Monday, April 30, 2007

Hart Linebacker commits to Bruins

Patrick Larimore, a junior linebacker from Hart High of Newhall, received an offer from UCLA and quickly committed this weekend. He is the 13th commitment for the Bruins in a pivotal 2008 recruiting class.

Patrick had his coming-out party during the annual Nike football combine at USC a few weeks ago. He had a great showing and impressed a lot of scouts. "He was unbelievable, probably one of the top two linebackers, and his film is off the charts," said Greg Biggins, recruiting director at Student Sports. "The kid's a monster with great feet, just a great player."

Patrick set a school record last season with 138 tackles. He earned all-league and all-CIF honors and some recruiters think he'll be one of the state's top defensive players next year. In early rankings for high school players, Patrick is considered a 3-star. However, that should improve if he continues to impress scouts his senior season.

Measuring in at 6-2 and 230 lbs, Larimore has excellent size and drives through ball carriers with a lot of force. UCLA's defense has had undersized linebackers the last two years, so this is a great addition to the defense.

Academically, he is carrying a 3.6 GPA and scored a 1760 on the SAT.

There are some free videos of Larimore on the net. Here is a workout video and another. One of Patrick catching a pass. Here are two very impressive highlight reels from Bruin Blitz.

When asked why he chose UCLA, Patrick had this to say: “I went to a practice and the coaches, I really like how they’re positive. And their record is good. Coach (Chuck) Bullough, the linebacker’s coach, he played in the NFL, coached in the NFL, coached Brian Urlacher. The defense is really good, and DeWayne Walker, the defensive coordinator, he has a great defense, beat USC last year. And in this case, how do you beat a UCLA education?’’


Spring Practice: Secondary

The secondary for the Bruins will probably be the strongest unit in an already strong defense. They will start 4 Seniors next season and have a star in sophomore Alterraun Verner. Redshirt junior cornerback Michael Norris is returning from injury to back up redshirt senior Trey Brown, adding even more depth to the unit.

"He’s looking pretty good, defensive coordinator" DeWayne Walker said of Norris. "We were thin last year at that position, in the Pac-10 you need as many corners as you can get. So we’re real happy that he’s back, and so far so good".

While the unit as a whole is very experienced, there is one new thing that the group will have to adjust to. Rather than working with strong-side, weak-side assignments like the defense did a year ago, the Bruins will go with left-side, right-side assignments. With the change, corners will stay put on one side instead of rotating back and forth throughout the game. Walker noted that the change will allow the corners to drill in certain plays more so than in the past.

"Whether coach Walker tells us to line up here or line up there, on Strathmore Avenue or the Morgan Center, it doesn’t really matter", Brown said. "We got to go out there, line up, and make some plays."

Horton continues to play with a wrist injury that he has had since 2005. It didn't impact his game much in 2006 and it probably won't impact him this season either. He says it occasionally hinders his ability to grab an interception.

"When the doctor tells you your wrist is a career-threatening injury, and I made it past the stage the doctors said I wouldn't make it past because I don't have to wear that cast anymore, I'm happy," Horton said. "As long as I'm out on the field, I'm happy."

Spring Game

In the spring game, Dennis Keyes intercepted an early pass from Cowan and ran it back for a touch down. The defense dominated the entire scrimage and the secondary made it difficult for Ben or Pat to achieve much success in the passing game.

"We came in wanting to dominate," cornerback Rodney Van said. "We wanted to show that this defense is everything that people have said it is. We're the best defense our offense will see."

(sources: Daily Bruin, LA Times, OC Register)

Spring Practice: Linebackers

The goal of the linebacker corps this spring was to add some depth to a unit that had some issues with injuries in 2006. That included getting experience for backup middle linebacker Kyle Bosworth, who played sparingly last season and was ineffective in his one start in the place of an injured Christian Taylor.

"He's one I've been looking at to make some steps forward to make us, as a staff, feel great about our depth there," Dorrell said. "He's still making mistakes, but he is (making the right calls) for the most part. He's playing better than where he was in the fall, so we're encouraged by that."

