor play from quarterbacks Prince and Richard Brehaut, the honor goes to tailback Derrick Coleman, who carried the ball six times for 64 yards and a touchdown. Prince and Brehaut were a combined eight for 22 for 106 yards.

Defensive player of the game: It's a toss up between Datone Jones, who had two sacks, and cornerback Andrew Abbott, who displayed outstanding coverage by breaking up a pair of pass attempts.

Play of the game: Linebacker Glenn Love laid a vicious hit on Coleman on a short dump off on the flat. Coleman caught the ball, but was blindsided by the hit and fumbled the ball. When asked if he had ever hit someone that hard, Love said, "I don't think so."

Quote of the night: In response, Coleman said, "He got me. I wasn't prepared for it, but he got me. I admit it."

Needless to say that is encouraging to hear and should give the defense a mental boost as they are looking to replace Brian Price and Reggie Carter. I can't wait to see how this defense looks when the new guys also come in this summer and the current ones go through few more months of S&C under Mike Lynn. Chuck Bullough has to be pleased with how this spring has turned out to date.

Besides Jones, Love and Abbott, per the numbers Todd Golper and Stan McKay had solid nights with 6 tackles each. Besides Marlon Pollard, Courntey Viney also had an interception. I was also encouraged to hear Nick Crissman and Clayton Tunney having decent nights (at least I am going by the official site). Crossing my fingers (and knocking on the table as I type this), hopefully we will only see those guys during mop up time (keeping Brehaut on the sideline for the entire year) next season.

If you want to follow up on A's guessing game the answers were: Marvray, Pollard, and None. Man I could have gone for 3 for 3 if I had gone with Marvray. I never win these things. Sigh.

In terms of attendance a pretty big night at the Rose Bowl. Already fanshotted about Tom Brady, Wes Walker, and David Beckam showing at the Rose Bowl. Besides them Flash 80 - aka Jerry Rice - was in the house to check Rice Jr. in Bruin blue. More importantly, there were more than 12,000 Bruins in attendance (official number at 12,494) who were fired up Jarrad Page, James Washington and ATV.

I did hear the "select-a-seat" experience didn't go so well because lot of folks go stuck in parking nightmare due to another pre-scheduled event at the Rose Bowl. That is something Morgan Center needs to look into and ensure doesn't happen again next year.

In conclusion, UCLA officially ends the spring with no season ending injuries except for Brandon Sermons. Even Warner could potentially come back next season, however, given the depth we have at DBs, he will most likely red-shirt coming back stronger the following season. Otherwise Josh Smith, Kai Maiavia, and Nick Abele who went down this spring should most likely be ready by summer camp or by September. We worked in new formations which according to reports did pretty good results in 2 out of the 3 scrimmages. All in all not a bad spring at all.

Color me excited after last 3-4 weeks. Here is to great off-season that results in even stronger and fully healthy team ready for camp in August.