Monday, December 1, 2008

Ten Reasons

Ed Note: OK, so I've been gone for a long time... a very long time. But I'm back for rivalry week.

Rivalry week is full of a lot of traditions. Victory Bells, bonfires, and parades. My own personal rivalry week tradition is to give 10 reasons why UCLA could beat USC. Here is the 2008 edition:

1. Buckets of Passion

When Rick Neuheisel was hired, he brought a new energy and enthusiasm to this program. Sure, the results haven't been that great, but that says more about the talent and depth of the personell than it does about their desire to win. This team hasn't quit all season and that will be an important element in a close game.

2. Chow Time

How can you lose when you have an offensive genius on your side? The Bruins have probably the best OC in the conference right now and you know Norm will have some special things up special for this game against his old head coach. A trick play, a lot of misdirection and a new look or two or three.

3. DeWayne knows Defense

In the last two seasons, coach Walker has had good success against USC. We all remember his brilliant 13-9 victory in 2006 where his defense held the Trojans to a single touchdown. But what many forget is the 24 point effort last season was pretty good considering how impotent our offense was in that game. If the offense can just hold their own then the defense can play well.. especially against a struggling Trojan passing attack.

4. The Rose Bowl?

Life's hard when you're a Trojan fan. Another Rose Bowl? Yawn. They don't care... they're not motivated. They are so spoiled that anything less than a NC game is a let down. Their fans, and players, and coaches are assuming a USC victory this week and they are already discussing how boring it will be to play in another Rose Bowl. Lack of focus = defeat.

5. The Rose Bowl!

UCLA is tough at home. Seriously. If the Bruins are going to win a big game it is going to be in Pasadena. The home field advantage is huge for us.

6. Which Craft

Kevin Craft is a good quarterback... except when he is an awful quarterback. If the good Kevin Craft can come back for a week then UCLA's offense can move the ball. If the bad Kevin Craft rears his ugly head again this week then USC will clown stomp the Bruins. Craft needs to channel all of the good advice and teaching he has received over his entire life.. and turn in the greatest performance of his career.

7. Even Steven

It is 2008. In even numbered years, UCLA does well. 'Nuff said.

8. The Monopoly is Over

Was UCLA's early season advertising campaign premature and ridiculous? Yes. Was it gutsy? Yeah, you know, it was. As much as people laugh about it now, that attitude of staring down the giant 600 lb gorilla in the room is what you need if you ever want to compete. Being affraid doesn't win games. Oh.. and for those that think that USC will gain some extra motivation because of this "smack talk"? They should note Harbaugh's comments about Carroll in 2007... and the corresponding result.

9. Punting is Winning

Punt baby punt. Seriously. Aaron Perez is a very good punter. UCLA punting the ball is a lot closer to a win than watching a Trojan defender run back an interception or fumble for an easy 6 points. UCLA needs to hang onto the ball and if that means punting away the ball and putting the game into the hands of DeWayne Walker's defense... then so be it. We stand a much better chance of winning with our defense on the field than our offense.

10. San Diego isn't that Far Away

Pasadeana... San Diego... what's the difference if you're a Trojan fan? They're all up and down Orange County anyways. I think our Ketchup and Mustard friends would actually prefer a trip to the Holiday Bowl this year, just for a change of pace.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Time for Change?

Should Kevin Craft get the hook next week? Will Chris Forcier be any better? After a dismal performance tonight against the Bears, including 4 picks and 12 points for the Cal defense, it is hard to imagine Forcier being any worse. Giving C-Force a few more snaps might not be such a bad idea.

I've been a Craft supporter this season. He's been madeningly inconsistant, but at times he puts together some amazing drives. But I think his luck (and my patience) are starting to run out. That's right... luck. He was lucky that he didn't have 4 picks and a blow-out loss against Oregon. Even against Stanford it was feast or famine for Kevin. His tendency to throw interceptions is really hurting this team and this week was another example of that.

I think getting Forcier into the mix is a good idea. He might not be the best QB... he might even be worse than Craft. But we're losing games with Kevin behind center. Trying to dig out of early deficiets and putting our defense in bad field position is killing this team. If Forcier can at least manage the game and use his feet to keep drives alive... then that would be a big improvement. I say we give Chris a few extra snaps during the bye week and get him ready to play against the Beavers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 7

1. USC. Sanchez and the offense struggled in the second half against ASU. He doesn't look like he is 100% since getting injured against Oregon. The defense is scary good, however. This team isn't unbeatable and I think they could lose one more before the season is over. Maybe in two weeks against Arizona? Up next, a freebe against WSU.

2. Oregon State. The Beavers were the latest squad to put up 60+ points on the Cougs. The offense looks really good and Moevao, Rodgers and Stroughter are a tripple threat. This team is clicking right now and their momentum should continue in Seattle next week.

3. Arizona. Well, the Sun Devils proved once again that they're a Mike Stoops coached team. With everything going well for them this season they lose one to the Cardinal. I think Stanford is a pretty good team this year, so I can't drop Arizona too far. But two fourth quarter drives that end in field goals deep in enemy territory isn't going to get it done. Neither is giving up a long drive on the ground to a 3rd string QB. They host the Bears next week in a game that should help shake out the middle of the conference.

4. Oregon. Not a particularly impressive win against the Bruins... a team that the Ducks should have put away early. Their passing game is not very good with Masoli at the helm. This team runs the risk of being completely one dimensional as quick, athletic defenses can sell out on the run. A bye week should help with all the injuries and maybe get Roper back in the saddle.

5. California. The Bear hibernated this past week, but they're back in action against the Wild Cats. If they can win that game in the Arizona desert then I'll become a believer. Until then, I'm not drinking the Kal-aid.

6. Stanford. Nice win over Arizona. Harbaugh has this team focused each week and playing very solid football. Pritchard going down in the game is problematic for this team. Jason Forcier looked horrible. Loukas is untested but his scrambling ability was the difference yesterday. We'll see what they can do on the road against the Bruins... and if they can get healthy in time. The ground game is very potent and the defense ain't half bad.

7. UCLA. Somethings looked good against the Ducks (Offense second half) and others looked very poor (missed tackles and offense in the first half). The Bruins might be maxing out on potential at this point but if they can find consistancy they could win a few along the way.

8. Arizona State. Carpenter is a warrior... a warrior who has been beaten to a pulp behind a suspect offensive line. This team is on a four game skid and that has to be messing with their confidence. A tough pair of contests against the Oregon schools won't make getting a win any easier. The defense has been solid and 3 picks against USC helped save a rout.

9. Washington. They move up simply by not playing. Can they take the rest of the season off? No? Well, at least they have a new coach... no? They still have Willingham? Why?!? The Beavers are coming to town next. Should be an 0-6 start. Weeeee.

10. Washington State. The defense has given up an average of 55 points per conference game. Now their looking to start the 4th string quarterback against the Trojans. That average could start heading north of 60. Would Wulff's pld 1-AA Eastern Washington squad beat his new Cougars? Me thinks the answer is yes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I think the final score was a bit misleading. UCLA could have and should have tallied up about 5-6 more interceptions in that game. Craft definitely took a step back tonight after putting up two solid efforts against WSU and FSU.

Overall though, I was pretty happy with the defensive play. Two big plays at the end of each half were back breakers. But for 58 minutes in the middle they played fairly well. Good enough for this team to get a win, that's for sure. The big knock was the poor tackling.

The onside kick call was gutsy and, I have to admit, not a good one. A big risk on a play that has a very small chance to succeed. With the momentum going UCLA's way and the defense playing tough, why take that risk? Not a good call, not at all. Neuheisel messed up on that one.

At the end of the day it was too many bad decisions and too many untimely penalties. That offense needs to figure things out. The inconsistency is killing us.

Let's just hope Austin is OK and gets back to the team very soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Which Craft

The improvement of Kevin Craft is undeniable. In the first three games he was pretty bad, behind a bad offensive line. But as the line improved, Craft's numbers have gone from bad to pretty darn good. Here is his NCAA calculated QB ratings:

Tenneesee: 97.8
BYU: 103.4
Arizona: 70.3
Fresno: 134.5
WSU: 134.7

So the question is which Craft will show up in Eugene? Will it be the Kevin Craft from the begining of the season who threw 5 interceptions or the Kevin Craft who has thrown 4 straight touchdowns in two games. The Bruins are going to need another great performance this Saturday and continued improvement from Craft as the season progresses.

PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 6

1. USC. The Trojans looked like a top-10 team this last week. They absolutely demolished the Ducks and Sanchez was having a field day with their secondary. The only question is will the Trojans loose their focus again? They might in a few weeks when they head to Tuscon.

2. Arizona. They haven't played anyone of note yet, and this week is no exception when they drive up to the Farm. But the Wildcats keep winning and keep putting up big numbers on offense and on defense. They also play some of the better teams in the conference at home. Sure they had that embarrassing loss to New Mexico State. But who in the conference doesn't have an embarrassing loss?

3. Oregon State. The Beavers were 90 seconds away from upsetting another undefeated top-25 team this last week. Mountain West be damned... Uath is a tough opponent and very difficult to beat in Salt Lake City. The OSU offense looked good, but the defense needs to play much stouter.

