Bruins are going to wrap up their first spring ball under Coach Jim Mora with a scrimmage at the Rose Bowl early this evening. The scrimmage is scheduled for 5 pm PST but the Rose Bowl will open up for tailgate around 12 pm PST. Despite the horribly underachieving performance of UCLA football during Chianti Dan's era there will be a sense of excitement around this event.
There are good reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the program because of the steady drip of positive news through good coaching hires, recruiting coups and other off field moves by Mora that have been generally on the mark. I am not expecting too much in terms of the game plan from the coaches today. Noel Mazzone is on the record saying the coaches are planning to keep it "pretty vanilla." The big thing is to make sure we finish the scrimmage and the spring camp healthy. Let's get to some news and notes after the jump.
Here was Coach Mora talking to Ralph recapping last four weeks:
Jim Mora Pleased with UCLA Football's Spring Camp (via UCLA)
Interesting to hear Mora single how few specific players for their exceptional performance spring. It was fun to hear him compare Tevin McDonald to his old man - 49ers legend Tim McDonald - one of two Trojan greats many of us like here on BN (you can guess who the other one is, whose son also happen to be a pretty solid UCLA football player). Mora raved about how McDonald "attacked" the ball.
- Peter Yoon had a list of "five things to watch" at today's scrimmage. The one that stood out to me was whether "the defense can keep pace" in what has been reportedly an up-tempo spring (we have heard that before though). Defense has also been pretty hard this spring (what else is new - thanks to Chianti Dan's crappy facilities). So it will be interesting to see how they handle the offensive personnel today (notably Mora mentioned one defensive player when asked to single out the outstanding performers of this spring in the video above).
- Even though Mora didn't mention him, Cassius Marsh has had a spring camp to remember per Yoon at ESPNLA. Marsh is looking for redemption after a checkered start at UCLA which has been marred with discipline issues on the field. It's been disappointing given the enormous hype around his arrival as one of the most highly recruited DTs ever to come out to Westwood. Per defensive coach Angus McClure Marsh has "matured quite a bit," and "quietly become one of our leaders." Let's hope stays on this path for rest of this offseason and come up with huge season in 2012.
- Chris Foster takes a look at the "holes" in our offensive line. This has been a mystery given Rick Neuheisel did put a lot of effort to shore up the line which was gutted by poor recruiting efforts of the previous staff. While the OL has some personnel to work we have serious issue at the RT where currently Brett Downey is listed as the starter. I imagine coaches may look at Simone Goines as someone to compete for playing time at the spot, but that may be too much to ask from a true frosh. Still this Adrian Klemm's first year. So maybe he will come up with a solution after he has a better idea of his personnel.
For more details on the spring game click here. If you are going to the game, as always please share your quick notes and takes in the comment thread. If you have detailed thoughts (over 75 to 100 words) please put them in fanpost section. Those of us living outside Southern California always appreciate reading those first hand takes.