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THE STARTING BELL

As we take stock of the Tailbacks, we have stock in Bell, but he has many capable stalkers.

Bruins ring in Fall Practice with Bullish Kahlil Bell atop the stocked Tailback position

UCLA Football 2008 is underway, and even though Karl Dorrell is gone, three primary figures from the tough 2007 campaign are being counted on to keep the Bruins from a repeat performance.

Fully-recuperated Kahlil Bell starts the Fall as the #1 Running Back on the team, not-so-fully recuperated Ben Olson begins practice as the #1 Quarterback, and Marcus Everett is the #1 Receiver.

The players won’t don PADS for a few more practices, so it is very hard to pass judgment on anything that was observable on Tuesday…  I watched the entire first session, but it was like watching a flag football game.  One of the “other” relevant blogs talks about certain guys looking great, and rising above the rest.  I don’t mean to contradict him, or the Coaches who told him their impressions, but it needs to be stressed that all “impressive performances” from Tuesday should be taken with a grain or two of salt.  There’s a big difference between what you can do in shorts and a t-shirt with no threat of being leveled, and what happens when you’ve got an unrestrained Reggie Carter bearing down on you.

I could tell you about some gaping holes that the Offensive Line opened up – seriously – but I don’t want you to put too much stock in these comments.  Let’s just say that for this stage of the game, the Linemen SEEM to have a decent grasp on their assignments.

Perhaps the excitement of the new, incoming regime motivated the players to study their playbooks harder — but the expected chaos in the trenches was not evident.

I hesitate to say anything negative about anyone either, because ONE practice session is so meaningless — especially the first one.  But if you promise not to over-react, I’ll share:  Ben Olson did not look like he has made the Drew Olson leap just quite yet.  As Brian Dohn reported, Olson is still favoring his injured foot.  That MIGHT or might not be the reason why Norm Chow was concentrating on teaching Olson proper footwork.  Chow seemed to have all the QB’s focusing on proper footwork and body orientation coming away from the Center — Maybe that’s Lesson One in Chow’s Quarterbacking 101 course — but it looked like Olson needed (and got, and absorbed) lots of instruction.

As for the passing, the general accuracy of the QB’s was not good, but that’s due more to timing issues than talent deficiencies.  That said, it is still painful to see Olson hit the trailing (wrong) shoulder of slanting Receivers.  According to Dohn, second-string QB Kevin Craft was horribly inaccurate all day.  I saw more of Olson and Freshman Kevin Prince, who both, also, missed a lot more than they hit.

Again, it must be stressed that this info should not be over-valued — Not only will the QB-Receiver timing improve greatly with practice reps, but the Bruins will probably be throwing mostly quick passes, and the QB’s on Tuesday had a more-decent handle on their short game.  One of the Freshmen QB’s has a funky delivery, but no more comments on that until there is a little more photographic evidence to illustrate it.

As usual in early practices, the Defense looked great, hardly ever allowing Receivers to get separation.  The D was focused, and probably more emotional than the Offense, just like last year.  In fact, despite the regime change, the whole practice seemed eerily similar to a Dorrell practice.  That’s NOT an insult of Neuheisel — Just an observation that it’s not like Dorrell was running some sort of three-ring clown circus — The demeanor and overall “feeling” of his practices were the same as at Tuesday’s session.

And that includes the fans — The attendance was very minimal, and quiet, like they were watching through soundproof glass.  With all the extra tickets that Neuheisel has sold, and with the extra publicity the practice schedule received, and with a big Tennis Tournament in progress on campus, you would think that there would have been more butts in the Spaulding Field bleachers.  But no, there were almost as many family members of players as there were die-hards.  Maybe when they strap on the shoulder pads and there is really something to see, more spectators will come.  They will certainly show up for the big scrimmage.

And when they do, they will see some awesome physical specimens — whether or not the Cheerleaders are in attendance.  As you can see in the 19 captioned photos below, most of these guys look like they are in mid-season “form.”  

 Gotta love how INTO IT Bell is from the sidelines.

Chow watches as Olson trips over his own feet (just kidding, he didn’t really fall — It’s just a deceiving angle)

Not only is Chow “hands on,” he’s “hands and feet on” — Here he shows Kevin Prince the “Brigham Young Heisman Two-Step.”

A Prince, learning from THE KING.

Chow observes the results of his handiwork (and footiwork).

Prince Rollout, or just getting practice at evading unimpeded blitzes?

Nick Crissman is the other smart & fortunate Freshman QB to have Norm Chow as a tutor.

And if Olson, Craft, Prince, Crissman, and Forcier don’t work out…the Bruins have Osaar Randle-El.

Does Freshman Wide Receiver Antwon Moutra want to be 7th String QB?  Looks like he could throw it to Beijing (right through the smog).

If the QB’s can get ‘em out there, the Receivers will Ketchum (maybe).

Dominique has the best “hand” of all the Receivers (And the crowd goes wild!!!!)

Raymond Carter is nipping at Kahlil Bell’s heels, but it looks like he doesn’t like how they taste.

Carter could give UCLA a one-two punch.

Jonathan Franklin just joined the battle for Tailback.  Do you think he will he change his number?  If he’s 6th string Tailback, will he change his tune?

If RB Derrick Coleman has his way, his #33 will soon be retired too (like Alcindor’s).

Milton Knox is rumored to be Redshirting, but he may change that with a big Fall practice.

Look at the size of that hole!  You could drive a truck (or a Theriot of Fire) through there!

And with Tevaga in there, the “forecast” for more gaping holes is “Sonny.”

Neuheisel will soon be the “Dean” of Pac-10 Coaches, when RB Aundre Dean starts shredding the other 9 teams.

"THE STARTING BELL" was published on August 6th, 2008 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Sports Photos.

Comments on "THE STARTING BELL": 6 Comments

  1. Robert Carrillo wrote,

    The title of “gutty little Bruins” is fitting for this team for sure. It should be an interesting year at the Rose Bowl. I hope Milton Knox does not red-shirt this year, he’s an amazing back and so exciting to watch, he’s the second coming of Maurice Drew.

  2. BruinSteveII wrote,

    Ben Olson looks really good….. in still photos. Let’s hope he stays injury free the rest of the season.

    Go Bruins!

  3. JosephineBruin wrote,

    BRUINS!

  4. UCLADal wrote,

    Norm Chow in Blue… I still can’t believe it. I’ll take pics of him over the Bruin cheer leaders anytime.

    Make it happen CNC! Lead us to The Promised Land! GO BRUINS!

  5. BW wrote,

    Hijacking this thread…

    When is the last time SUC player actually got conviction? Well. the spell got broken today as SUC’s incoming recruit, Maurice Simmons, was convicted for the March 5th robbery. He’s facing 7 1/2 years in prison.

    [T-H’s Note: Cool — The first hijacking this site has ever seen. And yes, there is a Simmons article on the way…]

  6. Robert Carrillo wrote,

    Well, technically the trojans are still intact when it comes to their players being convicted of any crimes, because it could be argued that Simmons was not officially a trojan. So it’s good for the trojans because they still hold a perfect record 0 covictions -1000 crimes – and bad for Simmons, he chose the wrong time to commit the crime. If he had J U S T waited till he attended his first summer school class, he could have been protected by all the corrupt officials/usc alumni that run the system.

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