4. Oregon. Losing to the Trojans on the road is nothing to be ashamed off. But giving up 41 consecutive points and almost 450 passing yards is embarrassing; especially considering that the defense was supposed to be a strength this year. They should rebound this week against the Bruins.

5. California. Beat the Sun Devils, but struggled to move the ball at times in the second half. I'm still not convinced that this team is as good as their record. Having two capable QBs is one big positive for them however. Longshore looked steady at the helm. They have a week off to prepare for Arizona.

6. Stanford. Almost came back against the Irish last week in south bend. They're still a scrappy team that can knock off almost anyone in the conference on any given day. QB play is still inconsistent and the defense got burned by Clausen more than a few times.

7. Arizona State. I thought the Sun Devils would have bounced back this week, but too many mistakes on offense hurt them. The offensive line has to buy Carpenter more time and he has to make better decisions when throwing. They won't catch any breaks at the Coliseum this week... especially with Rudy hurt and likely out for the game.

8. UCLA. A good looking win against Washington State... but let's face it, the Cougs are the free square on the PAC-10 bingo board. Have a lot to prove before they can move up a few slots. A huge test against Oregon awaits.

9. Washington State. Stemmed the bleeding a bit against the Bruins... only losing by 25 points instead of 50+. Stacking against the run helped improve the effectiveness of the defense on the ground. Unfortunately, the secondary was just as bad.

10. Washington. The Locker-less Huskies absolutely ate it on the road against the Wildcats last week. Which team in Washington will win it's first game against a D1-A opponent... the Huskies or the Cougs? It might be the winner of this year's Crapple Cup.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Contributing Early

Before the season began, I put together a blog entry on how the current freshman (both red-shirts and true) would be major contributers this season. Here are some of the details, pulled from the NCAA statistics website, on how the young guys are contributing so far.

Derrick Coleman leads the team in rushing with 110 yards on 17 carries. An interesting fact is that Coleman has no carries for loss. His straight ahead, power running style is one of the reasons he's been seeing a lot of minutes. Raymond Carter has 21 yards on 17 carries and 1 TD. Aundre Dean had one carry before tweaking his ankle, but he should get back into the lineup soon.

Taylor Embree is the 3rd leading receiver on the team with 10 catches for 131 yards. Tight End Corey Harkey as 3 grabs for 27 yards. He's looked good on some of those passing route and he is definately an athletic kid. Nelson Rosario and Derrick Coleman have also had receptions.

When you tally that up for the first four games, freshman have accounted for 305 yards of offense and 1 TD.

On defense Akeem Ayers is one of four Bruin players with a sack and he has also added 12 tackles to the mix. Rahim Moore leads the freshman with 18 tackles and he had that interception against BYU. Courtney Vinney has 14 tackles, Glenn Love has 8, Sean Westgate has 7 tackles including 1 for loss, Steve Sloan has contributed 5 tackles and Anthony Dye pitched in 2 more. The defense has seen a lot of new faces and the freshman are getting bigger chunks of playing time as the season progresses.

The totals for defense are 66 tackles, 2 for loss (1 sack) and an interception.

We all know how Dorrell didn't like playing freshman. So I thought it would be interesting to compare these numbers to the numbers that freshman put up in past seasons. Just so we're comparing apples to apples, the 2008 numbers above are for 4 games while these other numbers are season totals. So I'm going to project out the 2008 numbers (multiply by 3 to match a 12 game season) to get a best-guess estimate


2008: 915 yards, 3 TD

2007: 261 yards, 55 attempts, 23 completions, 5 interceptions, 1 TD *

2006: 135 yards, 5 TD

2005: 616 yards, 4 attemps, 2 completions, 0 interceptions, 4 TD


2008: 198 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sack, 3 intereption, 0 fumble recovered

2007: 17 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 0 interceptions, 0 fumble recovered

2006: 109 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovered

2005: 64 tackle, 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks

* 2007 offensive numbers include McLeod Bethel-Thompons at quarterback.

It looks like Freshman are playing a much larger role in 2008 then they have in past seasons. Especially on defense, which might explain some of our struggles as of late. If you look at the number of tackles, the freshman are contributing around 21% of the total this season. In 2007 only 3% of the tackles were contributed by freshman, 13% in 2006, 9% in 2005.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PAC-10 Power Rankings: Week 5

I thought it would be fun each week to put together a "power ranking" of how well each team in the conference is playing right now. Instead of looking at each teams overall record, I'll simply consider how they look today and their prospects for the future. Kicking it off with week this first addition:

1. USC. The Trojans have way too much talent to be ranked any lower at this point. They showed their immaturity last week by buckling under pressure. Carroll should have them refocused and ready for the Ducks.

2. OSU. Jacquizz and his Beavers passed the test last week. This from a team that usually plays their best football later in the season. They might be vulnerable to a let down game against Utah this week.

3. Oregon. Fourth string, fifth string... what quarterback are they on? Didn't matter last week as the "system" can sure put up a lot of points. Depth is still a concern for the long haul. Game in Coliseum this Saturday should be brutal.

4. Arizona. They haven't really been tested but the numbers don't lie. Good offense and good defense... at least for now. Has Stoops finally put together a complete team? We may not know for a couple more weeks as the Wildcats host the winless Huskies this Saturday.

5. Arizona State. Don't sleep on these guys. They still have one of the best quarterback in the conference and a lot talent around him. The loss to Georgia didn't look any better after the Bulldogs got whipped by Alabama. They return to action this week against the Bears.

6. California. Despite the record, this team hasn't looked very impressive in their wins. Statistically they didn't play much better than Colorado State, but big special teams play and a pick-6 was the difference. Losing their best running back in Jahvid Best for two weeks with a dislocated elbow is a concern.

7. Stanford. Not a lot of talent. Not a lot of depth. But the Cardinal put in workman like performances each and every week. They also seem to be playing teams at the right time (see Oregon State week 1). Quarterback play is a weak spot.

8. UCLA. The offense takes two steps forward while the defense takes a step back. Giving up 30+ points each week isn't going to win many games. They have a chance at their first conference win this week when the Cougs come to Pasadena.

9. Washington. Jake Locker has accounted for 70% of the Huskie offense this season. He is also out for up to 8 weeks with a broken thumb. They weren't winning any games with him in the lineup but the chances of them winning games with him out of the lineup doesn't look very good. Willingham fired in T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

10. Washington State. The good news is the Cougs won a game two weeks ago. The bad news is they lost their first and second string quarterbacks for the season. Ouch. Giving up 60+ points to conference opponents is bad. Giving up 60+ points to conference opponents at home is deplorable. Maybe a road trip will change the results? Don't count on it.

Under New Ownership

The cougars are our kryptonite. It doesn't seem to matter what their record is or how poorly they are playing, they manage to beat us year in and year out. In fact, they have won six of the last seven meetings. The sole win was that overtime, miracle comeback in 2005. Otherwise, we've been their bitches. Its been so bad, that last years their fans chanted: "We own you! we own you!" as our team left the field.

I hope we kill them on Saturday. And exercise some demons like we did against Tenneesee. We're 19 point favorites... which scares the crap out of me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Slowly But Surely

You know, I walked away from that game today feeling better about this team. Today was progress. Not in all areas... *cough* defense *cough*... but the offense looked markedly improved. Special teams was feast (Terrance Austin setting a school record on kick off returns) or famine (Punt returned for a touchdown). All in all, it was a step in the right direction.

Let's start with the good news. Welcome back Kalil Bell! The combination of Coleman and Bell seems to be working for UCLA. The duo racked up 159 yards on the ground. As a team, the Bruins rushed for 234 yards. That's more than the first three game combined! In fact, the run game has steadily improved each week since BYU, where UCLA managed a pathetic 9 total yards on the ground. Now, to put that in some perspective, Fresno State has one of the worst run defenses in the country. They ranked 95th coming into this weekend. Arizona wasn't a bunch of world beaters either with the 49th ranked run defense, but UCLA did manage 115 yards against them as well. Let's hope this trend continues.

It seems like the offense line is really starting to gel. They might not be able to take on some of the better teams in the conference, but they seem to be finding some consistency. I really liked the combination out there today. Dean, Savage, Baca, Ekbatani, and Reed. It looks like Micah Reed might miss some more time after hurting his other knee today. That's a bummer but they did OK in his absence. They even gave Craft some more time to throw. A good effort.

The bad news was the defense. You have to give credit to Fresno State. They have a very prolific offense and a very, very efficent quarterback in Bradstater. He is accurate and cool in the pocket. You expect that from a seasoned senior. But our secondary is not very good. Norris and Viney were particularly poor in coverage today. It doesn't help that we get very little pass rush. We have to get some pressure from the linebackers and defensive ends because we're getting picked apart in the passing game. Brian Price was the lone bright spot. I almost had a heart attack when he went down with an injury. Glad to see he was OK and came back for a huge game.

On the coaching decisions... I thought they were fine. Some will hang Neuhiesel for accepting the holding penalty deep in UCLA terrirorty, but I don't. When I watched it live, my first thought was to decline; but I see why he choose to accept it. It did put Fresno State in a longer field goal position. They're kicker was not very good and Rick was gambling that his defense would come up with a big stop. Likewise, on the 4th down when we had the ball... he took a chance on our offense.

