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An Afternoon in Westwood

Because I find it tiresome when people attempt to talk about a subject without seeing it up close and forming an (occasionally) informed opinion, I decided to brave the 77 degree (!) heat and the immortal 405 freeway and make my way to beautiful Westwood, CA to catch UCLA as they opened fall practice Monday afternoon.

I expected energy, urgency, fire, and unreasonable parking prices. What I got was a reprimanding tweet from the UCLA athletic department about my tweeting re: warm-up music … and unreasonable parking prices. Here is my story:

On my way to UCLA on the 405 freeway (South). At first glance, it appears to be any other freeway in a major city. Don’t be fooled — it has been, is, and will always represent all that is evil in Los Angeles.

Nine dollars to park on UCLA‘s campus from 3:30-5:00 PM. If the Bruins are even average this year, you’ll be able to get into the Rose Bowl for less in November. I’m the sucker in this equation.

At first glance, the Bruins are as talented a 3-on-3 (no pad) pistol football team as anyone in the country. Guaranteed.

On every campus, a football coach exists that, at one point, noticed that Stone Cold Steve Austin existed, and felt thusly inspired. This is the Westwood incarnate.

Say what you will (and I will) about UCLA‘s football team, but their hydration staff (left side) is second to none — quick reactions with shoulder straps and cases of water –all while wearing professionally pressed khakis in 77 degree weather (with a breeze!). I hope the scholarship office is taking notice.

No need to adjust your display settings, Big Joseph Fauria (TE #8) is 8’2″ tall. In a perfect world (with a decent, healthy QB), he’d be unguardable in the seam. We do not live in that world.

You can knock UCLA‘s staff all you want, but as brief joggers, they’re as fundamentally sound as any group of middle-aged coaches in America. Period.

The UCLA defensive line simulated snaps against trash cans. After some brief struggles, they DOMINATED the slow-moving barrels. Salty.

The cans needed a much needed break after some intense drilling. Read that back, if that’s not the best (originally unintentional) “That’s What She Said,” well, I’ll try for a better one next time.

The media was ABSOLUTELY ABUZZ mid-practice. Also, I meant to write CASUALLY LEAVING THEIR EQUIPMENT POINTING AT NOTHING instead of ABSOLUTELY ABUZZ.

I noticed a lot of terrific backpedaling. When you hear an announcer compliment the Bruins‘ ability to backpedal this fall, you’ll know where you heard it first.

The eye in the sky. You can’t imagine how much *golden* backpedaling footage he got.

The QBs huddle and discuss what I assume are the latest in orthopedic surgery trends.

It’s not often you get to see somebody stretching their quad in the foreground and (I’m assuming) a Sim City-esque power plant in the background. (There’s no way I’m right about this)

The camera was put on shed duty. My goodness, if anything exciting happened with UCLA Football and that shed, KABC was getting a gangbusters exclusive.

Rick Neuheisel is in the yellow hat. I’ll paraphrase when I tell you that he was displeased with underthrown, dropped balls in QB drills.

My oddly obese shadow makes a 2011 win prediction for the Bruins. Harsh.

The fan energy on the field was downright electric.

He warmed up with the third string OL. Showed flashes.

When you combined the weather, the polite fan reactions, and the quiet nature of the players themselves, it wasn’t unlike watching a college football practice in The Hamptons. Even I was surprised to see the players snacking on delicate crustinis during water breaks.

Enough was enough, time to wander around the constant UCLA construction and get back to my car before being charged $47 for getting back too late. This was behind the in-renovation Pauley Pavillion.

WAIT! I got my loud, passionate sports fix after all! Thanks, nearby UCLA rec rugby game!

Aaaand a ten minute wait on Wilshire just for the right to sit on the 405 once again. CBS’s Bryan Fischer probably reacted to this best.

Go fight win. See you again soon.

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