Spring Game: Controlled, Successful

You got the sense the defense was holding back on the offense, but the #1 O, under Richard Brehaut, looked effective, when it was clean. Nelson Rosario had a signature catch, and Johnathan Franklin a 40-yard scamper....

It was a fairly successful Spring Game, on both sides of the ball, for the Bruins Saturday.

The #1 offense moved the ball well on its second posssesion, driving 70 yards in 10 plays that cuiminated in a three-yard touchdown pass from Richard Brehaut to Nelson Rosario. Rosario did one of his signature catches, going up over the top of the defender (Sheldon Price), to haul it down.

The #1 offense was mostly limited by its own sloppiness, rather than ineffectiveness. Drives were stopped as a result of a poor snap from center in which Brehaut fumbled, a Derrick Coleman fumble, and false starts. But when the first string played error-free it looked like it could move the ball effectively.

The offense looks far more dynamic working out of the Pistol formation than it did last season. As we've said all spring, there's far more diversification -- with different variations of the formation, more motion, more slight misdirection in the run game, quicker throws, etc., that makes the offense far more unpredictable. And the players look far more confident, with the execution being crisper than it was previously.

Brehaut had a good evening. His official stats were 11 of 20 for 102 yards and 1 touchdown, but we saw only one errant pass thrown in his first several drives. His touchdown pass to Rosario was a well-thrown ball. He also threw a beautiful out to Rosario for a gain of 14, and a hitch to Taylor Embree.

Nick Crissman took the reps with the second-string, attempting four passes and completing two, for 17 yards. Crissman slung the ball confidently, too.

The first scoring drive was set up through a 40-yard scamper by Franklin, who sliced a bit off-tackle to find a seam. Franklin carried the ball only 4 times for a total of 50 yards.

Franklin looked stronger and quicker, but sat for most of the game. Redshirt freshman Jordon James got the bulk of the carries, working with the 3s and 4s, running the ball 7 times for 45 yards, accelerating through a hole for one gain of 17. Malcolm Jones ran strongly, with 3 carries for 25 yards, breaking off a nice 18-yarder. Coleman had just 2 carries for 12 yards.

Rick Neuheisel has said he wants to utilize Anthony Barr more, and this game was a clear indication of that. Barr ran the ball, both from the tailback and F-back spot, 6 times for 22 yards, and caught a pass for a gain of 11. He looked like he gained some confidence after a few touches, and showed some physicality in a run up the middle late in the game.

Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley started off pretty strongly in his first series -- against the first string offense, in fact -- going for 32 yards in 9 plays. He threw a pretty 15-yard out to Taylor Embree, hooked up with Ricky Marvray for a 6-yard completion on a flat route, and on a well-executed screen to Coleman that went for 18.

He threw one nice long ball into the endzone for an incompletion, where you could see his arm strength. He ran three series, and by the last one looked a little more confused than when he started, scrambling instead of throwing the ball away on one play, and experiencing a few miscues in the backfield.

Embree had the most receptions, with 5 for 24 yards, while Marvray had 3 for 26. Randall Carroll caught a hitch, and looked very shifty after the catch. Neuheisel took him aside after that catch to praise him. UCLA really spread the ball around, with 12 players having at least one reception. It was good to see Morrell Presley make a couple of catches, and looking strong doing it. It was also very good to see the running backs getting four receptions, something we didn't see much of in last year's version of the Pistol.

The offensive line, without three starters, did surprisingly well. The OL did well in run blocking, especially against the #1 DL. There were a number of plays, however, that were virtual sacks, but weren't called.

There was also the on-going issue of bad snaps. Kai Maiava, from what we could see, didn't play, or played very little. Back-up centers Greg Capella and Kory Innes struggled, though, to snap the ball efficiently. On one play Brehaut had to lunge for the snap and athletically make a 180 degree spin to then execute a handoff.

You got the impression that the defense was holding back some, though -- by design, to give the offense some opportunities. The new D, under Defensive Coordinator Joe Tresey, appears like it will be sending a great deal of pressure on the quarterback, and it held back some of it Saturday. The defense did allow a few good, legitimate runs from scrimmage, but also looked swarming and aggressive for most of the night. Jordan Zumwalt, after working as the second-string middle linebacker for most of the spring, got the nod with the 1s, and he led all tacklers with 5, and was credited with a sack and a tackle for loss. Eric Kendricks, the second-string weakside linebacker, getting a lot of reps since it's pretty clear at this point what veteran starter Sean Westgate can do, was a standout, flying all over the field, making a number of nice stops -- and big hits. He had a virtual sack, even though UCLA didn't credit him for it, and was in the backfield a number of times. Glenn Love, the starting strongside linebacker, also was very active, being around the ball constantly. Aramide Olaniyan, the redshirt freshman strongside linebacker, also flashed some talent, running down a tailback from the opposite side of the field on one play.

Walk-on middle linebacker Phillip Ruhl had the only interception of the night.

Redshirt freshman safety Tevin McDonald probably had the hit of the night, popping Randall Carroll.

Special teams were limited, with no kick-offs or punts. Field goal kicker Kip Smith missed a 41-yard attempt badly, but made a 30-yarder.

Spring Game Stats

Spring Game Drive Summary


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