Both were gutsy moves. Both showed confidence in his players. Both failed. People will bitch about the decision but what they're really complaining about is the outcome. Everyone hated it when Dorrell played it safe. Now people are complaining that Neuheisel is taking too many risks. Shit. We need to role the dice with this team, because we don't have the consistent play makers to win these types of games every week. You have to take the risk to get the reward. It just didn't work out in our favor this week.

Anyways, I look forward to the game against Washing State. Hopefully the progress continues and we get a tick in the win column. That sure would feel good... for both the players and the fans.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Condoms Broken by Beaver

Upset? Yes. Shocking? Not really. A heavily favored USC losing to an also-ran PAC-10 opponent (of two) has become an annual event. Its strange how the Trojans completely intimidate out of conference opponents. Their hype and image preceeds them and those schools psyche themselves out before even taking the field. But the PAC-10 isn't feeling intimidated... and The Beavers weren't feeling the love for the Trojans either.

Things look bleak for USC to make it to the National Championship game. With the entire conference looking like poop, the Trojans will have a very low strength of schedule. Loosing to a then 1-2 Beaver squad will drop them significantly in the polls. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving program.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did you know?

There are more teams from the Mountain West ranked in the top-25 then from the PAC-10. Ugh. With Oregon taking a dive against Boise State (granted, they did lose another QB during the game) there are more teams from the WAC ranked in the AP poll as well. Double Ugh. With Fresno State taking us on this week, I don't know if that will change significantly come next Monday. Tripple Ugh.

No Joy in Mudsville

Another week... another collapse. At least this time we didn't get completely embarrased. We only embarrased ourselves a little. Is that progress? I suppose. It is kind of scarry to see this team get absolultely dominated by opponents. There are so many mistakes, poor tackles, bad blocks, and mental errors that its hard to know where to begin when discussing this game. I knew it was going to be a tough, long season but this is really bad.

UCLA hasn't had this bad of a start to a season in 15 years. You have to go all the way back to 1983 to find a Bruin squad that got off to a worse start than 1-2. That 1983 team (coincidently quarterbacked by Rick Neuhiesel) wobbled out the gate with a 0-2-1 start. What's really worisome is that our 1-2 start is one of the worst in terms of point differential.

Point Differential of recent UCLA teams that started off the season with two or more losses:
2008 : 37 - 104 = -67
1983: 44 - 89 = -45
2003 : 44 - 78 = -34
1996: 73 - 73 = 0
1997: 124 - 70 = 54

At least we got something going in the run game. Moline and Coleman finally dragged us from the cellar as the worst rushing offense in college football (thank you SDSU and SMU for running less than us). Sadly, our total offense ranks an abysmal 117th in the nation. Total defense is right up there in the high 90's as well. Of course, if our defense could actually get off the field for more than 3 downs, that would be helpful as well.

What was particularly depressing about this lose was the terrible special teams play in the second half. Arizona had four drives in the fourth quarter. Three of them started off in UCLA territory. Our punt coverage was not good and kick-offs were not much better. I'm not sure what Ganz needs to work on with these guys but something is way off. Either Perez is out punting his coverage, our guys aren't following their lanes, the tackling is bad... or all of the above. In any case, we were giving up huge amounts of field position each time we kicked the football. Punting definately wasn't winning this last week.

Penalties are on the rise as well. The first game against Tenneesee saw only two penalties. The second week, at BYU, we raised that number to four. Against the Widcats, we had six. The total yards on those penalties isn't huge (around 30 yards / game) but its not good to see that number going up each week. You kind expect that with so many young guys in games, so hopefully that decreases as they gain experience.

Losing stinks... plain and simple. What stinks more is when you get trashed about during the game. The BYU debacle was about as bad as it gets. Against Arizona, things were better for three quarters, but got out of control at the end. This team needs a lot of work to improve and that applies to almost every squad. I'm not expecting miracles, but I would love to see some improvement from week to week. It's not there yet. Not by a long shot.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Nine Dwarves

Wow, our conference just absolutely shat itself today.

BYU humiliates UCLA on the road.
UNLV beats ASU at home. #15 Arizona State... loses to UNLV... at home.
Cal gets beat by a hapless Maryland team.
Arizona loses to frickin' New Mexico.
Oklahoma crushes Washington.
Stanford goes oh-fer against TCU.

Oregon has to rally and needs overtime to squeek past a mediocre Purdue team.

Oregon State has some saving grace against a shell of a Hawii team.

... and then USC beats the CRAP out of a top-10 Ohio State team.

We deserve the reputation of being the Nine Dwarves.

The Mountain West Owns Us

... and by us I mean the PAC-10. UCLA loses to BYU. New Mexico beats Arizona. TCU beats Stanford. UNLV beats ASU.


The Wasatch Whoopin

What do you say after a game like that? I guess we all knew this was a possibility coming into this game. The whoopin' we took in Provo today was eerily similar to the one we took in Salt Lake City last year. I don't even know if there was any silver lining to this game. A blow out loss, injuries galore, and more mistakes than you could shake a stick at.

I'll admit that a part of me (a very optimistic part) thought that the new coaching staff and the Tennessee win meant that humiliating losses like this were a part of UCLA's past. I didn't think we had much of a chance to win this game, but to just get swept aside so quickly... and easily... was outside of my realm of expectations.

Too many mistakes. Way too many mistakes. This was something that could have happened last week if Tennessee had taken advantage of some of those turnovers as well. BYU took our 4 turnovers and turned them into 28 points. The coaching staff has to fix that ASAP. We're not going to win many games if we keep giving up the ball like that.

What hurts the most, though, was the injuries. Reed is out for next week. Carter is banged up but he'll be back. Dean, on his one and only carry, gets hurt. Kyle Bosworth might miss some time. How many more guys can we lose this season? It boggles the mind.

Even Forbath missed an easy one.

Well, I'm going to bed and pretending like this game never happened.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008 Preview: BYU

I don't have time for a full blown write-up this week, but thought I would put in my two cents for this game up in Provo.

I think our offensive line is in for a tough day against the BYU front seven. Tenneessee didn't hardly blitz during our game. It's a lot easier for 6 guys to block 4 guys than it is to pick up linebackers and defensive backs flying in from different angles. Even with that advantage, we had no running game against the Volunteers. I can see BYU trying to put a lot more pressure on Craft this game; I know I would.

Our run defense wasn't that good against a solid UT O-line and Foster carying the ball. BYU might not be as good, but their O-line is big and they're running back is a big dude as well. They could really wear down our defense over the course of four quarters. Max Hall, the Cougar quarterback, is a much, much better passer than Crompton. Our young secondary will get burned a few times. Heck, our senior-laden secondary got burned by him last season at the Rose Bowl.

With Bronco Mendenhall calling the shots, you know this team will be much better coached than Tenneesee. They're a tough, physical team and it will be a real test for UCLA. I think it will be a close game but home field advantage gives this one to the Cougs.

My prediction: UCLA 20, BYU 24.

Love On for the Jonas Brothers

Got to love this. During USC's weekly coaches conference call with the media a prankster got through. The guy said his name was Steve Marsh from College Blog. He asked Carroll: "Would you ever reward your players with sex with Britney Spears or the Jonas Brothers?"


Of course, the coaches response: "Boys will be boys".

OK, I made up that last part, but you got to love the moxy of some guy to bring that kind of smack. Love on!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Haves and the Have Nots

There is definitely a rift developing in the PAC-10 between the good programs and those that are going to take a drubbing this season. You can squarely put Oregon State and Washington State in that arse beating category. The Beavers lost by 31 in an inept performance against Penn State. That doosie was only to be topped by the Cougars who got buried by 63 points at the hands of the Bears.

Man. We better not lose to either one of these teams. That would really, really suck.

Block that Kick

Wow, BYU is making a living off of blocked kicks. Just like they did in the footnote bowl last year against UCLA, the Cougars blocked a kick against the Huskies and won in dramatic fashion. That is probably a good thing for us, as we get a ranked BYU team next week. It stinks for Washington though, as that game really should have gone into OT. Excessive celebration for throwing a ball over your shoulder? Lame-0.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Giving Credit

One thing I wanted to note. There has been a lot written about the game, but one guy who hasn't gotten any accolades is Michael Norris. In a night with a lot of crucial plays, Norris made some big ones but you may have not even noticed. From my excellent vantage point up in the noise bleed seats at the Rose Bowl... I took notice.

Michael Norris made at least two touchdown saving tackles on Monday. One was on a blown coverage by the outside linebacker (not sure who it was) but Norris was left out there with no help to contain Foster has he rolled out with the ball. He fought past the much larger wide receiver and managed to corral Foster out of bounds.

Another big tackle came on a kick off where the return man broke left as the entire mass of players when right. Except for Norris, who held his position and tracked down the ball carrier. Add to that six total tackles and a downed punt inside in the 10-yard line and Michael Norris had one heck of a night. For a guy who's taken his fair share of criticism over the years, it was good to see him have a solid night as a starter.

Last Monday night was full of stories like this one. Guys stepped up and took starting roles for the first time and they played as a team. They were outmatched at every position but, as a whole, this team played better because everyone did their part. Some of them didn't make the hight light reel. But their impact was definitely felt... and much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rick, Rick, Rick!