The Bruins also added a JC transfer to the 2007 roster, Mike Schmitt, who committed to UCLA in the middle of the spring practice. He is a bit of an unknown, who came to Westwood after only one year at Pheonix College of Arizona. Schmitt still has 3 years of eligibility and will probably take the next scholarship that frees up this fall.

Aaron Whittington and John Hale battled it out for the starting spot at strong side linebacker. Whittington, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior, started 10 games at strong side linebacker last year, but an ankle injury created an opportunity for Hale, a 6-4, 225-pound junior who started three of the last four games. Both have had good springs and it doesn't look like the coaches are ready to name a starter.

"It's a battle every day," Whittington said. "Every day is an interview. But I'm confident they'll make the right decision in terms of who's going to play because I don't think they can go wrong with either of us."

Hale has also been working at middle linebacker with the second-string defense, so he could play some as Christian Taylor's backup. No matter what, he said, he's determined to get on the field somewhere.

"It definitely motivates you more when you're looking for a spot," Hale said. "Especially when you're competing against a player the caliber of Whittington. It definitely pushes you."

(sources: Daily Breeze, LA Times, OC Register, Brian Dohn)

Spring Practice: Defensive Line

The defensive line is the only defensive unit to lose a starter from the 2006 season. The departure of Justin Hickman is a significant one as he and Davis lead the team and the conference in sacks (12.5). Looking to replace his minutes are Nickola Dragovic, who started the first few games of the 2005 season before having a season ending leg injury ( he tore the ACL in his left knee), and a walk-on transfer from UC Davis Tom Blake.

When asked to compare Dragovic to Hickman, defensive line coach Todd Howard said "He's 20-30 pounds heavier than Hickman and a lot stronger, He may not be as athletic as Hickman, but he can do something Hickman couldn't because of his size."

"Coach Howard has really helped with the little things," said Dragovic, "Mostly with footwork and using different styles. We have freedom to make decisions out there, to make plays or to screw up."

By all accounts Blake had a great spring practice and he impressed the coaches with his athletic ability and quickness. Going into the fall, Dragovic will likely be the starter opposite Bruce Davis but I think Blake will push him for time. "Blake has looked good in camp," Howard said. "But he has the most to learn."

Brigham Harwell and Kevin Brown both reported some weight gain this Spring. One of the nocks on UCLA's line over the last few years has been their small size. Both tackles are near 300 lbs and should be the big bodies the Bruins have desperately needed in the middle. Chase Moline missed the spring practice after undergoing surgery on his back.

After meeting with the coaching staff, UCLA all-American defensive end Bruce Davis said he changed his offseason workout regimen, which now includes plyometrics (for explosion) and a more concerted effort to gain upper-body strength. Davis said, "With the plyometrics, I feel like I'm a step quicker in everything I do, In our offseason meetings, the coaches stressed for me to get my strength way up." Davis reported that his bench press increased from 345 pounds to 400, his squat went from 465 to 525 and his clean went from 295 to 315.

Spring Game

The defense as a whole was spectacular during the spring game. Some of that was because of the strength and experience on defense, but the main reason was that the offense struggled with the new system.

When asked about the offense's struggles, Davis had this to say, “Let’s face it – we have an NFL system with NFL coaches. We’re just comfortable with our system and they’re not. That’s just plain and simple. They’re going to hit a lot of bumps in the road, especially against us. They’re going to have their hardships but it’s nothing they can’t work out.”

(sources: Daily Breeze, LA Times, Daily Bruin, OC Register)

Spring Practice: Special Teams

When asked about special teams at the start of the Spring, Dorrell had this to say, "Our specialists? To me that's a big issue. We had a pretty darn good kicker the past few years (in Justin Medlock). We have a good, young kicker right now in Kai Forbath. That's always a challenge for your first-year kicker to replace an All-American. Kai's going to have to come through for us and he knows that. He's very talented but it's one of those things -- it's a trade what they do. We're looking to put him under some pressure this spring because he's going to have to get used to it."

After about a week, Dorrell said he wasn't as pleased with the kicking game as the rest of the units. Kai Forbath was wide left on a number of attempts and he struggled with consistency. The right-footed kicker was having trouble when lined up on the left hash mark.

