Thanks to those who have been chiming in with their first hand impressions and notes from 2012 spring game. We really appreciate it. Please keep them coming if you have more to share and don't feel shy if you feel others have already posted what you took from the game.
Let's start with the most welcome news from the day:
The coaching staff was smiling widest about coming out of the afternoon without losing any more players to injury as the team was hit particularly hard by the injury bug this spring.
"Any time you're going 11-on-11 with your own team, you're taking a risk," head coach Jim Mora said. "You're doubling your risk any time you scrimmage because you've got 22 of your own players. But the trade off for us in this point in the development of this team is important."
Given what we have experienced in recent years, we always hold our breath going into these scrimmage games. So it's awesome to read the day after that everyone came out healthy.
The scrimmages have always been a pretty vanilla affair at UCLA. Yet reading through the notes and reports something seems a little interesting. This time it was the defense that provided the "vanilla" look, while the offense for the first time years seemed to have upper hand at a Bruin scrimmage. Of course we have to take all of that with a grain of salt, given the defensive backfield and LBers were somewhat depleted. Let's get to more notes after the jump.
The official site has estimated statlines which make Richard Brehaut, Brett Hundley, Jerry Johnson and Tyler Scott (never heard of him until today) look good:
Passing - Brett Hundley 12-20-185 yds-1 td 1 int Richard Brehaut 12-16-249 yds-4 td 0 int Kevin Prince 8-11-101 yds 2 td 0 int
Rushing - Johnathan Franklin 8 - 28 yds Malcolm Jones 8-38 yds 1 tdJordon James 6-18 yds Steven Manfro 2-20
Receiving - Jerry Johnson 5-125 2 td Tyler Scott 3-113 2 td Steven Manfro7-105 Darius Bell 5-56 1 td Devin Lucien 3-48 1 td Shaquelle Evans 4-46
You can check out the full stat lines here, which once again show Dantone Jones having a solid day on the defense. Regular observes will remember Jones have been impressive scrimmages and practices before. So we will see how he turns out next season.
The numbers that immediately stand out are those of Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundely. In our blog years of BruinsNation, I don't recall a UCLA QB putting up the kind of scrimmage numbers Brehaut did yesterday. Hundley wasn't too shabby either as he did some damage not just through air but also on the ground (via Gold):
The quarterbacks were, for the most part, good to very good on Saturday. Richard Brehaut had four pretty touchdown passes and Brett Hundley had a nice deep touchdown pass and a long run. Kevin Prince was also good, adding a nice touchdown throw, but Brehaut and Hundley kind of stole the day.
IMO's Mora's decision to not name starting QBs till this August is looking really good (despite some popular sentiment of going with Hundley right now). It is clear that Brehaut is not going to back away one bit and now that he is going all in this off-season (giving up baseball), the QB competition is going to get even more interesting this summer. Gotta imagine that both Mora and Mazzone are fired up about that development.
Speaking of impressive at scrimmages, guess Steven Manfro continued his impressive spring streak right into the scrimmage on Saturday night (from qtp's notes worth highlighting again):
Manfro might be it. He was the star of the day and it should suffice to say he completely shocked me with his play. I've been reading that he's had a solid off season, but honestly, I had no idea. See, I read the same thing last year and Manfro was utterly disappointing at the Fall scrimmage. Last year he looked somewhat quick and easy to tackle.
Something has happened that changed Manfro into a pass catching, run between the tackles, kick returning, back flipping, TD scoring scrimmage maniac of doom. Perhaps all the projections of Chuck Norris were understating his skills. He was juking veteran players, pushing piles and just generally making plays. People have been calling him white Mamba, which is silly, until you realize that Mazzone is using him in all the same ways that Oregon was using De'Anthony Thomas last year. I don't think he quite has Thomas's top gear, but he looks to have everything else, with a bit of power thrown in.
I'd still recommend everyone contain their excitement just a bit and keep their expectation in check. He has certainly emerged has a message board/blog-internet legend this spring. However, before we coronate him as the Tim Riggins of UCLA football (without the off-field baggage), let's wait to see how he performs on game days. Perhaps the Mazzone offense is just the right fit for his skillset but we have to remember he has been going against our much maligned defensive personnel all spring.
Mazzone told his guys to have fun and for the most part offense did just that:
Hundley sprinted to the end zone to celebrate with his offensive teammates and a three-way chest bump with Scott and offensive lineman Kody Innes ended with the trio on the ground, laughing.
"(Offensive coordinator Noel) Mazzone told us, 'Just have fun today,' and that's what we did today," Hundley said. "We tried to light up the scoreboard. It was a fun offense. A fun day."
Hundley added a 27-yard touchdown run and Kevin Prince added a pair of touchdown passes as well in the quarterbacks' lost opportunity to shine before an offseason that will go a long way toward determining who gets the first snaps against Rice on Aug. 30 in the season opener.
"I just got done telling them - now is the time to start working harder," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "To me, it's what they do between now and August 1 that's going to play a big decision in what happens next season."
Hopefully for us the off-season will be a blur because it's going to be painful waiting till summer camp to start. If you have other notes to share, please post them in the comment threads. As always, use the fanpost to blog your extended takeaways from the day.