At the end of the game against Tenneesee, Rick Neuheisel got up and addressed the crowd. We were exhausted, excited, and still recovering from near heart failure. I was 100% convined, about a half dozen times, that we were going win that game only to have another half dozen moments where I was positive we would lose. Neuhiesel wrapped up one of the most eciting games I've ever witnessed with a great speach. Another cerished memory I'll keep for a very, very long time.

It is GREAT to be a Bruin!

Ranked ?!?!

Wow, we're ranked . The AP poll has us at #23 and we just missed on the coaches at #26. Amazing... and a bit crazy. There is no way we deserve that mark at this point in the season. I also like playing as the under dog in these games. Oh well.

Starting off the Season Right

What a great day at the Arroyo Seco. The sun was out, the fans were excited, and football was in the air. There is no better feeling than walking into the Rose Bowl for the start of another season.Like most of the Bruin faithful, I wasn't expecting much. I was just hoping we could keep it close.

The First Bruin Walk of the 2008 Season.

We rolled into lot H a few hours before the game. Just in time to catch the 2008 edition of the Bruins come walking down through the crowd. That's such an awesome tradition. A couple things of note. Ben Olson was walking along with the team, without any noticable limp. I was kind of shocked, actually, I thought he would have been hobled still. Another thing is that Pat Cowan is the man. He was way behind everyone else, limping heavily in his brace, but he still greated all the fans.

Pat Greats the Crowd

They kicked of the festivities with some sky divers descending into the Rose Bowl. That's something I had never seen before. It reminded me of that story from Saturday where the sky divers for the North Carolina game accidently landed at the Duke sadium. I was half expecting those guys to land at the Coliseum.

Look Out Below!

As the game progressed the Rose Bowl started filling up with blue shirts! Not the usual mismatch of greys, greens, blues, and every other color under the sun. No there was a noticable blue tint to the vast majority of the fans. Of course, there was a good sized Tennesse orange in the visitor section and springled around the bowl. But it was a very strong UCLA crowd last night that was loud and enthusiastic. It was very cool. Even the student section had decent turn out.

Sea of Blue. Trust Me. It was Blue.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Words



Its late and I just got back from the Rose Bowl, but I'll have a lost more thoughts and some video from the game. Couldn't have asked for a better start to the Neuheisel era. What a game. Hell Yes!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Zachary Zywakoski

I feel like we're in elementary school, our name is Zachary Zywakoski and the teacher is taking roll call... alphabetically. Dude, being the last team to play on the opening weekend sucks so bad. I've watched four days of college football and I'm STILL waiting to watch our Bruins. The anticipation is killing me! Can't wait for tomorrow.

Open. Open. Open. Open.

The Washington Lockers

I watched a couple of games on Saturday, but the one I looked forward to the most was Washington vs Oregon. Let me just say this, both teams (and Oregon played their 3rd string guy for most of the game) have pretty darn good quarterbacks. But Jake Locker is a stud. That dude can flat out play. I feel bad for him, though, being stuck on that team with that coaching staff. He might be competing for a national championship somewhere else, but at Washington he is running for his life every down.

Locker was basically the entire offense on Saturday. There were drives where he would gain almost every single yard, either running or throwing the ball. He had receivers dropping wide open passes. The freshman running back was getting something like 1.5 yards a carry. Add in a center who could barely get the ball back to him in the shotgun and the whole thing was a disaster. A complete and total disaster. I just hope Jake can make it through his college career intact because he could be a real player in the NFL.

After reading their fan's message boards, it reminded me of UCLA message boards this time last year. They are in complete melt down mode. That program needs to fire Tyrone Willingham ASAP. They've hit rock bottom at this point. Four years into Willingham's tenture and that team was absolutely attrocious. They were starting true freshman all over the place and they looked completely lost. There is no excuse for a coach to have that kind of situation in year four.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Cardinal Lick the Beaver

Wow. I thought Stanford would be better this year and Oregon State worse. But wow. Harbaugh and company survived a thrilla up on the Farm. I think it will be a very, very competitive year in the PAC-10.

Apparently Oregon State misses Yvenson Bernard. They were all pass on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Stanford was running the ball well behind Gerhart. I think our chances against both teams is improved now, especially if they stay fairly one dimensional of offense. Neither defense looked very good.

On a side note... thank god football season has started! Is is Monday yet?!?!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ten Years Too Late

In a little over a week, the UCLA Bruins will take on the Tennessee Volunteers in front of a nationally televised audience. In 1998, the Bruins were hoping for the same scenario. Back then, an undefeated UCLA squad had a clear shot at playing Tennessee in the first ever BCS championship game. Unfortunately, a hurricane and a phantom fumble call ended that date with destiny before it could even be penciled in. It's been a decade since these two teams were supposed to play each other, and it has been a bumpy ride for both schools, to say the least.

It was a sunny December morning at the Orange Bowl and the Bruins were in town to play a makeup game against the Miami Hurricanes. Earlier in the year, hurricane George caused the game to be canceled but UCLA opted to have the game replayed later in the season. Going into that weekend, there were three undefeated teams including UCLA, Tennessee, and Kansas State. If the Bruins could take care of business that day then they would have a legitimate claim to appear in the Fiesta Bowl and play for the national title. As fate would have it, the Wildcats would lose to an underdog Texas A&M team that Saturday, leaving the door open for a Tennessee and UCLA title showdown.

Of course, things wouldn't work out for the Bruins either. That team was all offense and no defense and the Hurricanes racked up a ridiculous 689 yards by the time it was over. Cade McNown and Brian Poli-Dixon feuled UCLA's top-rated offense to 43 points but a bogus fumble call in the fourth quarter, with UCLA rolling down the field for another score, would lead to the final Miami touchdown.

UCLA has practically vanished off the national stage since that fateful game against Miami ten years ago. After having a nation's best 20-game win streak, the Bruins haven't come close to matching their success from that season. No conference championships and more 6-6 recods than you can shake a stick at. UCLA hasn't been to a BCS bowl game in nine seasons and the rise of USC across town and the emergence of California and Arizona State as national players haven't helped the Bruins claw their way back either.

Things haven't been all the great for Tennessee as well. The Volunteers of the late 90's were a powerhouse program. They only lost five games from 1995 - 1998. Along the way they picked up some hardware including three bowl victories, two SEC championships, and that first ever BCS National Championship. It's been all downhill since then. They've won their division a few times, but no conference championship and not even a sniff at a national championship game. They even had a losing season in 2005.

The good news for both schools is that the future looks brighter than the past. The Bruins are on their second new coach since 1998, and Rick Neuhiesel has the charisma, passion, and coaching staff to return the Bruins to the top of the PAC-10. Tennessee, behind long time coach Phil Furmer, posted a 10-win mark last year and a return visit to the SEC championship game. Good things are expected in Knoxville this season and the Orange clad fans are eager to a return to their glory days as well.

Finally the Bruins and Volunteers will have their date with destiny. It comes ten years too late for the UCLA faithful, but maybe some football demons can be exorcised during this game. I think ten years in purgatory is payment enough for whatever offense we committed against the football gods so long ago. It may not be a victory for the Bruins, but it just might be the first step on the long road back up the mountain.

Other Fun Facts:
  • UCLA and Tennessee have played 13 times in their history. The Bruins are 4-7-2 against the Volunteers.
  • After San Diego State (21) and Pittsburgh (14,) UCLA has played Tennessee more times than any other active, non-conference foe.
  • The last time these two teams played, in 1997,Tennesse won. The Bruins then went on a 20 game winning streak.
  • The 11 year gap from the last time these two teams played is the longest break since the series began in 1965. Before then, the teams averaged a game every 3 years.
  • Tennessee has a lifetime 14-11-3 record against the PAC-10.
(photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tennessee Depth Chart

All right. The first depth chart of the season. It is still early and I'm sure the offensive line will be jumbled and reassembled a half dozen times before kick off on Sept 1st, but there are still some interesting surprises on here.

First up is Taylor Embree being named co-first string at split end. Embree has been drawing rave reviews since the spring. His sure hands and ability to make circus catches must have impressed the coaches as well. We'll see how much time he gets with the bigger and more experienced Johnson and Everett ahead of him. I'm sure the other freshman like Moutra (who was a favorite target of the QBs during the practice I watched) and Rosario will get some minutes as well.

On defense it looks like John Hale has won the starting Sam linebacker spot. Not a huge surpirse there but there was some chatter that Ayers could pass him up. Same holds true for Norris and Hester for that open corner position. Good to know that our freshman LBs and DBs are pushing the older guys for playing time.

I was a bit surprised to see Ray Carter's name on KOR. I probably should not have been, as many coaches like to use the backup TB in that role. I'm really looking forward to watching Carter this year. I think he can be a really special guy. On that same note, I was a bit disappointed that Aundre Dean didn't make his way further up the depth chart. I'm guessing that Moline being ahead of him is simply because he'll be used on short yardage situations. I believe that Dean can really make an impact for this team.

Otherwise the chart is basically unchanged. The O-line is in such a state of flux, there is no point in even commenting on it. I'm sure that lineup will be different by the kick-off and will likely change by half-time anyways. I have a feeling that Savage will play a lot of minutes along with Reed and Kia. The other spots are a mystery to me.