"That was disappointing," Dorrell said. "We wanted to see if on the spur of the moment they could hit those field goals. We have to keep testing our kickers."

Perez was more consistent and improved this spring then in previous years. The punter has increased his average distance each season and he looked good during punt return drills. He still struggles with the occasional shank, but much better than where he was this time last year.

Christian Yount is already looking good as a long snapper. His snaps were timed at one practice and all were under 0.9 seconds with most in the 0.75 to 0.82 range. Apparently he has added some size. He is a polished long snapper and it is apparent he has developed his technique over the years. It was reported that a graduate assistant was helping him with his footwork post snap.

Spring Game

Kicker Kai Forbath connected on two of three field goals, missing one from short range, including a long of 27 yards. Jimmy Rotstein was 3-for-3 with a long of 34 yards.

(sources: Daily Bruin, Bruin Gold, LA times)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Drew Olson - Week 3 (redux)

The NFL network showed the Admirals game today at 3:00 AM (thank goodness for Tivo). I didn't watch the whole thing but did catch the final drive. Drew had a masterful effort. He connected on 9 of 9 passes and lead the team on a 65 yard scoring drive in the final 5 minutes.

It was probably the best series I had seen Olson put together since the very first drive in the first game. He look poised, hitting his receivers on crossing routes and dumping off to the backs on these nice little swing passes. He has struggled the last two weeks in the second half, so it was great to see him get over that hurdle.

(photo: )

Spring Practice: Running Backs

Spring practice for the running backs can be summed up in one word: "injuries".

The practices started on a negative note when Chris Markey went down with a stress fracture to his foot. Apparently, Chris injured his foot during the 2006 season but he managed to play through the pain. He aggravated the injury at the very start of the spring schedule and he missed almost all of the practices.

Likewise, fellow tail back Derrick Williams suffered a concussion and missed a good deal of the spring. Derrick was examined by a neurologist, but his long-term status is still unknown. This is the third concussion Williams has suffered since coming to UCLA. "He has a history with this and we want to make sure everything is done right," Dorrell said. "That can be a problem with spring football. You want guys to hit and want them to learn. Sometimes there are casualties."

Williams said he will meet with doctors next week and then make a decision on his future. "We haven't talked about (ending his career) yet," Williams said. "Right now it's just about me resting my head. It's nothing I can make decisions on yet. We have to wait for the doctors after the spring. It just takes time to evaluate the head."

The Bruins are even thinner at fullback, as starter Michael Pitre is the only scholarship player listed on the depth chart. Chane Moline will see some time at fullback, as will Dylan Rush, who has been moved from defensive end.

Pitre saw limited action during the spring but he is expected to be ready by August, though his recovery from knee surgery eight weeks ago has gone slower than expected. "It's tough because I want to be in there and learn the offense," Pitre said. "But we want to make sure this is 100% in August. I'm just now getting my strength back where I can lift" weights.

All the injuries have given other players a chance to step up and prove themselves this Spring. In particular, former walk-on Ryan Carew and Kahlil Bell made the most of their new found minutes.

"Kahlil Bell has put on some weight", Dorrell said. "He’s closer to 220 pounds right now (compared to being listed at 205 last season), and we’ve been wanting to get a bigger back presence, so he’s had a good offseason. I know he’s anxious to get himself back in the fold."

Rick Kimbrel, of Bruin Blitz, said that "Bell has had an outstanding spring. He is running angry, with power and a purpose". I have never been a big fan of Bell as he didn't bring much speed or size last season. Hopefully this additional weight and motivation will up his game to the next level.

By all accounts, Ryan Carew had a great spring as well. "It's great to see how he's persevered. From being a walk-on, to coming back from his knee injury, he's really worked hard," said UCLA defensive end Kenneth Lombard, who was Carew's roommate last year. "It's just great to see him out there, getting a chance to play now. He's having a great spring and I think he's turning some heads."

Raymond Carter is the X-factor for the Bruin running game. Since he is still a senior in high school, he didn't participate in the spring practices. However, big things are expected of Carter when he arrives in Westwood this summer.

