In the driver’s seat, new QB Kevin Prince answers the call, but the car he’s driving starts up with a crank
Operator? Give me Dial-a-Prayer.
There is a reason why Terry Donahue, Dick Vermeil, Jerry Robinson, and Rick Neuheisel were all stressing PATIENCE when they spoke to the Rose Bowl crowd at UCLA’s Spring Scrimmage last night. After watching the 2008 Bruins go 4-8 and put out one of the worst Offensive performances in the Country, and in the History of the school — and then after watching the first half of the scrimmage — it’s easy to see why everyone wants the expectations to be low.
Even though both Kevin Prince and new back-up Richard Brehaut (pronounced: “Bree-ho”) showed some moxie, ability to think on their feet, and most importantly, the ability to get the ball deep downfield, it may not be enough to improve the Offense to the necessary level.
The first half-hour of the scrimmage was full of Turnovers, miscues, drops, missed assignments, bad passes, and no holes for the Running Backs to penetrate. The crowd was having flashbacks, wondering once again if the Defense is really that good, or if the Offense is really that bad. Last year, there was a feeling that Cornerback Alterraun Verner would score more Touchdowns than the Bruin Offense. After Verner snagged a Prince pass at the start of the scrimmage — and returned it into the red zone — the deja vu was getting stronger.
Luckily, this is NOT a doom and gloom story — As the scrimmage progressed, the Offense IMPROVED mightily. The QB’s settled down, finding a couple of plays that worked: A quick pass along the line of scrimmage, all the way to the sidelines, for 5-9 yard, “take-what-they-give-you” gains, and a great misdirection play where it looks like the QB is starting to scramble one way, then flips it back to a Halfback on a screen, the OTHER way. If memory serves correctly, Jonathan Franklin was the recipient of two of those productive screens. Franklin also scored the first TD of the scrimmage — a TD people were starting to think may never come.
But the Offense seemed to wear down the Defense a little bit, because all of the Running Backs had impressive runs late in the scrimmage. Finally, Milton Knox, Aundre Dean, Raymond Carter, and Derrick Coleman all looked like they belonged on the field. And that’s not really a knock on them — it’s not their fault they’ve had nowhere to run.
And playing against the likes of Brian Price, Reggie Carter, Kyle Bosworth and Verner, many teams won’t be able to gain lots of yards. The Defense also got big hits from Aaron Hester, Jeff Dickmann, and Glenn Love, and would have gotten lots more, but they weren’t allowed to hit the QB’s.
The only thing sadder than Brian Price breaking through for a sack but having to pull up, was trying to deal with Chris Roberts “announcing” the game on the Rose Bowl P.A. System. He was sitting at a table at the 50 yard line, halfway up the seats — a lot closer to the field than the Press Box — but that didn’t seem to help. Poor Mr. Roberts needs a new “Spotter,” new glasses, or an early retirement party, because in a very short span, he called Nelson Rosario “Tobi Umodu,” he called Antwaan Moutra “Chris Forcier,” he called Milton Knox “Jonathan Franklin,” and worst of all, on a pass to #7 Morrell Presley, he announced the intended receiver as Courtney Viney, who, of course is #7 on the Defense, and who does NOT play both ways.
At least someone was there to constantly correct the poor guy, who made no excuses or apologies for his utter cluelessness. Just like the Athletic Department, when asked why UCLA fans are stuck with someone who is incapable of physically perceiving everything — make that “almost ANYTHING” — that happens on the field. “Was that a fumble?” Gee, I don’t know, buddy — You think that’s why the Defense is jumping around, holding the ball, and the Ref is pointing the other way?
At least the Cheerleaders showed up. Three Dance Teamers, and three Cheer Squadmembers, and all six of them looked excellent (with one new, adorable hairstyle). This could be the last time we see some (or all) of them, so please observe a moment of silence as you are appreciating the photos below.
All photos ENLARGE when you click on them, and have mouse-over, hidden captions. Please enjoy. Responsibly.