SE 19 Dominique Johnson (6-3, 207, So.**) (3) or
82 Taylor Embree (6-3, 186, Fr.)
83 Nelson Rosario (6-5, 207, Fr.) or
2 Ryan Graves (6-1, 171, Sr.**)

LT 73 Micah Kia (6-5, 297, Jr.) (8)
69 Brandon Bennett (6-4, 317, So.**)
78 Brett Downey (6-7, 256, Fr.)^

LG 75 Nick Ekbatani (6-5, 294, Jr.**)
77 Darius Savage (6-4, 350, So.**)
52 Jess Ward (6-4, 277, Jr.**) (6)

C 58 Micah Reed (6-3, 314, Sr.**) (8 at OG)
57 Jake Dean (6-4, 294, So.**)

RG 55 Sonny Tevaga (6-5, 339, So.**)
66 Scott Glicksberg (6-4, 290, Sr.**) (1 at TE)
76 Austin Hill (6-3, 285, Fr.)^

RT 68 Nate Chandler (6-5, 271, Fr.**)
65 Mike Harris (6-5, 304, Fr.**)

TE 86 Logan Paulsen (6-6, 257, Sr.) (13)
15 Ryan Moya (6-3, 234, Jr.**)
87 Cory Harkey (6-5, 247, Fr.)
89 Adam Heater (6-5, 265, Jr.**)
98 Jeff Miller (6-5, 251, So.**)

QB 3 Kevin Craft (6-4, 195, Jr.**)
8 Chris Forcier (6-3, 189, Fr.**)
11 Osaar Rasshan (6-4, 220, Jr.**) (3)
14 Kevin Prince (6-2, 212, Fr.) or
18 Nick Crissman (6-3, 205, Fr.)

FB 31 Trevor Theriot (6-0, 239, Jr.**) (6)
45 Tobi Umodu (5-11, 230, So.**)
39 Tyler Tuiasosopo (5-11, 218, Fr.)

TB 36 Kahlil Bell (6-0, 219, Sr.) (5)
20 Raymond Carter (6-0, 202, Fr.**)
42 Chane Moline (6-1, 232, Jr.) (1)
30 Aundre Dean (6-0, 207, Fr.)

FL 9 Marcus Everett (6-1, 201, Sr.**) (1)
4 Terrence Austin (5-11, 161, Jr.)
88 Antwon Moutra (6-2, 183, Fr.) or
85 Jerry Johnson (6-4, 205, Fr.)


LE 56 Tom Blake (6-4, 255, Sr.**) (8)
91 Reginald Stokes (6-3, 243, So.**)
99 Justin Edison (6-4, 240, Fr.**)

DT 92 Brian Price (6-2, 300, So.) (5)
90 Jerzy Siewierski (6-2, 285, Jr.)
74 Nathaniel Skaggs (6-4, 294, Sr.**)

DT 93 Brigham Harwell (6-1, 280, Sr.**) (2)
50 Chase Moline (6-1, 241, Sr.)
61 Andy Keane (6-2, 276, So.**)

RE 55 Korey Bosworth (6-1, 244, Jr.**) (3)
85 David Carter (6-5, 261, So.**)
96 Datone Jones (6-4, 238, Fr.)

SLB 12 John Hale (6-4, 227, Sr.)
40 Akeem Ayers (6-4, 234, Fr.**)
17 Chinonso Anyanwu (6-4, 213, Jr.**)

MLB 51 Reggie Carter (6-1, 220, Jr.**) (8)
43 Steve Sloan (6-4, 232, Fr.**)

WLB 54 Kyle Bosworth (6-1, 233, Sr.) (7)
21 Sean Westgate (5-11, 202, Fr.)
53 Joshua Edwards (6-1, 229, Sr.**)
41 Mike Schmitt (6-1, 223, So.**)

LC 22 Michael Norris (5-10, 180, Sr.**) (1)
9 Aaron Hester (6-1, 189, Fr.)
26 Andrew Abbott (5-10, 170, Fr.)^

SS 3 Rahim Moore (6-1, 176, Fr.)
6 Tony Dye (5-11, 190, Fr.)
2 E.J. Woods (6-0, 199, Fr.)

FS 27 Aaron Ware (6-0, 196, Jr.**)
20 Glenn Love (6-4, 200, Fr.**)
31 Garrett Rubio (5-10, 190, So.**)^

RC 1 Alterraun Verner (5-11, 177, Jr.) (11)
7 Courtney Viney (5-8, 150, Fr.**)
26 Andrew Abbott (5-10, 170, Fr.)^


PK 25 Kai Forbath (6-0, 196, So.**) (13)
49 Jeff Locke (6-1, 198, Fr.))

KO 37 Jimmy Rotstein (5-11, 173, Jr.**)^ (13)

P 17 Aaron Perez (6-4, 225, Sr.**) (13)
39 Danny Reese (6-3, 180, So.**)^

LS 52 Christian Yount (6-1, 257, So.) (13)

H 17 Aaron Perez (6-4, 225, Sr.**)

PR 4 Terrence Austin (5-10, 165, Jr.)
2 Ryan Graves (6-1, 174, Sr.**)

KOR 4 Terrence Austin (5-10, 165, Jr.)
20 Raymond Carter (6-0, 202, Fr.**)

( ) indicates number of games started in 2007 season
**indicates utilized redshirt year
^ indicates non-scholarship player


QB 7 Ben Olson (6-5, 236, Sr.**) (5)
WR 10 Gavin Ketchum (6-5, 206, Jr.**) - illness
SS 25 Bret Lockett (6-1, 210, Sr.) (1) - suspension
OT 60 Jeff Baca (6-4, 289, Fr.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bears Going with Two Quarterbacks?

Interesting story on ESPN. Looks like Cal might be platooning their quarterbacks this season. But for the opener, Kevin Riley (last years' backup) is getting the starting nod over senior Nate Longshore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My First and Last Practice

So, I've been away a lot lately. Good for me personally but bad for the blog. But today made a trip to Westwood to see my first practice of the season. It was the very last practice of the season and now the team heads into seclusion to prepare for the opener.

Nothing special happened. The team wasn't in full pads and there wasn't any major injuries. I'll have thoughts on it later, but my first impression is that this offense needs a lot of work. They have a very long way to go if they want to compete with Tennessee in a week and half. In the 7-on-7 and 11-0n-11 drills the QBs made a lot of bad throws. The running game wasn't good mainly because there were no holes made by the O-line. Nothing surprising if you've been following the team all camp but I confirmed it with my own eyes today.

Michael Norris had a really good day. Made some nice plays, downed a punt inside the ten, had a nifty interception in the end zone where he took the ball almost literally out of Marcus Everett's hands. That kid has a lot of heart and he plays really intense. I always think he looks good in practice. It is just too bad that he doesn't have the size or skill to match.

On a separate note, Frank Gantz Jr (the special teams coach) is a riot. He yells and gets in the face of his players. I could hear him all the way across the field. He was giving the kickers grief during the last set of drills and I couldn't help but chuckle.

I also noticed that this staff curses a lot more than the last one. They are much more vocal and don't tolerate mistakes. I like it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is Bigger Better?

When it comes to offensive lineman, the fans love to see size. Bigger guys mean a better line, right? Well, not necessarily. The position known for big, ugly, bearded fat guys has been getting a makeover around the NCAA. With the advent of spread offenses and lighter, quicker defenses, the offensive line on many teams is morphing into a leaner, meaner, and more athletic group. That doesn't mean that everyone is going small. Some teams still like to load up their line with the biggest, baddest guys they can find. So which way will Bob Palcic go with this latest group of Bruins? Let's check out the options.

With less than three weeks before the start of the season, Palcic is still experimenting with his starting five lineman. Compared to last years team, this group is smaller and lacking a lot of experience. Here's a look at the weights of the major players in the 2007 line and those projected to play (or be backups) in the 2008 offensive line:

UCLA Bruins 2007 Roster.

Kia: 299
Lanis: 319
Reed: 310
Irvin: 308
Joseph: 289
Sutherland: 296
Abraham: 315
Average: 305

UCLA Bruins 2008 Roster.

Kia: 299
Reed: 310
Savage: 333
Ekbatani: 281
Glicksberg: 257
Harris: 305
Chandler: 252
Average: 291

Because of injuries and lack of depth, the Bruins are forced to play some smaller guys this season. The number drops mainly because of Glicksberg and Chandler, both former tight ends, joining the squad. While this unit is younger and less experienced than the 2007 group, it is also much more athletic. I could see Palcic drawing on some of these more athletic players to form a smaller, but quicker squad.

The Big Line

The advantages of a big line is that the guys can ware down the defense. The offensive lineman always has the advantage over his defensive counterpart because of two facts: 1) he knows which way the playing is going and 2) he can give up ground. This means that the offensive lineman can force the defender to expend energy trying to move him, all the while directing him away from the ball carrier. The bigger the body, the more energy the defender has to exert. Over the course of four quarters, the defender tiers out and the offensive lineman can push him around easier.