"The biggest part is he has speed", Dorrell said, "He has the big speed factor. That’s where he impacts us and why we recruited him. He’s 200-plus pounds right now and running track, and physically getting bigger and stronger and doing well. We’re going to throw him in there and see how he fits in there".

Spring Game

The running game definitely missed Markey, Williams, and Pitre, all of whom sat out the practice with injuries. They struggled for most of the night and didn't put up very good numbers. Khalil Bell had 13 carries for 40 yards with 2 TDs. Chane Moline had 12 carries for only 26 yards


(sources: LA Daily News, LA Times, Brian Dohn, Bruin Blitz, Daily Bruin, OC Register)

Spring Practice: Receivers and Tight Ends

Like the running backs, the receiving corp was plagued with injuries this spring. The practices were usually full of receivers watching from the sidelines. Wideout Brandon Breazell suffered one of the more significant injuries. He came down awkwardly on a catch during the first week of practice and an MRI showed that he had a PCL strain and a possible tear.

Dorrell said, "We anticipate a pretty good recovery and have him be ready to go in the fall. He is not expected to need surgery."

Brandon's injury is very similar to the knee injury that sidelined Joe Cowan for the entire 2006 campaign. Even without surgery, the injury can require months of rehabilitation before the player can see the field again. The good news for Breazell is that he still has four months before the first game against Stanford.

The silver lining with injuries is that it gives an opportunity for new players to step into the spotlight. This fact wasn't lost on some of the less experienced receivers, as they tried to make the most of their newly found playing time.

"We’re missing our top three or four receivers right now", Dorrell said. "We’re trying to hang on and finish this last week. ... It’s good for the young players. It’s good for the guys that are healthy that haven’t had time in terms of these kinds of reps."

With only five healthy receivers, Terrence Austin was the main target for the quarterbacks at a number of practices. "Technically I’m a starter now", Austin said. "Considering that two of the guys above me are down and I’m just going to go from there."

New wide receiver coach Eric Scott announced that he is doing away with the frequent substitutions that were utilized by his predecessor, D.J. McCarthy. Scott is returning to a merit based philosophy with the best players seeing the majority of the minutes. This will help the receivers get into a rhythm and make sure the most experienced players are on the field for critical downs. This should be welcome news to all Bruin fans as the receiver rotation was a frequent complaint last season.

Another thing the offense will be looking to do more of this season is getting the ball downfield and letting the experienced receivers make plays. "(Offensive coordinator Jay Norvell) pretty much wants a certain caliber out of his receivers and he thinks that I can add to it", Austin said. "So I think I’ll get to showcase some of my talent in this new offense.

William Snead is making progress at tight end, still less than a year removed from a position switch from defensive end. He does not always catch the ball cleanly, or catch it at all, but Dorrell said that more time in the offense could cure that.

"His hands are actually pretty good, it's just awareness," Dorrell said. "I don't know that he really anticipates when the ball is coming. A lot of the passes he ends up not having success with are because he gets his head around just at the time the ball gets there, and he's not ready for it.''

Spring Game

Brian Dohn reported the following stats for WR and TE:

Marcus Everett 2 catches, 20 yards, TD
Adam Heater 2 catches, 20 yards
Logan Paulsen 2 catches, 19 yards

(sources: LA Daily News, LA Times, Brian Dohn)

Drew Olson - Week 3

With the NFL draft coverage, the NFL network didn't show the Admirals game today. Too bad, because Drew Olson threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Japanese wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita with 53 seconds remaining to lead the Amsterdam Admirals to a 14-10 victory over the Berlin Thunder.

The late game heroics brought back memories of Drew leading the Bruins on those amazing 4th quarter victories in 2005.

Olson went 19 of 31 for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. One good thing about Drew starting for Amsterdam is that the Admirals throw a lot of passes. They lead the league in attempts and it seems like Drew is passing on almost every down.

( photo:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring Practice: Quarterbacks

The battle for the starting spot at quarterback was billed as the highlight of the spring scrimmages. Would the coaches go with Ben Olson, the much heralded lefty who started the first 5 games of 2006 before being injured? Or would they stick with Pat Cowan, the gritty scrambler who led the Bruins to their huge upset victory over the Trojans last December.

