Take a Poll and you’ll hear that Kevin Prince is Charming a Small World of fans and Coaches, as his storybook vault in performance has him frozen at the head of the QB Club, and has Richard Brehaut going back in the vault
Rule #1 on Practice Reports, especially in the Spring: Don’t vault to conclusions. I saw a few things yesterday, but you’ll have to take them with an asteroid-sized grain of salt. First of all, it’s only April, and second of all, I saw only 90 minutes of drills — Definitely and admittedly NOT enough of a sample to make any supremely relevant commentary. So for what it’s worth…
Yeah, I agree with the early Internet Message Board consensus: Kevin Prince has already made the customary Freshman-to-Sophomore improvement that you would hope for, from a guy who’s being tutored by the best QB-maker in the Biz. Prince looks stronger physically and mentally, hitting a higher percentage of targets, and making his decisions quicker.
Let me stop right here and remind you: Today’s comments are based on a very limited amount of reps. But Prince really looked like a different guy, with some leadership skills starting to show. Meanwhile, it looked like Richard Brehaut was still trying to find his rhythm, and his timing with his receivers. But who knows, maybe he just had a tough stretch when I happened to be focusing on him. Unfortunately, I’ve read other eyewitness-but-amateur reports on him that are not much more encouraging.
So naturally, fans fearing the drop-off are concerned with Prince staying healthy. And that may be a longshot, considering that one of the best plays in the Spring arsenal is a QB Keeper. The Bruins spent a whole segment working on just handing off the ball properly; That repetition is crucial to the Keeper, too, since it’s a FAKE hand-off, ala Oregon, that seems to make the play work.
Each day of each year’s practice may have a different focus, but last year, the practices I saw emphasized short, quick swing passes to Running Backs. This year — yesterday, at least — the concentration was more on patterns where several receivers went straight down the field, including in the slots, and Prince would hit someone on the fly, with confidence. The only downside, was that I THINK I saw Morrell Presley drop two balls that were both right in his hands, with no footsteps to be heard. It sounded like he got yelled at for one of them, but they didn’t make him run laps. Maybe he made some great catches that I didn’t see.
On the other side of the ball, the Defensive Secondary seemed to be flying around to the ball, usually being right there, or even getting the ball. I thought I saw Tony Dye make some nice close-outs, and also Alex Mascarenas looked like he was in the right place at the right time [Note: I actually read another account that was NOT impressed with Alex, so again, maybe I just happened to see his “highlights.”]
I don’t have anything new to say about the O-Line, Running Backs, or D-Line — I’ll need to see more scrimmaging to have anything remotely valid to say (as if ANYTHING I DID say is valid!). I will say that Joseph Fauria is very impressive, before he even steps on the field. Also, Fullback Jayson Allmond looks like he could pull a tug boat swimming with a rope in his mouth. On Special Teams, on which they spent A LOT of time, they had three guys on Punt Returns: Randall Carroll, Andrew Abbott, and Taylor Embree, and the Punts that I saw were not muffed, but there were no gunners putting pressure on them.
I have recently read some comments about how DIFFERENT the practices are this year, and also how this Coaching regime runs things so differently than the previous one. Personally, I don’t see it. For the last 7 years or so, the practices are pretty much the same. The differences come more from individual Assistants. A couple of years ago, it seemed like there was MORE angry screaming and cursing and chewing out. Yesterday was pretty calm compared to that. But basically, in my opinion, the overall practices haven’t changed that much over the years.
But one thing DID change this year, and the one who suffers, believe it or not, is YOU. After 4 segments of the practice, a UCLA staffer came up to me in the crowd and told me that I couldn’t take photos after the 4th quarter (the warm-up segments). I thought he was joking. I told him that I’ve been taking photos of these practices for 10 years, and then asked if my “connection” in the Football office was around. Unfortunately, she is apparently no longer there, so I was out of options and had to put my camera away.
So, you get only 6 more Practice photos today. And WHY? WTF??? Why the Double-Secret Probation? Why the secrecy… in April? Is Neuheisel really afraid that Lane Kiffin is sending moles to Spaulding Field to get a jump on next year’s game? And does Neuheisel, or whoever came up with this SEEMINGLY-idiotic rule, really think that snapshots of Spring practice are really going to aid the enemy? I repeat: WTF?
Is that why the team has sucked for two years? Did Pete Carroll smuggle UCLA Practice photos out of Westwood and distribute them to all the other coaches? Don’t they realize that if an opponent wants to know what the Bruins are up to, they could easily use a hidden camera, or a phone camera, or they could videotape the entire thing from either of two parking lots. But no, now the real fans can’t get to see the cool and totally innocuous shots I would have gotten, of Ricky Marvray and Nelson Rosario going up to snag ground-to-air missiles.
Maybe they’ll shut down this web site, if I DESCRIBE a formation. I just don’t get it. Is it just an unnatural fear of YouTube? Why is the Practice even open to the public? Oh well. I don’t want any trouble with the good people in Blue and Gold, so I abided by the new but totally f*cked-up rule. At least there were no Cheerleaders for me to not be able to shoot.
Speaking of Cheerleaders, there is now only ONE DAY LEFT in the countdown to the UCLA Spirit Squad Fan Afternoon Reception. The party is at James West Alumni Center on UCLA’s campus, Sunday, April 11th, from 4p-6p. In honor of there being only ONE day left, here are 13 SOLO shots of 13 different UCLA Cheerleaders. But first, here are 6 shots from practice (before the agent acting on behalf of the Camera Nazis did their dirty work), AND, 8 random photos from the Track Meet that was taking place at Drake Stadium, simultaneous to the Practice.
All the photos enlarge when you click them, and they produce a pop-up caption if you mouse-over them.