If Palcic wants to go with the big bodies, he has a pretty sizable group. Reed (310), Kia (299) and Savage (333) are already pretty big. Especially Savage, who has a big frame and a powerful upper body. If he switches out Glicksberg (257) for backup Sonny Tevaga (338) and replaces Ekbatani (281) with Harris (305) then the average weight hits an impressive 315. Harris injured his ankle on Sunday but he could be back if the sprain heals well. Tevaga has been overweight and out of shape since he came to Westwood, but he has worked hard to improve in those areas and he should be close to being ready to play. These big boys don't have the most experience or athleticism, but they'll wear down an opposing defense with their sheer bulk.

The Athletic Line

The flip side of that massive group is a leaner, more nimble and athletic squad. This is especially true for tackles. Bruce Davis showed that a smaller defensive end, with more of a linebacker-like body, can wreck havoc in the backfield. A big slow tackle is an offensive line coach's nightmare mismatch against a quick defense. A smaller, quicker tackle actually matches up better and he can provide a better pass defense. That's especially true when the quarterback is a dual-threat athlete who can take off running up the middle.

Nate Chandler is still undersized this year, but nobody else on this line has more athleticism. If he can put on some more weight and a bit more and strength (to get closer to 280) then he might be just the right guy for the job. Glicksberg is also a leaner and quicker lineman, who could be a solid pulling guard. Put Lanis (299), Reed (310), Glicksberg (257), Ekbatani (280), and Chandler (252) in there and you have a very fast and agile squad barely tipping the scale at 280.

Is Bigger Better?

The right mix of guys depends on a lot of factors and we could see this unit rotating in different players if the starters don't produce. As a whole, this group does lack size and even if we go with the more athletic lineman, you would like to see them add more weight and strength. Chandler will be very good in a year or two and next season the Bruins get Kai Maiva (the Colorado transfer) who already weights around 300 lbs.

Palcic will likely have to work miracles to make the line productive this season and its scary how little depth there is in this squad. But the good news is that they are very young with Reed being the only senior. Bigger might not always be better, but experience is always better. After a year in Bob's hands, you know this line will be much, much better.

Monday, August 11, 2008


This strikes fear into my heart. Yikes!

Olson's Career is Over

So, the reports are that Ben Olson is out for 8 weeks with a re-broken right foot. But believe me... that's it for Ben. He won't return. It's been a tumultuous career for the big southpaw but injuries and inconsistency were the major themes of his college days. Ultimately, this is the final punctuation mark for the Dorrell era as Karl's biggest recruit ended up making virtually no impact for the Bruins.

This is the exact same injury that put Ben in crutches back in April. He rested for almost 3 months before getting back out to practice. You have to figure it will take him at least that long this time around. That puts him back in practice in November, and with the broken foot he won't be able to stay in shape and it will take him a while to get back into playing form. That leaves him with almost no games left. If Craft or Forcier (or anyone for that matter) is even remotely productive while Olson is gone, the coaching staff won't put Ben back in there. So believe me, this is it for Ben.

If you count up all the games where Ben Olson hasn't played since high school, the number is shocking. Olson graduated from Thousand Oaks high school in 2002. He red shirted his first season at BYU, so that's 12 games there. His two year Mormon mission adds in another 24 games. In his first season at UCLA, he fractured a thumb and was sidelined early. Drew Olson took over and had a fantastic season with Ben only played in garbage time for two games, so he sat out 10. In 2006, he started the first five games but suffered a knee injury against Arizona that cost him the remaining 7 games. Last year, Olson was only available to play in 6 games. That's a total of 59 games since 2002 where Ben hasn't played. That doesn't even count the games he'll miss this year, which will likely be all of them.

You got to feel bad for Ben, but it's almost better that it happened this way. UCLA needs to move on and the last vestiges of the old regime are now finally gone. This will be a building year for the future of Bruin football and the sooner the next quarterback can get some snaps and experience the better.

2008 Preview: Tennessee

With the return of Rick Neuheisel to Westwood, all eyes will be on the Bruins this September as they take the field for the first time under his leadership. It's fitting then that the inaugural game will be broadcast on Monday Night Football, at the greatest football stadium in the country, against one of the nation's best teams. The Tennessee Volunteers enter the 2008 campaign ranked in the top-20 and they'll be a gigantic test for UCLA.

The Volunteers have been known for their strong running attack in years past and this year should see a return to that tradition. Arian Foster put together a 1,200 yard season last year and the Volunteers have another pair of talented backs behind him. Foster also has five returning starting lineman to run behind. The good news for the Bruins is that our run defense will be a real strength. The defensive line is solid and Price and Harwell will be a dangerous duo in the middle. It will likely be a grind it out battle in the trenches and the Bruin's depth will be sorely tested.

The rest of the Tennessee offense is a bit of a question mark. With a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterback, and a whole new offensive philosophy, it is hard to know what this team will look like in the fall. If the Bruins can put up a sturdy defense against the run then they might find some success by forcing Jonathan Crompton to throw. The Junior is coming back from off-season surgery and he has only played limited minutes in his career. He does have a very talented receiving corp at his disposal and our young secondary will have a baptism by fire on Labor Day.

Last season the Volunteers were average as a team defense but they have some talented players including one of the best safety tandems in the country in Eric Berry and Demetrice Morely. Without an establish offensive line, it's hard to see the Bruins putting up a strong passing attack against this team. It is likely that Chow will put the ball in the hands of his running backs to carry the day. Linebacker Rico McCoy will be one to watch as he is the top returning tackler on the team and a likely all SEC player. Also, defensive end Robert Ayers will challenge the young offensive line and look for the Volunteers to send a lot of blitzes against Craft to rattle him. I think UCLA can exploit some seems in the Volunteer defense with Moya and Paulsen getting involved in Chow's scheme.

I think this game will be closer than it might appear on paper. UCLA has always played well at home and you know the players and fans will be pumped for the start of the Neuhiesel era. At the end of the day, I think Tennessee's experience and depth will be a bit too much for the Bruins. I can see our offense struggling at times and Craft and the offensive line probably won't be able to put up many points. That means the game will hinge on how well the Bruin defense can stop the Volunteer offense. The X-factor in all of this is turnovers and the play of the two new quarterbacks. A big fumble or a timely interception could spell victory for one of these teams.

I'm calling this one for Tennessee. CP's prediction: UCLA defeat: 17 - 10.

(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fire the Lawnmower Man

Ben Olson re-injured his foot on Saturday. USC's starting quarterback Mark Sanchez dislocated his knee cap last week. Pat Cowan tore his ACL back in April. That's four QB injuries to three different players in three months... all with zero contact. I say fire the lawnmower man.

It should come as no surprise that Ben Olson is hurt. The big southpaw has missed more games thans he's made during his time at UCLA. Apparently he hurt his foot on an almost identical play to what put him in crutches back during the spring. They'll find out this week if the injury will sideline him for his senior season or if there is any chance he can put on pads again this season.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Year of the Freshman

There was a lot of hype around UCLA's last two recruiting classes. Both the '07 and '08 classes were chalked full of four and sometimes five star talent. This season, we should see many of those players, both red-shirt freshman and true freshman, taking the field. The early reports out of the fall camp point to this being the year of the freshman.

When Aundre Dean and Rahim Moore committed to UCLA, they were considered the crown jewels in an already rich recruiting class. Coach Neuheisel obviously saw their talent early on and he has both players taking lots of reps in practice. In particular, Moore looks like he could have the inside track on the strong safety position. According to Brian Dohn:
Moore said he was not having trouble picking up the basic defenses UCLA is running. "I'm not lost,'' Moore said. "I'm actually coming along pretty good. I'm in my learning process right now where every day I'm still learning. I've been running with the 1s, and the pace has been fast, but I'm used to it since the summer.''
Dean likely won't unseat Kalil Bell as the starting tail back, but he'll probably see a lot of playing time anyways. Dean has the physical stature well beyond his years and he doesn't look like a true freshman. The guy is big and strong and he'll be a powerful running back. The sooner Dean learns the offense, the better, and I can see him developing into a significant contributer for the Bruins this year.

Behind Dean is a whole host of other new backs. Raymond Carter, Derrick Coleman, Johnathan Franklin, and Milton Knox will also put on pads for the first time and fight for minutes as well. I don't see Franklin or Knox playing a whole lot this year, barring injuries ahead of them in the depth chart, but having them red shirt will be good for the program in the long run.

The other new recruits are showing some sparks on offense as well. Receiver Nelson Rosario made a spectacular finger tip catch at the end of Thursday's practice. He beat out fellow freshman Anthony Dye who has been working a lot with the two sets of practices coach Neuheisel was running the first few days of camp.

On the defensive line, Dantone Jones impressed PE beat writer Kevin Pearson with his size and strength:

Among the more physically impressive freshmen is defensive end Datone Jones, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. Jones, a Compton High grad, looks like he has tree trunks for legs and just looks different than most freshmen tend to look.

"He has an NFL body," defensive tackle Brigham Harwell said. "He'll be a great Bruin here. I look forward to watching him and seeing what he can do."

Jones is currently listed as a defensive end, but he could morph into a tackle as he continues to grow and develop. I can easily see him getting into the two deep at end this season and pushing Bosworth. Senior corner back Michael Norris is also going to get a lot of pressure from red-shirt freshman Courtney Viney, who was impressive in the spring game, and true freshman Aaron Hester. The secondary is pretty thin to begin with so the more guys we can get into the mix the better.

