During a particularly uncrisp portion of practice, a bright light shone through the clouds.
Atoning for a fumble earlier in the day in individual drills, tailback Derrick Coleman took a handoff and sprinted past everyone into daylight, leaving five defenders in his wake.
On a day without many highlight-reel plays, this one stood out.
Milton Knox also had a nifty run, as it appeared Christian Ramirez was still given a little time off to rest his hamstring.
While watching UCLA running backs go through a ball-protection drill – Moses attempted to punch the ball from their hands and the backs had to run then through a shoot – I noticed how many of the bigger tailbacks and fullbacks had to work harder just to maintain a lower center of gravity.
Made me think of big Christian Ramirez, all 6-foot-2, 220 pounds of him, and whether his size might be a detriment.
A quick glance at UCLA’s top-5 career rushers made me wonder if Ramirez is a bit too big:
Gaston Green – 5-10, 189
Freeman McNeil – 5-11 216
Karim Abdul Jabbar – 5-10 194
Wendell Tyler – 5-10, 198
Skip Hicks – 6-0, 230
But No. 6 is Theotis Brown.
6-foot-2, 225-pound Theotis Brown…
Christian Ramirez – are you calling him C-Ram yet? Do you want to start? – said during Media Day on Monday that he expected to be used in a variety of ways this season.
Then he went out during practice and caught passes left and right, working out of backfield on screens, flashing out as a safety blanket, even chipping blitzers and then popping out as an extra option.
Norm Chow echoed C-Ram’s comments, mentioning how good his hands are.
Read about it here, if you’d like:
Rick Neuheisel, on the offensive line inefficiencies from last season:
“They just were inexperienced and they weren’t physical enough. Given the great work in the offseason to increase our strength numbers and given some competition created by the arrival of newcomers, I think we’re gonna have a chance to be a better front. And we need to be if we’re going to be better on offense.”
Norm Chow, on Christian Ramirez’ chance to be a dual-threat back:
“He’s a good pass catcher, so we have to make sure where we get some matchups where we can magnify his skills. We’ve known all along. He practiced all year long with us and you could just tell he was a good pass catcher. And a coach has the responsibility to try and magnify the skills of the players we have.”
Ramirez spoke yesterday about his offseason program, and getting up to 220 pounds while trying not to lose his speed. He certainly expects to carry the ball a lot this season, but he also has his creative juices flowing. Well, actually, he’s counting on Norm Chow to have his creative juices flowing.
And they were on Monday, as Ramirez caught passes out of the backfield and seemed eager to just be a factor on offense.
On being a workhorse back for UCLA:
“Being an athlete, period, you always want to have the ball in your hands,” Ramirez said. “You want to be the playmaker. That’s up to coach Chow. If he needs me to carry the ball so many times, I will. I’ll do whatever. It’s just fun to know that I’m going to be used in many different ways.”
I’m heading to practice around 2 p.m. so I can try to pick up on anything out there. Things will really pick up around 5 this afternoon if you want to check back then.
Over the next hour or so, I’ll post some extra quotes from yesterday by UCLA’s top mouthpieces: Rick Neuheisel, Kevin Prince and Christian Ramirez.
Thanks for reading, folks.
Also, just checking before I do this, but would anyone enjoy some good YouTube clips of all things Blue and Gold?
On the new faces in the offense:
“They’re new to you guys, but they’ve all been here,” Paulsen said. “We’ve been working out with those guys. Christian (Ramirez) was on the team last year. Kevin Prince has been here. It’s a little different, but everyone is sort of just filling in where they’re supposed to fill in.”
On where the team stands after one practice session:
“Right now, we’ve got the puzzle on the table, and we’re kind of putting it together,” Paulsen said. “We kind of see where everything is going, but we’re not 100 percent sure yet. That’s what camp is for, to solidify that puzzle and make sure it holds true during the season.”
On his offseason:
“I’m up to 220 now, the heaviest I’ve ever been; it’s all muscle,” Ramirez said laughing. “I still kept my speed, though, which is what (UCLA head athletic performance coach Mike Linn) was preaching to me. We needed to get me bigger, faster and stronger but keep that speed.”
On what hurt the offense the most last season:
“Turn…overs – that’s all I have to say,” Ramirez said. “We had 20 interceptions, and that hurt. If we start off just taking care of the ball, everything should fall into place. We have a lot of talent on this team, we’ve gained experience, and we learned a difficult lesson – if you don’t have the ball, you can’t win.”
On Neuheisel and his change from year one to year two:
“He’s still there,” Ramirez said. “Coach Neuheisel is still in there. He’s a very optimistic guy, and unfortunately we weren’t able to pull through his expectations. We haven’t lowered them. We still want to be a championship team. That’s what we fought for this whole summer. We don’t expect anything less than he’s told you guys.”