Another wrinkle in the whole selection process was the hiring of a new offense coordinate, Jay Norvell, from Nebraska. Norvell introduced his own variation of the west coast offense, which included a new more-verbose vocabulary for calling plays. This meant that Pat and Ben would be learning a whole new system, even if some of the plays and routes were similar. He also implemented a faster pace to the offense with an emphasis on getting in plays quickly.

There was a big dump of information to start the spring. Norvell wanted to just get everything into the players’ heads and then work out the kinks during the practices. By the last week of spring ball, Dorrell had this to say about the quarterbacks' grasp of the new offense, “We've put in about everything we're going to put in. You can see that they are starting to feel like they know everything."

In addition to the new vocabulary, it sounds like Norvell is implementing a number of new formations, including a spread-like set with multiple receivers. During the spring practice, the offense was consistently shifting formations on the line and they implemented some irregular plays. Norvell also seems committed to using more of the shotgun as it was utilized a number of times during the spring. He even introduced some trick plays, including a pass back to the QB from the fullback.

"There are a lot of new plays and formations and terminology," Olson said. "We're going out of the shotgun more and running some no back formations. I'm feeling more comfortable out there now."

Along with his coordinator responsibilities, Norvell is also in charge of the quarterbacks. When asked to compare the two leading signal callers, Norvell said, "Pat has been more disciplined. The first week I think he was trying to do more than he was being asked. I said to him, 'Two plus two is four, don't try to make it five.' "

As for Olson, Norvell said, "You can see his talent and his athletic ability. He's playing with more confidence. He's confident in the pocket and he is confident in getting the ball to receivers. I've seen that the last few days."

From eye witness accounts, it sounds like both quarterbacks had up and down days. The early reports from the start of the spring were of an offense that was struggling and getting dominated by the defense. You expect that to some degree, as the offense was attempting to learn a new system. However, as the practice progressed, it sounds like both Pat and Ben improved on their numbers.

Norvell stressed accuracy and told the QBs that they would have to do push-ups whenever they miss targets during drills.

The following stats were drawn out of a number of eye witness and news paper accounts. The numbers may not be entirely accurate and they include 11-on-11, 7-on-7, and red-zone drills. They don’t include every practice, but rather a sampling of all the practice days. They should not be taken as absolute measures, but they are an interesting metric of how the two leading quarterbacks compare to each other.

21st: 4 of 9 for 28 yards, 2 TD.
18th: 7 of 13 for 69 yards, 1 INT
16th: 11 of 20 for 95 yards, 1 TD.
15th: 13 of 20 for 125 yards
12th: 6 of 11 for 100 yards, 1 INT.

The final tally for Ben was 41 of 73, 417 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT. That’s a QB rating of 112 with a 56% competition rate and 5.7 yards / attempt.

21st: 2 of 6 for 9 yards, 1 TD
18th: 5 of 6 for 65 yards, 2 TD
16th: 8 of 12 for 88 yards.
15th: 11 of 16 for 79 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
12th: Cowan 2 of 8 for 7 yards.

Adding all that up for Pat and you get 28 of 48, 248 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT. That gives Cowan a QB rating of 132 with a 58% completion rate with 5.2 yards / attempt .

Just from these numbers it looks like Olson took a significantly larger number of snaps. I don’t know if this was because he kept drives alive or if the coaches intentionally gave him more repetitions. In either case, it sounds like the coaches got to see a lot more of Ben during the camp.

Both guys have pretty similar accuracy numbers. Dorrell mentioned that Ben was more accurate during the scrimmages and that was one of the main reason he selected Ben as the starter. The above numbers don't seem to corroborate that assessment, but I don't have numbers from the last week of practice and Olson may have outperformed Cowan during that time.

"He's been more accurate as a passer, he's done the things we've asked him to do," Norvell said. "He's moved the team in scrimmages. Those are the things that he's done and, we'll continue to do that."

Olson also appeared to be more effective in red zone drills. He completed two TD passes in the drills on the 21st and they may have cemented his spot as the starter. The Bruins struggled to score touch downs last season while in the red zone and that appears to be an area of focus for this team in 2007.