It's easy to get excited about the new faces, but we also have to take some of these reports with a grain of salt. With the lack of success over the last few seasons, it is natural for us fans to latch onto any new player who is full of talent and promise. All of these kids could turn out to be outstanding players for UCLA, but each one has a long way to go in their careers. They'll make mistakes, drop balls, get burned in coverage, and miss a tackle or two, or ten. They are still young and they still need to develop both physically and mentally. The college game is much faster paced than in high school and the PAC-10 if chocked full of future NFL talent. It won't be an easy season for them, but it does give you a warm fuzzy feeling that the future of UCLA football looks bright.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Comment Moderation

Sorry, but I've been getting comment "spam" from those damn bots out there. I'm going to try a few things to eliminate that. Sorry for the inconvenience.

2008 Preview: UCLA Bruins

Rebuilding... It's a term you'll hear a lot this season. After losing a bevy of seniors and most of the starters from last season, UCLA will be forced to play a lot of new faces this fall. Considering how average this team has been recently, that might not be a bad thing. With a new coaching staff, a new offensive scheme, and a new attitude, the 2008 season should be considered an opportunity to gain some experience for the future.


The Bruin offense has had its share of struggles the last few seasons. This year should be no different, with one big exception... the man calling the plays from the press box. Norm Chow takes over the reigns as offensive coordinator and a simpler, leaner, and more effective playbook is now in the hands of the players. We can't expect Chow to work miracles in his first season, but the play calling on game day should be markedly better.

Let's start with the bad news first. The offensive line is a patch work group with very little experience. Micah Kia and Micah Reed are the only returning starters from last season and Reed is a former walk-on moving from guard to center. With the loss of Sean Sheller during the off season to an ATV accident, this unit went from dangerously thin to running on rails. Mike Harris, Nate Chandler, and Nick Ekbatani will battle to replace Sheller wiht Ekbatani likely backing up a number of spots along the line. New coach Bob Palcic will also rely on defensive line convert Darius Savage and former tight end Scott Glicksberg to round out this unit.

It's not that the offensive line is without talent. Savage and Kia both have the potential to be NFL caliber lineman. Nate Chandler will be intriguing as a converted tight-end who has great athleticism. They just lack experience, in some situations size, and there is very, very little depth here. The Bruins absolutely can't afford any injuries during the season. If this squad can improve and gel as the year progresses, then they Bruins stand a chance of winning some games.

The QB situation went from bad to worse when Pat Cowan and Ben Olson suffered injuries during the spring. Pat is done for the year and Ben is slowly coming back from surgery on his right foot. Olson wasn't exactly known for his mobility before his injury and he could be in trouble this year with an offensive line that will likely force him to run often to avoid the pass rush. I've basically given up on Olson ever becoming a productive quarterback for the blue and gold. Too many injuries and too much time has passed since his stellar high school days.

Olson is tagged as the starter, for now, but how many of us think he'll make it through the whole season? That is why all eyes are on junior college transfer Kevin Craft. I don't think Craft will be the savior signal caller this team needs. Most reports are that his arm strength isn't that good. He had a so-so spring game. I don't think the Bruins are going to win a lot of games with Kevin at the helm, especially with a suspect offensive line. But given the alternatives, he might be our best bet. Forcier is way too raw. The incoming freshman are complete unknowns. Unless Olson does a complete 180 from his prior stints behind center, then the quarterback spot looks to be a liability again this season.

The running back position, on the other hand, looks intriguing. Some reports coming out of the summer 7-on-7 drills, state that Kalil Bell might be back with a vengeance this fall. I'm sure the status of his torn ACL will be a popular topic in the weeks leading up to the season, but if he is anywhere near 100% then the Bruins should have their starting tailback. Bell was poised to have a 1000 yard season in 2007 before going down with a knee injury. I think this could be his time to shine.

The full back spot should morph this season into a more versatile role. With Pitre not getting a 6th year of eligibility, the Bruins will turn to smaller, but more athletic, replacement. Chane Moline is being targeted as a hybrid back who can switch between full back and a short-yardage tailback specialist. Trevor Theriot is also back in the mix and he has good hands.

The other running backs are all fresh faces, but that's a good thing for the future of this team. With Christian Ramierez academically ineligible this season, that pretty much guarantees that Raymond Carter and Aundre Dean will be seeing some significant playing time. It's going to be hard for this group to gain many yards behind an inexperienced line, but the experience they gain will pay dividends down the road.

The Bruin receiving corp has been a much maligned group the last few seasons. It doesn't help that the quarterbacks have been terribly inconsistent, but this squad hasn't produced a real super star either. This year looks to be a good mix of experience and freshman talent. Dominique Johnson emerged as a reliable receiver at the end of the last campaign and he could become a go-to target in the red zone. Marcus Everett is back and he'll also be a constant, if not particularly flashy, contributer. Terrance Austin and Gaving Ketchum will add depth.

Some of the true freshman could jump right into the rotation as well. Antwon Moutra has already started generating a buzz during the summer. He has break away speed and at 6'3", he could be another J.J. Stokes. Nelson Rosario also draws favorable comparisons to Stokes and his massive wing span will scoop up any passes sent his way. It looks like this group has some big upside over the next few seasons.

The Tight End position was one of the few offensive units that had depth coming into the season. It's ranks were raided by the coaching staff when Chandler and Glicksberg were both moved to fill in gaps along the offensive line. However, he remaining players still form a very talented group. Ryan Moya is back in the lineup after missing last season due to injury and personal issues. Logan Paulsen will be the other big target and he's been named to the Makey award watch list. Freshman Corey Harkey will also see minutes this season. Expect Norm Chow to work the ends into the game plan more this season.


The Bruins have been a defensive team the last few seasons and that should continue under 3rd year coordinator Dewayne Walker. He'll have a lot of open positions to fill this season and expect coach Walker to utilize many of the incoming freshman, especially in the secondary. UCLA may not have the dominant defense it had the last two season, but they have the potential to be a very good squad.

The deepest and most talented unit on the team is the defensive tackle position. Brigham Harwell and Brian Price could be one of the best duos in the conference and possibly the country. Some of that depends on how well Harwell comes back from a season ending injury last year. When Harwell was healthy, he was considered one of UCLA's best tackles, at least until Brian price put on the blue and gold. Price was a freshman all American last season and he's NFL bound for sure. Jeff Ward, Jerzy Sierwierski, and Chase Moline add some quality depth and both have played some significant minutes over the last few years.

It will be hard for the Bruins to replace departed senior Bruce Davis. Tom Blake and Korey Bosworth both played opposite from Davis and they were reasonably productive. However, without Bruce receiving double teams, these two will have to prove that they can hold their own out on the field. There is not much depth here and the two incoming freshman, Dantone Jones and Damien Holmes, could make their way into the rotation this fall. UCLA will need an effective pass rush from the ends to help take the pressure off of a very young secondary.

With the departure of the senior backfield, the Bruins will see a lot of new faces taking up corner and safety positions this fall. Only Alteraun Verner returns with any significant experience. Michael Norris is taking up the other spot across from Verner but the perenial backup may not stay in the starting lineup long if he doesn't prove he can handle the pressure. Brett Lockett has been suspended for the season opener, so the strong safety spot could be up for grabs as well. Looking to take over some minutes is a host of young freshman. Red shirt freshman, Cortney Viney and Glen Love had strong springs. In coming freshman Rahim Moore will challenge for playing time as well. This group has big play potential but will likely get burned a few times as they cut their teeth adapting to the college game.

The final squad on defense is the linebackers, and this team will miss the steady pressence of senior capitan Christian Taylor. Reggie Carter takes over the reigns in the middle and he'll be asked to lead this team. Carter has shown great talent and athleticism, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the added responsibilities of a team leader. John Hale and Kyle Bosworth will man the outside and Josh Edwards will challenge for playing time after missing most of the spring and summer due to injury. This squad isn't very experienced but they have some talented depth with red shirt freshman Steve Sloan and Akeem Ayers.

Special Teams

The Bruins have excelled in recent years on special teams and this season should continue that tradition. Kai Forbath has a booming leg. As his accuracy and consistancy continue to improve he should become an All American before his days in Westwood are over. Aaron Perez is in his final season and he has seen a steady improvement in his punting each season. This duo should give UCLA a fighting chance in close games.

The kick-off and punt return units continue to be in flux every other year. In 2005 the Bruins relied on the amazing skills of Maurice Drew to bedazzle fans. In 2007, Matt Slater salvaged an otherwise disapointing season with his heroics. It doesn't look like anyone will be able to fill those shoes this season but Terrance Austin should continue as an inconsitant if not sometimes brilliant punt returner. The kick return role is completley up for grabs.

The Outlook

Overall the Bruins have an uphill battle going for them this season. Without a solid and reliable line, the offense will likely stall and sputter. You can count on Chow to use bootlegs, quick passes, and misdirection to try and minimize that weakness. If anyone can make this team look good, you know Chow and Neuheisel can.

Even with a suspect line, the Bruins can still excell. Last year, Arizona State had statistically one of the worst lines in the conference yet they captured a PAC-10 co-championship. Of course, the Sun Devils had Rudy Carpenter and UCLA... well UCLA doesn't. If the skill positions can make some progress, especially at quarterback, then the Bruins have a fighting chance in many of their games.

