Friday, April 17, 2009

Second Scrimmage of the Spring

So I finally got out to Spaulding field today. I was standing in the south parking lot with a number of other Bruin fans and we had a front-and-center view of the action. It was a tough evening for the offense and probably our best lineman went down with injury. A sign of things to come or merely growing pains for a young team? I sure hope it is the later.

I saw Kevin Prince for the first time tonight and came away impressed. During the warm-ups and 7-7's he definitely had the most "zip" to his passes. His passes got to the receiver fast, were accurate, and he has the best throwing motion of all the guys out there. He can throw the ball down field too as his arm strength is better than any UCLA quarterback in recent memory.

Brehaut looks like he has a lot of potential as well. He isn't as polished as Prince, but I think he can scramble better and is a bit more athletic. He was mainly running with the second team during the scrimmage so it is hard to judge how well he would preform against a tougher defense. But I liked the way he played and he's a real competitor.

Kevin Craft had a tough day. After Prince and Breahaut took the first two series, Craft was given a chance to run the offense. His first throw was picked off. This of course elicited a round of groans from us fans standing on the parking structure. He was immediately yanked from the field but got back out there later in the scrimmage. Right away, his second pass was almost picked off and would have been intercepted if the defender had hung onto the ball. I think Kevin pretty much confirmed that he won't be seeing the field this season.

The passing game was not good today. Not good at all. There were three or four balls batted down. Receivers were dropping passes. The quarterbacks, as a group, were really struggling. Prince, who looked really sharp in the warm-ups and 7-7's, ended up throwing two late interceptions. The pass protection was poor and that surely didn't help. I counted at least 5 sacks.

On the other side was the running game. Which I thought was pretty good. What really impressed me was the three freshman: Knox, Dean, and Franklin.

Franklin, who got reps with the 1st and 2nd string offense, is a quick dude. He cranked out a couple of really nice runs and he looked explosive getting through the holes. He really fights hard for those extra yards and I like him a lot. I think he could see some significant minutes this season.

Dean really showed some of that raw talent that intrigued us fans during his recruitment. He was a tough runner tonight as he bulldozed his way through the line. He carried the team forward during one of his series and punched the ball into the end zone for touch down. It was good to see him get some success on the field.

I finally got to see Knox play in a UCLA uniform. Man, it is hard not to think of Mo Drew when you see him. He looks so much like him. He even runs like Maurice, and he pin-balled out of a pile on one play and bounced it to the outside for a gain instead of a loss. He was tough to bring down, all be it with the 3rd string defense, and he had probably the flashiest runs of the day.

The receivers didn't have too many great plays tonight. Seeing Presely for the first time was fun. That guy is skinny as a rake but you can see that he has huge upside. He was running with the 1st string for much of the practice and had some nice receptions during the 7-on7's. Chris Forcier got out there a bit and even caught a TD pass from Craft; he made a nice move and juked the defender out of his socks. He has great speed and it would be great to see him out on the field in some way. The players must feel the same way as everyone went out of their way to congratulate him after the TD reception.

I have to say I didn't focus much on the defense. They played well, as you would expect. One interesting thing was Andrew Abbott(#26) ended up getting two late interceptions on Prince. I had to go look him up because I didn't recognize his number. He played well today as I think he broke up at least one other play. Maybe he'll see the field this season?

Another interesting play was on a run by Knox. He ran into a pile, bounced around, and ran back a few yards and to his left. He had nothing but open field in the flat and some blockers to guide the way. Knox is a fast dude and I thought for sure he was going to take it to the house. But he was caught from behind, after just a few yards, by Courtney Viney. It was a really nice defensive play.

The biggest news of the day was Kai Maiava getting injured. He went down on a run near the end of the scrimmage. He was in a lot of pain and the trainers came out to check on him. He sat on the ground for a long time, grimacing. He was helped off the field and didn't put any weight on his left foot. It looked like an ankle sprain. Not good.

So, all in all, it was a fun time out at Spaulding. The running game looked better than I expected but I left disappointed about how the quarterbacks played. I'm sure it is a combination of a lot of things, including the defense being familiar with our play book, but this offense still has a long ways to go before the start of the season.

Can't wait for the spring game next Saturday!

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