Hey Bruins fans this is Vinny Bonsignore I was out at UCLA practice today. Lot of good things going on out here, you can definitely sense a new level of excitement and a new level of focus under the new staff.
Crazy to think some of these kids are learning their fourth new offense and defense, but that is the reality this spring.
It’s probably a good thing most of these guys are used to the process of absorbing new systems, but you have to think they are ready to just settle in on a definite plan on both sides of the ball rather than continually changing things.
Nothing new on the quarterback battle, with Coach Jim L. Mora basically saying everyone is advancing, everyone is improving and everyone is beginning to settle in. And that includes T.J. Fafaul, T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel, the three newcomers who seem to be keeping pace thus far.
That said, it’s pretty obvious Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Brett Hundley are the primary players in this battle.
Brehaut told me today he loves the new offense being installed, which for him is actually an old offense as he ran it in high school. He says it is an offense that best suits his skill set and he is excited to be going back to a system he is comfortable with.
Also, Mora had some really good things to say about freshman cornerback Marcus Rios, who had a great practice today.
Here are some notes from today:
No doubt the Bruins are making wholesale changes going from Rick Neuheisel to Mora Jr. And if you count back a few years they are essentially installing their fourth new offense and defense over the last five seasons.
“You get used to it, just learning on the fly,” Brehaut said.
Now imagine being Mora Jr., who has essentially only known the NFL during his 20-plus-year career and professional football’s 24/7 devotion to the game.
It’s a whole new ballgame in college, where rules and school commitments limit the time he can spend with his players and slow down the pace in which he can install his offenses and defense.
It’s an adjustment Mora is working through.
“There’s a learning curve in this whole thing for me as well kids,” Mora admits. “The level I came from, there was no school no study table no tutoring.”
Here, with the understanding that school comes first Mora understand less is sometimes more when it comes to the volume of information he throws at his players.
And five practices into his first spring he is trying to pace himself.
“You have to measure yourself and be judicious in what you install and when you install it,” Mora said. “As coaches we all kind of want to be the next guru, the smartest guy to come up with the latest and greatest. But sometimes you do your players a real disservice if you do that. You’ve got to pace it.”
By all rights true freshman cornerback Marcus Rios should be in high school preparing for graduation.
Instead, as an early enrollee his is going through his first spring as a Division-1 college player.
But five practices in, he is already making a move.
“I thought today was by far his best day,” Mora said. “He flashed, he made some plays….today he made a breakthrough and I hope he feels good about it because he deserves it.”
And it’s a far cry from where Rios was just a few days ago when Mora described his as a deer in the headlights,
“But if you can imagine he should be preparing for his senior prom,” Mora said. “And I think the last two or three days he’s made an adjustment.”
Darius bell (WR/quad) Cassius Marsh (DE/ slight ankle) Johnathan Franklin (RB/bruised knee) and Jerry Rice (WR/collarbone) were all held out of practice.