Let's get this Monday started. Our coaches and players officially get out at Spaulding this afternoon (3 pm PST) after holding their media day around noon. Coach Rick Neuheisel was already fired up yesterday evening:
Handled many logistical matters and then had our first position meetings of the 2010 season. Don't know whose more excited coaches or players
The first practice begins around 3:00 pm. CRN is meeting with the media around 11:30 am and from noon to 1:30 pm, the players and coaches are participating in Media Day, doing various interviews, shooting TV freeze-frames and also taping material for use on the Rose Bowl video board.
The LA Times discovered that UCLA has a football program in last 24 hours and decided to update the Bruins section for the first time in weeks (if not months) following UCLA's appearance in the College World Series. Chris Foster, who perhaps is one of the most mediocre "beat reporter" in entire college football, wrote a full column on what else - the new revolver formation - leading with cheap shots based on one spring game (ignoring the overall results from weeks of practice). Still if you scan through Foster's nonsense, you will find some useful grafs with Nevada's head coach Chris Ault's thoughts on his pistol offense, which was the inspiration of installation of revolver formations in Westwood:
"I announced a month before spring practice (following 2004 season) that we were going run this thing called the 'pistol,' " Ault said. "My staff looked at me like, 'He's lost it.' But that first spring we saw some flashes of why you want to run it. We could do things out of it people had never seen before."
The offense has the quarterback four yards behind center and a lone running back directly behind him, instead of to the side as in the shotgun formation. There is sleight-of-hand deception by the quarterback, which Oregon has used effectively. It differs from the shotgun because, Ault said, "That was designed for the pass; this helps your running game."
Nevada averaged 344.9 yards a game last season - though the Wolf Pack's schedule did include six teams ranked among the bottom 15 nationally against the run.
Still, other schools, many in BCS conferences, have adopted portions of the offense with great success. Alabama used isolation-type plays out of it in its BCS title run in 2009.
"The shotgun's running game is long sweeps and counters," Ault said. "The pistol keeps defenses guessing. The play-action is different. You can run the power game off it, or the option game, or the zone-read game. You include your quarterback in the running game, forcing the defense to account for him."
Of course UCLA will most likely not run the exact offense and instead customize based on the talent available on our roster. Moreover, as Coach Norm Chow has noted along with Kevin Prince, Bruins ran that formation few times last year. What the coaches are hoping to do is to develop templates within our existing offense that will put our guys in best position to win:
"I think that we owe it to our players to put them in the best position possible so they can be successful," Chow said. "Football continues to change. Stubborn guys who refuse to change don't last."
That should make sense to anyone with reasonable expectations and understanding of our football program. Of course we can't really expect standard of reasonableness from the mostly mediocre, lazy and cynical traditional media reporters covering our team in Los Angeles. More on those clowns perspective on the opening of camp after the jump.
The traditional media in Los Angeles is already going full throttle whipping up cynicism around our program. They are working OT in trying to raise the expectations around Rick Neuheisel threading the faux storyline about UCLA "boosters" getting anxious around our football program. Chris Foster writes in his unoriginal "five crucial questions" with breathless anticipation "if not now, when"?
Neuheisel has three recruiting classes on campus and USC was knocked off its pedestal, first by Oregon, then by NCAA sanctions. The time has come to fulfill the UCLA marketing department's 2-year-old proclamation about the state of college football in Los Angeles.
But, wait, the media picked the Bruins to finish eighth in the Pac-10, like last season, ahead of only Arizona State and Washington State, like last season.
The Bruins will have to prove on the field that they are ready to be taken seriously as contenders. That won't be easy with nonconference games at Kansas State and Texas.
Uh, no Chris. What the Bruins will have to do is build on last year's success and put together a productive run during our conference season. The measure of our success this season will not be predicated upon getting a victory in Texas, but it will be on how all units of our team are performing on the field during our conference season. It will be about building on the strong finish from last season, and replicate it consistently throughout the conference season.
Foster is not the only one whipping up the concern trolling to start the season. Scott M. Reid of the OC Register, who is covering the Bruins for the first time his life, refers to concerns from "three wealthy alums" in his camp preview today:
The question is, can a Bruins team that opens preseason camp Monday win enough games in Neuheisel's third season at his alma mater to mute the third-year talk about a coach's future among boosters expecting significant progress by this juncture?
Just as significantly, can UCLA produce a season that will enable it to capitalize on USC's two-year postseason exile?
Huh? Reid refers to "boosters," yet he provides no citation, names or concrete references to exactly what "boosters" are "expecting significant progress" in this third season. He just put it together all on his own just like we have seen clueless commenters coming on BN over the years bringing their "inside" information from "three wealthy alums" (ask Fox71 all about it).
Of course, if these reporters were write something responsible they would talk about how coaches, players, and the extended Bruin family (that would be us) are expecting Bruins to continue their forward steps they clearly took towards the end of last season. They would be writing about improving UCLA offenses to the point that we no longer are depending on defense to win games. They would be writing about putting UCLA offense in a position where it is consistently finishing with touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.
If they were paying attention, the beat writers would also be talking about improving the UCLA defense by taking advantage of its available talent by attacking early and often, instead of waiting to react and stiffen during second half of the game. Guess, that is all too much to expect from the media that has been absent all of summer.
FWIW, it seems like the Daily News has a pretty nice spread on the team today. As Gold writes on expectations:
Despite a daunting schedule, which includes road dates at Texas, Kansas State, Cal, Oregon, and Washington, UCLA has high hopes for a return to the postseason for a second straight year. With some offensive continuity brewing - the Bruins lose only three offensive starters - the thoughts are Chow's offense will finally open up. However, the outside perception is not as rosy; the Pac-10 media poll listed UCLA in eight. The season will likely result on a mid-season stretch with home games against Arizona and Oregon State and visits to Washington and Arizona State.
Sounds pretty reasonable to us. Guess unlike the "reporters" in the LA Times and the OC Register, Gold has been paying attention most of this summer. Good for him.
Hope those guys will be paying attention in practice today. Then again we rather hear from you guys directly here on BN then having to depend on their observations. As mentioned above, practice starts around 3 pm. During the first four days, the squad will be split with one group participating beginning at 3:00 pm with stretch. The entire team will be together at 4:25 for special teams and the second half of the team will practice beginning at 4:50. Practice will end at approximately 6:00 pm.
All practices for first couple of weeks are open. So get out there. Enjoy football and consider coming back here sharing all the fun with rest of us.