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Spaulding Roundup: Thigpen's Increasing Role, Jack Impressing and Football Bullying

News and notes from the world of UCLA Football

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

With just over 72 hours before Saturday night's kickoff in Tuscon, the Bruins continue prepping for the Wildcats and working toward the stretch run needed to secure another South division title and Pac-12 Championship Game berth. Today was Coach Mora's day off from talking with the media after practice, but other members of his staff took up the slack.

Jack Wang pinned down Noel Mazzone for a talk about the offense, with his resulting story focusing on how Mazzone plans to utilize Damien Thigpen, making him more of a focal point in the offense now that he has been back on the field for a few weeks. (video via Jack Wang -

While Mazzone talked about the O, Coach Ulbrich talked to the media about his linebackers and the success of the special teams. (video via YouTube/UCLA Athletics)

Coach Ulbrich has taken the bright side of some of the injuries that the team has faced, with the ability to give younger players like Isaako Savaiinaea a chance to see meaningful playing time heading into the final month of the regular season. He noted that Jayon Brown's being named the Pac-12's special teams player of the week was deserved, but probably would have been more so after some of his earlier games this fall.

Chris Foster wrote a piece this afternoon on Eddie Vanderdoes, looking at his development as a young athlete in Auburn along with his early success at UCLA along with that of his fellow freshmen on the Bruin D-line. Eddie was a legitimately good athlete in high school, and not just a great football prospect.

Vanderdoes was a left-handed pitcher with a 93-mph fastball. He struck out 83 batters in 43 2/3 innings during two high school seasons.

"The sight of this 300-pound kid on the mound was a little weird," his father said. He wasn't just a big kid.

As a junior, he was second on the team with five stolen bases...

Former Daily News beat writer Jon Gold is now writing for the Arizona Daily Star, and if his twitter feed is any indication, he might be wishing that he could have stayed on in Westwood a few months longer.

Yes Jon, we know. His opinion of Jordan Zumwalt is pretty high as well.

Between those two guys, the Pac-12's leading tackler from last fall and Anthony Barr, It certainly seems that Coach Ulbrich is making strong progress toward one of his goals for the Bruin program.

Jon has also written a thoughtful story talking about his own experience dealing with bullying on the football field, a subject reaching the forefront of the football world in recent days after the series of incidents in the Miami Dolphins locker room. As Gold reminds us, unfortunately, the problem is far more serious and widespread than a couple of highly paid players in a pro organization.

On the same note from elsewhere in the Pac-12, some of you may have already heard about the Code Red that allegedly went down in the Cal locker room late last week. Freshman walk-on Fabiano Hale was assaulted in the Cal locker room last Friday, reportedly by two of his own teammates, in an attack that led to Hale's hospitalization. He had had slept through a meeting early that morning - later that afternoon, as reported by San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Hunter Hewitt:

..Players were told to deal with Hale on their own but "leave it in the locker room." Hale was later seen in the locker room and blindsided

The university is denying the worst aspects of the reports shared by the Chronicle and others, but even simple allegations of something like this further questions the judgment of Cal's AD in going out of the way to hire Sonny Dykes while ignoring other candidates like Mike MacIntire, who has made Colorado into at least a respectable squad one year after going 11-2 just down the freeway from Berkeley at San Jose St.

While the University of California system is second to none in academic excellence, it trails pretty much everyone in hiring competent athletic leaders.