The defense should be good, but likely not great. The run defense in particular should be very strong with the trinity of Price, Harwell, and Carter in the middle. Inexperience on the sides and secondary will probably cost UCLA some points against the better passing teams on the schedule. But if the offense can take a few steps forward this season then the defense can likely steal a game or two away.

It won't be a hallmark season and the Bruins will be lucky to make it back to a bowl game this season. But progress isn't always measured in wins and loses. If this team can improve each week and add some much needed experience to it's young and talented roster then this season can be viewed as a step in the right direction.

In my next post, I'll break down the schedule and make my predictions for the 2008 season.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Reports of my Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Wow, been a busy few months. But I'm back and I have a few posts lined up about the up coming season. Thanks for reading this site and visiting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Brehaut a Bruin

The coaching staff has taken their time evaluating the quarterbacks in the 2009 class. This weekend, they looked at two local talents who were both favoring the Bruins. Josh Nunes of Upland High School and Richard Brehaut of Los Osos High School. The two inland empire signal callers were considered among the best in the state. Brehaut got the nod and he committed to the staff.

Richard had a stellar 2007 Junior season. He passed for 2,348 yards and 22 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. He completed 65% of his passes and many recruiting experts consider him a very accurate passer on short and intermediate length routes. In addition to his passing game, Brehaut racked up 528 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

While not necessarily a duel threat quarterback, he does have enough quickness to be elusive. He can also throw fairly well on the move. ESPN states that he has a good pocket presence and a strong football intelligence. Scout reports that he has a 3.6 GPA, so he's no dummy. He has adequate arm strength but his accuracy drops a lot when he throws deep down field.

Brehaut had outstanding offers from Nebraska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Many of those offers came in the last few weeks and this young man has seen his stock rise considerably as of late. Scout ranked him as #22 QB in the nation with four stars. Rivals ranks him higher as the #9 QB with four stars. By any measure, he is a very good pickup for the coaching staff.

Considering that his high school's uniforms are the same as UCLA... I guess it was meant to be!
(Photo credit:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

O-line help

It looks like UCLA might be getting a transfer along the O-line. Kai Maiava, who is the younger brother of the USC linebacker, is supposed to be heading to Westwood. He is a big 300 pounder who was at Colorado last season. Still haven't seen the official announcement, but Jill Painter at the Daily News is reporting it as well.

Maiava will have to sit out the 2008 season, due to NCAA transfer rules, but he'll be a solid addition for the following season. He played a bit a guard his freshman year and then switched to full back last season. He was used sparingly in the rotation and found himself buried on the depth chart this spring with the Buffs.

Recruiting Snapshot

Not a lot of recruiting news lately. Still, I put together my recruiting snapshot image for the 2009 class. Pretty easy to see the imbalance as the Bruins have six commits on defense and not a single one on offense. Click the image below to see it in full size and make sure you zoom in (the picture is pretty big)...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Depth Chart

The post Spring depth chart is out. It doesn't differ much from the pre-spring depth chart, but there are a few notable exceptions.

We all know that Pat Cowan is done for the season. That moves Ben into the #1 slot assuming he can be back to full health in time for the season. Sean Sheller moved from the #2 left tackle to the starting right tackle because of the medical retirement of Alexi Lanis. None of those were surprises.

Some players have moved up the depth chart a bit. John Hale is now the starter at strong-side linebacker since Kyle Bosworth was moved to the starting WLB. Josh Edwards, who was the starter before the spring, moved to the #2 slot behind Bosworth. Jess Ward passed up Jeff Miller for the second DT spot behind Brian Price.

Scott Glicksberg, who was pegged as the backup center, moved into a tie for the starting spot at right guard with Nick Ekbatani. Ekbatani really struggled to hang onto his playing time last season and it will be interesting to see if Glicksberg will pass him up. Kalil Bell and Raymond Carter are still the two leading tailbacks but Christian Ramirez has moved from 4th string to a tie for 3rd string with Moline.

The coaches seem really high on Ramirez as he is also now tagged as the starting kick-off return man. Ryan Graves has also been moved to punt returns.

Here is the complete depth chart:


SE 19 Dominique Johnson (6-3, 208, So.**) (3)
10 Gavin Ketchum (6-5, 209, Jr.**)
2 Ryan Graves (6-1, 167, Sr.**)
27 Ryal Jagd (6-3, 187, Fr.**) ^
35 David Martini (6-1, 197, Fr.**)^

LT 73 Micah Kia (6-6, 298, Jr.) (8)
69 Brandon Bennett (6-4, 319, So.**)

LG 77 Darius Savage (6-4, 338, So.**)
55 Sonny Tevaga (6-3, 337, So.**)
50 Aaron Meyer (6-1, 296, Sr.**)

C 58 Micah Reed (6-4, 316, Sr.**) (8 at OG)
57 Jake Dean (6-4, 286, So.**)
53 Adam Heater (6-5, 246, Jr.**)

RG 66 Scott Glicksberg (6-4, 269, Sr.**) (1 at TE) OR
75 Nick Ekbatani (6-4, 290, Jr.**)
61 Andy Keane (6-2, 284, So.**)

RT 72 Sean Sheller (6-5, 282, So.**)
65 Mike Harris (6-5, 311, Fr.**)

TE 86 Logan Paulsen (6-6, 252, Sr.) (13)
15 Ryan Moya (6-4, 229, Jr.**)
89 Nate Chandler (6-3, 265, Fr.**)
81 Glenn Rauscher (6-3, 223, Fr.**)^

QB 7 Ben Olson (6-4, 235, Sr.**) (5)
3 Kevin Craft (6-5, 210, Jr.**)
8 Chris Forcier (6-3, 185, Fr.**)
11 Osaar Rasshan (6-4, 214, Jr.**) (3)
12 Pat Cowan (6-5, 218, Sr.**) (5) ##

FB 31 Trevor Theriot (6-0, 233, Jr.**) (6)
45 Tobi Umodu (6-0, 235, So.**)

TB 36 Kahlil Bell (6-0, 206, Sr.) (5)
20 Raymond Carter (5-11, 202, Fr.**)
42 Chane Moline (6-1, 236, Jr.) (1) OR
24 Christian Ramirez (6-3, 211, Jr.)
21 Craig Sheppard (6-1, 193, Jr.**)^

FL 9 Marcus Everett (6-1, 212, Sr.**) (1)
4 Terrence Austin (5-10, 160, Jr.)
82 Taylor Embree (6-4, 195, Fr.)
6 Jamil Turner (6-1, 204, Jr.**)
26 Mike Angelo (6-1, 191, Jr.**)^
21 Ben Bruneau (6-0, 204, Fr.**)^


LE 55 Korey Bosworth (6-1, 235, Jr.**) (3)
47 Chinonso Anyanwu (6-4, 216, Jr.**)
85 David Carter (6-5, 257, So.**)

DT 92 Brian Price (6-1, 297, So.) (5)
52 Jess Ward (6-4, 280, Jr.**) (6)
98 Jeff Miller (6-5, 259, So.**)
51 Nathaniel Skaggs (6-4, 300, Sr.**)

DT 93 Brigham Harwell (6-2, 292, Sr.**) (2)
90 Jerzy Siewierski (6-2, 285, Jr.)
50 Chase Moline (6-2, 252, Sr.)

RE 56 Tom Blake (6-4, 259, Sr.**) (8)
91 Reginald Stokes (6-3, 250, So.**)
99 Justin Edison (6-3, 244, Fr.**)

SLB 12 John Hale (6-4, 220, Sr.)
40 Akeem Ayers (6-2, 231, Fr.**)

MLB 51 Reggie Carter (6-1, 221, Jr.**) (8)
43 Steve Sloan (6-3, 225, Fr.**)
57 Justin Woolbright (6-1, 217, Fr.**)^
59 Michael Lutu (6-1, 233, So.**)^

WLB 54 Kyle Bosworth (6-1, 222, Sr.) (7)
53 Joshua Edwards (6-1, 232, Sr.**)
48 Mike Schmitt (6-0, 224, So.**)

LC 22 Michael Norris (5-9, 177, Sr.**) (1)
7 Courtney Viney (5-8, 153, Fr.**)

SS 25 Bret Lockett (6-2, 204, Sr.) (1)
35 Matt Culver (6-2, 201, Sr.**)^
31 Garrett Rubio (5-9, 186, So.**)^

FS 27 Aaron Ware (6-0, 193, Jr.**)
20 Glenn Love (6-4, 207, Fr.**)
32 Michael Ciaccio (6-0, 173, So.**)^

RC 1 Alterraun Verner (5-11, 176, Jr.) (11)
30 Chris Meadows (5-11, 175, Sr.**)^


PK 15 Kai Forbath (6-0, 197, So.**) (13)
KO 37 Jimmy Rotstein (5-11, 174, Jr.**)^ (13)
P 17 Aaron Perez (6-4, 229, Sr.**) (13)
LS 52 Christian Yount (6-1, 250, So.) (13)
H 17 Aaron Perez (6-4, 229, Sr.**)
PR 4 Terrence Austin (5-10, 160, Jr.)
2 Ryan Graves (6-1, 167, Sr.**)
KOR 24 Christian Ramirez (6-3, 211, Jr.)
4 Terrence Austin (5-10, 160, Jr.)