Spring Game

In the spring game, both quarterbacks struggled against a swarming defense. Olson completed only 7 of 16 passes for 89 yards and one TD. Cowan 's numbers were even worse, 13 of 24 and 2 INT.

The encouraging thing is we stopped ourselves," Olson said. "We messed up on a few assignments, but I felt we've done really well this entire spring. We definitely have a lot to improve upon, and I'm excited about it"


(sources: LA Daily News, LA Times, Bruin Gold,, OC Register)

Spring Practice: Offensive Line

One of the bigger adjustments for the offensive line this spring is the change from the weak side-strong side system that Dorrell has implemented for the past three year. The line is reverting to a simpler right-and-left scheme to keep linemen in consistent positions. This should help the players get more comfortable with their assignments.

The line has undergone some personnel changes as well. The coaches are focused on getting the best five linemen on the field, not necessarily by position. Noah Sutherland will move to left guard from the tackle position, Chris Joseph will be making starts at center instead of guard and Shannon Tevaga will anchor the line at right guard.

Joseph probably has the biggest transition to make, moving to center to replace Chai. He hasn't played the position since high school. To help ease that transition, the responsibilities of the center have been lessened, which means Joseph does not have to make all of the line calls and adjustments.

"A lot of the responsibility was on the center last year," Joseph said. "A little bit less so this year, but it's just part of the position."

Under new offensive line coach Bob Connelly, the focus so far has been on technique and footwork rather than more of the big-picture lessons that former coach Jim Colletto brought last season. He has also made adjustments to the pass-protection scheme.

Tevaga had this to say about what they learned this Spring, "It's always good to learn in practice. Especially with new coaches, it's good to see different kind of things from different coaches. There's stuff that I hadn't even learned yet that Connelly's taught me, so I'm just taking it day by day."

There was some significant competition at the right tackle position during the camp. Brian Abraham continues to out-perform Aleksey Lanis, so it looks like Abraham will enter fall camp as the starter. Alexis was hampered by injuries and has struggled to perform during the practices and scrimages. Abraham has been taking reps with the first team, while Lanis switched between right and left tackle with the second team.

"Based on eight practices and taking the instruction and doing what we're asking (Abraham) to do right now with our schemes, he's in that position," UCLA offensive line coach Bob Connelly said in the second week of the camp, "We're trying to build depth and trying to build competition."

Connelly said part of Lanis' problem are injuries. Offseason right knee surgery is keeping Lanis from weight training with his lower body, and he still is recovering from a broken left forearm suffered against the Trojans. Lanis started 12 games last season, while Abraham played extensively during games in 2005.

"There are some things that have taken place that set him back physically," Connelly said. "He hasn't been able to do the things some of these other guys (can do), so his physical development is not where it needs to be. He's overweight right now. He's not in the shape he needs to be in, partly because his knee, I'm hoping."

Dorrell singled out the O-line as an area that has made the most progress this spring. "For what we've juggled and moving guys outside to inside and left to right and all those things that we've done, we've made a lot of progress at a pretty good pace".

Spring Game

The offense as a whole looked bad during the spring game. There were a number of missed blocks and broken plays and they gave up 4 sacks on Olson. They also weren't able to establish much of a running game either. The offensive line is obviously still adjusting to the new system.

"At the beginning, it was horrible," UCLA right guard Shannon Tevaga said. "We had a lot of free guys coming up the middle. We didn't block the guys. We were calling to the wrong (linebacker). We just made a lot of mental mistakes. We went to the wrong linebackers, hitting the wrong linemen, running the wrong way. Once we cleaned that up, we started clicking."

sources: LA Daily News, LA Times,, OC Register)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ben Olson named starting QB

In a surprise announcement, Karl Dorrell named Ben Olson the starting quarterback for the Bruins today. I fully expected Ben to get the nod, as he had considerably more reps this spring than Pat. The surprise was that it came this early. I was thinking it would come sometime in the next week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mandel's 2007 Power Rankings

The 2007 edition of spring football isn't over for all schools (the Bruins included) but that doesn't stop the experts from ranking the teams. The Bruins come in at a respectable #22 in Sports Illustrated rankings, which is about where I think this team will land in the polls come week 1. With Pat and Ben having modest (some would say poor) showings in the spring practice, it is hard to argue for UCLA being ranked any higher. Other PAC-10 teams making the list:
  • #1 USC. No surprise here. The Trojans are loaded and everyone's pre-season favorite to win it all.
  • #20 California. Lots of holes on defense, but an experienced QB and skilled players on offense.
  • #23 Oregon State. The Beavs lose Moore (which might be a good thing) and get back Bernard and Stroughter.

