Led by Hundley and Barr, the Bruins show off their well-stocked roster at the Spring Scrimmage, with more stars still to come in the Fall
UCLA held their annual Spring Scrimmage on Saturday evening, and the talent on the field looked better than it has in a long time. Usually, that sentence would mean that I’m talking about the Cheerleaders, but this year it includes the Cheerleaders and the Football players. While several gorgeous Cheer Squad members and 4 stunning Dance Teamers graced the sidelines with immeasurable talent, Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr and their teammates showed similar talent on the field.
Even with the absence of RB Jonathan Franklin and DL Datone Jones — who were both in attendance at the Scrimmage despite being drafted by Green Bay this week — the Bruins look solid up and down the roster. It wasn’t easy to truly judge much from the day’s activities, since it wasn’t a real game. Instead, they did a lot of drills, and when they were in game situations, NO TACKLING was allowed. Therefore, I can’t really tell you if the replacements for Franklin can break tackles. But Jordon James and Paul Perkins had their moments running the ball, finding holes and turning on the jets. As usual, the Running Backs caught a lot of Swing Passes to try to find open space near the sidelines. In addition to James and Perkins, the Bruins also have Damien Thigpen, Steven Manfro, Malcolm Jones, and Roosevelt Davis ready to help carry the load and fill Franklin’s shoes by committee. And without Joseph Fauria at Tight End, the Wide Receivers might see more balls than last year. That would be fine, as this year’s group is improved over last year, with Devin Lucien, Shaq Evans, Devin Fuller, and Darius Bell making the loss of Jerry Johnson (and Jerry Rice) totally inconsequential.
On Defense, Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt anchor a super-elite Linebacking corps. The D-Line has some experience, and will need to pressure opposing QB’s to help protect a suspect Defensive Secondary, which just lost projected starter at Cornerback Marcus Rios to a serious infection that will cost him the 2013 season most likely. In the Scrimmage, with no blitzing, the Secondary did okay, getting beat deep only once, when Devin Fuller caught a Hundley bomb in the end zone.
In addition to throwing that TD, Hundley also ran for a couple of scores, and another long scramble. His legs may have been better than his arm, as he did badly overthrow at least two open Receivers. Afterwards, he said that his legs are an ASSET, which he will use regularly. Hopefully, if he is having an off-target game, he’ll resort to the Run more often. If Hundley runs a lot, he may face an injury, and if he does go down, it looks like Jerry Neuheisel may be the #1 back-up. Jerry looked okay in the Scrimmage, hitting a few midrange passes over the middle for decent gains. He also did a good job of directing the hurry-up Offense that the Bruins like to use all game long. The next QB was T.J. Millweard, who looked capable as well, and who could eventually surpass Neuheisel on the depth chart, one would imagine.
The biggest problem of the day was the very WEAK Punting, but the Bruins have the #1 High School Punter in the Country joining the team in the Fall, so this appears to be a non-issue. Therefore, it looks like the Bruins will be in good shape in almost every facet of the game, by the time the season starts… except of course in the Radio booth.
The Scrimmage was barely a scrimmage, with no score being kept (unlike u$c’s Spring game), and it started an hour late, and even then it was nothing but DRILLS for another half-hour. So when the game-action finally started, it should have been enjoyable — and it was — except for one thing: THE TOTALLY PATHETIC PERFORMANCE OF THE ANNOUNCER, CHRIS ROBERTS.
Coach Mora seems to care about the details of the Program, on and OFF the field, offering to personally pay for buses to get the students to the Scrimmage, and also dealing with Adidas to try to fix the shoulder stripe on the jerseys (which has been a pet peeve of many hardcore fans) — So why doesn’t he get involved in an issue as big as an incompetent play-by-play man?
If Mora was listening to the PA system on Saturday, he would have immediately understood why SO MANY FANS can’t stand Roberts and consider him to be the worst announcer in the Country, and in the history of UCLA. EVERY TIME the Bruins scored a Touchdown, Roberts MISSED it. “Was that a Touchdown?” he would ASK, as the scoreboard was flashing “Touchdown,” and while the players and fans were celebrating. One time, after an obvious Touchdown run, he declared that the Refs ruled it a Touchdown, as if it were in doubt. Roberts sounds either senile or blind, or like he is reading notes instead of watching the game. A change needs to be made, and it’s up to Mora to make it happen. He should know that UCLA’s fan support is damaged every time Roberts broadcasts a game. A fresh voice with knowledge and more importantly AWARENESS of what is happening on the field, would make a world of difference, and could easily build more excitement for the Program. Maybe someone who knows what to emphasize? Roberts is so clueless, that when the Offense made great plays and big gains, he would have no idea who made the catch or run, and would instead rave enthusiastically about whoever made the tackle. It was excruciating having to listen to him call this scrimmage. Even during the drills, he said stupid things, announcing to the crowd that the Quarterbacks and Receivers were running a Passing Drill. Really, Chris? Is that what it is? It was SO hard to tell!! It’s hard to have a first-rate Program when the VOICE of that Program is third-rate at best. “Jolly” does NOT compensate for “brain dead.” I don’t care if he’s a nice guy and a loyal Bruin — Get him out of the booth, and stick him in Fundraising. I want a Personality in the booth of whom we can be PROUD, and not ashamed.
Below are 40 game and Cheer photos from the Scrimmage. I apologize for not showing more Cheer Squad photos, but they never came to my side of the field — only the 4 Dance Teamers performed near my section. Click on the photos to enlarge them, and come back soon for more Cheerleader photos from this event.