If you needed any more reason to appreciate and admire the work that IE Angel puts together here every week, here's the latest example
8:07, I love watching Caleb Benenoch at guard. He run blocks so effectively and angrily. Pancakes on a down block on this play. He should not move from this spot if Kolton Miller plays the way he has. He can play guard in the NFL, will not play tackle.
This follows IE's recent point that UCLA Football's biggest lack is a reliable identiity, which was promptly discussed by media and players just a week later. I'm gonna miss the hell out of IE when he gets picked up as a quality control/assistant coach one of these days and moves on from BN to better things, and better paying things (yes, there are better things than BN - not many, but some). I only hope his current grad program keeps him tied down for another decade or so before it happens, but it's coming.
It's coming because IE's preference for the Bruins OL looks to be exactly what the Bruins are planning. Jim Mora met with the media today and one of the first topics was the move of Caleb Beneoch to guard with Kolton Miller assuming the right tackle position for the time being. He said that this represents the best 5 man lineup on the O Line right now. For one, it speaks to the talent and development of Kolton Miller who was getting rave reviews form his teammates in the spring and from Jake Brendel specifically yesterday.
Mora talked about Miller's ability to bend his ankles and knees which might seem a bit odd, but is actually pretty crucial. Imagine you are just getting up from a chair but not using your hands to push up. That position and the ability to move and execute within it is so critical in athletics, not just for an offensive tackle but also for a D man in hockey, an alpine skier, a basketball player playing on the ball defense, a shortstop charging a grounder. a tennis player at the net. Now consider the advantage to have that flexibility when you are 6-9 and #300. Anyway, Mora points out how Miller's technique, athleticism, and flexibility, combined with his intellectual approach to the game, have allowed him to break into what was already a really effective O Line as a redshirt freshman. I think Miller has some athletic advantages in that regard over Benenoch. Either way, the O Line looks to be in pretty good shape for the foreseeable future, as I would expect all the starters to be back next year, aside from Jake Brendel who is a senior and won't be allowed to play again next year, no matter how hard he goes to Murphy Hall and tries to delete some credits to allow him to enroll for one more fall quarter (yes, speaking from experience). But even in that spot, Scott Quessenberry will be back and healthy for next season so the top 6 or 7 look to be in good shape before you get to the quality backups on the depth chart. I still want to see OL Coach Adrian Klemm do more with them and especially to have some better ideas what to do when the D is bringing more men than we have, but it's a good group of players. Mora compared the OT position to cornerbacks in terms of their isolation, responsibility, and need to play going backwards, and maybe this explains my personal devotion to the big uglies who determine if we win or lose football games.
Mora also spoke about the Washington State offense which make the word prolific seem like an understatement. WSU's QB is the leading passer and 3 WRs are in the top 6 in the Pac-12. Mora said that playing a similar system against Cal 3 weeks ago is beneficial in terms of preparation and confidence, but he also credited Cougars head coach Mike Leach for his intelligence and ability to develop his system. Leach is in his third year in Pullman and now has more of his type of players, and it's reflected in their offensive production this season. Mora stopped short of giving Leach all the credit for developing his Air Raid style offense which led to a touching, literally, moment with our friend Chris Foster and prompted some concerned looks from Deon Hollins and Jaleel Wadood in the background and a female reporter nearby. But it's a good sign when Mora is in a good and talkative mood in these pressers. It usually means that practice and the week are going well which is a good indicator that the Bruins are on the right track for Saturday. Personally, this game scares me more than Utah. We know how good Utah is and what they are capable of. There will be no overlooking the Utes. But it could be tempting to look past the Cougars considering it's a home game, we have fancy new uniforms for Saturday, and WSU has struggled prior to this season. This is the kind of game the Bruins have walked in to underprepared and found themselves in trouble they didn't need to be in.
One of my all-time favorite Bruins, Deon Hollins, was up next and he talked about the challenges of the WSU offense and the opportunities it presents for a big time pash rusher like himself. Deon's been slowed a bit by a knee injury in recent weeks but says he's feeling good and that the recent strong performances by Takkarist McKinley should force opposing offenses to loosen some of the emphasis they have put in to blocking him this season. He added that some of the WSU route combos have some similarities to the Bruins offense so he feels like the defense will be well prepared for the Cougars passing attack. The biggest thing the Bruins defense can do this week to slow the Cougars' offense will be to get a lot of pressure on the WSU QB. For an offense that depends a ton on timing and quick reads, a consistent and unpredictable pass rush by the Bruins will be key, so look for Hollins, McKinley, Aaron Wallace, Kenny Clark, and the rest of the front 7 to have a big say in this game.
Hollins also said Isaako Savaiinaea is coming back and that his attacking style in the run game will be a boost for the D.
Jaleel Wadood, not a linebacker in body but one for sure in mindset, talked about the fun and the challenges of effectively playing linebacker last week. His size presents a Newtonian vulnerability on defense, so he uses it in a more Shermanesque manner by maneuvering quickly behind the big bodies so he can slip into gaps and make plays. Consider he's giving up more than #100 in some of these matchups, and you get a sense of what kind of football player Wadood is. He says the pass happy WSU offense will test the secondary so he is studying the Cougar offense carefully this week, and he noted the contributions of John Johnson, Nate Meadors, and Adarius Pickett in the secondary this year.