Collison coming back

Well, in a surprise to nobody, both Collison and Mbah Moute will be back next year. Neither is putting their name into the NBA draft. This means they can test the waters next year without an agent. UCLA will return 4 of the starers from last year's team (Mbah Moute, Collison, Shipp, and Mata) and when you add Kevin Love and Chace Stanback to the mix, the Bruins should be an excellent team.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Collison going Pro?

Everyone expected Aarron Afflalo to go to the NBA. He tested the waters last year and few thought the Junior would return for his Senior season. There were rumors that Shipp might jet for the pros, but he recently announced he would return. Like most Bruin fans, I thought that was the end of the story and we could get down to business and start thinking about next season.

But hold your horses.

Collison is now considering going to the NBA. A few days ago he was going to stay put, but now The LA Times is reporting that Collison is seriously considering declaring for the NBA draft. The consideration is so serious that his Mom is quiting her job to help with the deliberations. People close to the program say that Collison is likely coming back next year, but the lure of an NBA contract could be very enticing. He will make an official announcement on Wednesday.

Most fans, myself included, think Collison would benefit from another year at UCLA. The lanky point guard could use some time to add on a little more size and work on creating more for himself off the dribble. His speed and athleticism are attractive, but a little more refinement could make Darren a first round pick in a future draft. With the 2007 class so deep (and chocked full of underclassman) a jump this year doesn't make a lot of sense. The official deadline to declare for the draft is April 29th.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Saturday Practice Reports

Here are two great practice reports from Jeff_is_smiling over at Bruin Gold.

The first one and the second one from his brother.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

RaulAzul joins Bruin Roar

Fark Master RaulAzul has recently joined this blog as an author. Raul gained national attention for his epic thread on Bruin Report Online which poked fun at Florida Gator's star Joakim Noah. His pictures of Noah as Michael Jackson, Lord of the Dance, and a petite geisha girl garnered media attention from around the Net. A newspaper and a number of blogs ( here, here, and here), including the popular sports blog Dead Spin, marveled at Raul's creative genius.

Raul will be posting his original creations on this blog during the coming season, so check back often to view his latest offerings. In the meantime, here is a little sample of his work:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Drew Olson - Week 2

Drew started his second game for the Amsterdam Admirals, of NFL Europa, yesterday. This week's match featured two former PAC-10 quarterbacks as Olson faced off against Cody Picket who played for the Washington Huskies from '99-'03.

Here's the box score. Olson went 16-30 for 115 yards with no TDs and no INTs.

Olson got off to another good start this week. He completed 6 of his first 8 passes and helped lead the Admirals to a touchdown on their first series. Drew had a particularly nice pass on 3rd and long to keep that first drive alive.

After that first series however, things went quickly downhill. The Amsterdam O-line did a poor job of giving Drew time to pass and he would routinely find the pocket collapsing quickly around him. False start and holding penalties also helped stall out drives in that first half. Drew lost the ball on a fumble again this week, as he was stripped from
behind while scrambling on a broken play.

The second half wasn't any better as Drew continued to struggle. He had a number of early pass attempts that were off target. However, he did have a nice series near the end of the 3rd quarter, which featured a great catch and run from the running back Smith. Overall, not a great game for Drew.

It is interesting to listen to the commentators on the broadcast talk about Drew. In both games so far, they have mentioned that he has a great arm. I was surprised to hear them say that because arm strength was a common complaint from fans during his tenure at UCLA.

