The first day of pads has come and gone ..."/>

The first day of pads has come and gone ..."/>

Bruin Notes: First Day of Pads


The first day of pads has come and gone in Westwood. Finally, we can start to see who can play ball, and who will be backing up their position. These practices should give us a clear-cut indication to the starting twenty-two players for UCLA this Fall, right? Well, yes, eventually, but there is a long way to go. UCLA has several position battles still going on, and a lot of uncertainties. That being said, the competitions should provide for an increase in play, and an increase in depth. Let’s take a look at some of the unsolved issues facing the Bruins through the first day of camp.

Coach Neuheisel beat the reporters to the punch today, reporting on the QB battle before they could even ask. In an increasingly muddled picture, Neuheisel reported that Richard Brehaut was “terrific,” while Kevin Prince made some “poor throws.” Prince(right) has beaten out Brehaut in two consecutive seasons, and looked like the starter as long as, oh, 3 days ago. Now, the position is anyone’s guess.

Sticking with the QBs, Neuheisel and Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson are getting inventive in order to improve the Bruins passing game, which finished fifth to last in the nation last year. First, they are having their Quarterbacks roll out on many plays, which is an attempt to alleviate pressure by avoiding straight gap shots from defenders. Secondly, they are asking their Quarterbacks to check down and throw to the Running Backs much more than they did in the past. This too should alleviate pressure faced from the defenses. Combined, this could provide a major increase in the passing game, all the while taking the pressure off of the offensive line and eventual signal caller.

Speaking off the passing game….one day after the wide receivers were roundly criticized for dropping passes, the corps came out and excelled Friday. Most notably was Josh Smith, who was kicked out of drills on Thursday for “not knowing what he was doing.” Neuheisel downplayed this move on Friday, saying Smith is “an intelligent player, but his concentration has to be on football.” He reiterated that the Bruins were only interested in playing smart, dedicated players who knew what they were doing. Neuheisel added that WRs Shaq Evans, Devin Lucien, and Ricky Marvray were all “exciting players,” although Neuheisel’s tone didn’t seem to match his words. It seemed as if it were a better day for the receivers, but there remains a lot of work to be done.
Some injury news to report – Safety Tony Dye sat out practice on Friday with a groin pull. The sitting is thought to be precautionary though; nothing major. Also, LB Jordan Zumwalt was diagnosed with a concussion. He will be sitting out to go through the standard concussion precautions. This comes as a pretty significant injury, as Zumwalt started four games at MLB last year, and was in a battle with OLB Glenn Love for a full time starting position this year. We will track his progress with the injury.

On the positive side, injured F-Back Anthony Barr hopes to return to practice tomorrow. It would be great to have the starting F-Back back to see how the offense protects, and to see if they could utilize Barr at all in the passing game. As I mentioned the other day, F-Back Damien Thigpen, who is sitting out with an injured hamstring, will be lucky to be back for the first game against Houston.

The main source of pessimism on Friday came from the kicking game, or lack there of. UCLA is having trouble replacing Kai Forbath. It’s a three man battle between Kip Smith, Punter Jeff Locke, and walk-on Joe Roberts. Neuheisel was not impressed with any kicker’s consistency. He said that he was trying to not do too much with Locke, and Roberts looked “ok” at times. Many of the kicks came at the tail end of the two-minute drills UCLA started to practice today. Obviously, this is something that needs to be fixed before the season starts. The last thing a potentially struggling offense needs is a struggling kicker to boot (no pun intended).

There will be a mini scrimmage on Saturday. This should go a long way in determining the starters and potential break out players.

And finally, I’ll leave you with video of everyone’s favorite drill, the Oklahoma drill. Remember, when it comes to blocking or driving like this: the low man wins, and you can never stop moving your feet. You’ll see that more often than not, despite any size difference, the man who follows those two rules is successful (Red Shirt Freshman LB Jared Koster is a perfect example of this at 1:25).

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