Sunday, August 17, 2008
UCLA musings: Punt Bruins, punt
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
LOS ANGELES -- Some more thoughts from UCLA's Saturday evening scrimmage.
Know just about every reporter on hand beat up on the offense, and it was hard not to. But here are two critical things: 1. The defense is good. 2. Punter Aaron Perez owns a big foot (see the monstrous 58-yard boot he launched into the stratosphere on his first punt).
That's a great combination to have because it means a team can focus on the field position game and not take stupid chances on offense.
And if the defense can force a few extra turnovers while winning the field position battle of attrition that can mean short fields for the offense -- and probably a lot of 40-plus-yard field goal attempts from kicker Kai Forbath.
I remember watching Washington State punter Kyle Basler earn Holiday Bowl MVP honors in the Cougars 28-20 win over Texas. Basler killed five of his seven punts inside the Texas 15, including four inside the 5. The Cougs wouldn't have won without him.
The point: A good defense and good punter can keep a team with an anemic offense in a lot of games.
- Speaking of Forbath .... he had a forgettable day. His 53-yard field goal attempt fell short and left, and he had another attempt blocked. My guess is that was a blip, considering Forbath was lights out last season.
- If both stay healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if the first-team All-Pac-10 DTs are Brian Price and Brigham Harwell. Neither recorded any of the Bruins eight sacks, but Price was putting a world of hurt on whichever poor soul was trying to block him. And my best guess at the up the middle rushing yards with both in the scrimmage was ... zero.
- While he saw bonus action because of a banged up receiving corps, freshman receiver Nelson Rosario -- all 6-foot-4 of him -- looked like a guy who could help this season (three receptions, 40 yards).
- Washington fans might be interesting to know that former Huskies LB Derrell Daniels is working operations for UCLA with Neuheisel and wants to get into college coaching. Daniels, the Huskies starting inside LB during the 2000 season (Rose Bowl), said that a crew of Southern California Huskies went out to dinner with Neuheisel (the legendary El Cholo in Santa Monica), including Hakim Akbar, Matt Rogers, Pat Reddick, Chris Massey, Ken Walker and others.
- Finally, UCLA fans on the brink of an emotional breakdown over the Bruins offense should keep in mind that preseason scrimmages aren't terribly revealing. Walking through downtown Westwood last night looking for a late dinner, I tried to remember the last time I saw a team look great in a scrimmage. Couldn't remember one. The play-selection is watered down and the vanilla schemes typically favor a defense. Moreover, offensive coordinator Norm Chow seemed most bothered afterwards by logistical issues with his offense -- coordination with the coaching staff and players, etc. -- than the actual performance.