Here are some notes I had from last weeks game:

Drew Olson - Week 1

He got off to a great start and lead the first series 80 yards for a TD. He got dinged up on the next series and sat out a bit (that old knee injury acting up). Lead his 3rd drive for another TD. He had an INT in the last seconds of the 2nd quarter but otherwise had a great first half!

The second half wasn't so great as he got picked again and lost the ball on a fumble. The Amsterdam OC must really like Drew because he called in pass after pass. I think the defense started to key in on that. Olson finished the game having completed 22 of 35 passes for 260 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Shipp has second hip surgery

The official UCLA site has reported that Josh Shipp had successful hip surgery today. Josh had a outpatient arthroscopic left hip procedure performed by Dr. Carlos A. Guanche at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Van Nuys.

It was the same surgery that Shipp had on his right hip back in September of 2005. According to Dr. Guanche, the procedure repaired a torn labrum (cartilage) and also included a removal of an area of bony overgrowth of the femoral neck. Guanche said rehabilitation should take 8-12 weeks; Shipp will spend the first month on crutches.

"The surgery went very well and Josh should be able to begin his rehabilitation next week," Dr. Guanche said. "It is a very common procedure among elite-level athletes such as Josh. I have performed this surgery on NBA, NFL and NHL athletes and all have returned to their high-level of competition."

"I'm very pleased that the surgery was a successful one and look forward to Josh making a complete recovery," said Bruin head coach Ben Howland. "He has ample time to recover and be ready to go at 100 percent full strength by the time we start back up again in October."

"The surgery went as well as expected and I am happy to have Josh home and recovering," Deborah Shipp (Josh's mother) said. "We elected to have this surgery as a precautionary measure. It came as a complete surprise to us because Josh played so well this year and his left hip really wasn't bothering him. But when we learned that he had a small tear in his labrum, after consulting with his doctor, we decided to have the procedure done."

Josh looked great last season after surgery, so hopefully he bounces back just as strong from this procedure.

Thursday Spring Practice Report

Here is the latest Spring Practice report from Jeff_is_Smiling over on Bruin Gold. He always has great recaps and a ton of information about the practices. Truly great reads.

Thursday Report

Here are some of his previous reports for this week.

Tuesday Report

Monday Report

There was no practice on Wednesday.

The Best in the West

Scout released it's Hot 100 of the West today. Ten of UCLA's twelve commits for the 2008 class make the list, with 4 in the top-25.

#9 Rahim Moore
#18 Damien Holmes
#22 Datone Jones
#24 E.J. Woods
#30 Uona Kaveinga
#33 Kemonte Bateman
#40 Antwon Moutra
#50 Jerry Johnson
#60 Anthony Dye
#68 Aaron Hester

Recent commit, Audre Dean, makes the Hot 100 of the South West as well.

#33 Aundre Dean

Aundre Dean commits to Bruins.

Katy High School running back Aundre Dean committed to the Bruins yesterday. Dean originally had given a verbal commitment to Texas A&M but an unofficial visit to Westwood changed this mind. He's now saying he'll be a Bruin and he looks like a great pick-up for the staff.

Dean racked up 2,100 yards and scored 27 TDs as a junior. He was first-team all-district and all-greater Houston and an all-state honorable mention. Sometimes a recruit's numbers are inflated by playing against weaker competition, but Dean plays in Texas football's toughest division, 5A.

He stand at 6'1" and weights 200 lbs. Scout reports that he runs a 4.5 in the 40. Those numbers are very similar to another running back that graced the Rose Bowl turf for the Bruins, DeShaun Foster. He also runs a lot like Foster, with the speed to burn you and the power to knock you right over. Here are two videos of Dean in action:

Junior Highlight Reel

Another Highlight Reel

In an interview with Scout, Dean said, “Honestly, the reason I picked UCLA was mainly the coaching staff. In between the time from when I de-committed from A&M, they didn’t pressure. ... They knew that when I went up there for the maroon and white game it might have brought me closer to them. But it actually brought me closer to UCLA.”

UCLA doesn't usually get kids out of Texas, so it will be interesting to hear about how this kid ended up in Westwood. He looks like a great commitment and another addition to an already excellent 2008 recruiting class.