Saturday, December 12, 2009

Go Navy Beat Army!

For this week anyways... Navy is my favorite team. Come on midshipmen, beat those army boys!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

UCLA’s Bowl hopes could come down to Notre Dame decision

UCLA is currently on the outside looking in, bowl-wise.

This weekend brought mixed results for a UCLA at-large bid. Wyoming and UConn both won, closing off two open bowl slots. But the teams looking to get to seven wins in the hope of securing the other remaining open bowl slots mostly lost.

Right now there are five six-win teams looking to fill two slots.

Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe are not particularly attractive options for bowl committees, especially for something like the Humanitarian Bowl.

Conference USA has a contingency agreement to fill the EagleBank Bowl should Army lose this week, allowing six-win Marshall to go bowling.

That leaves Notre Dame and UCLA.

The Irish are a more attractive option, for sure. The question now becomes: Will Notre Dame accept an invitation to a lesser bowl during a very likely coaching transition? If the Irish turn-down a bid, then it’s likely the Humanitarian will invite UCLA.

The spoiler right now is Hawaii. After upsetting Navy at home this week, they get a crack at seven wins against Wisconsin, and a guaranteed slot in the Hawaii Bowl should they pull another upset. That would leave an at-large, seven-win WAC team, which would then cascade a number of bowl changes, leaving no place for UCLA.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

10 Reasons

Every year, I give 10 reasons why the Bruins could beat the Troajans. Here's the 2009 installation!

1. Momentum

The Bruins are 3-0 in their last 3 games. USC is only 1-2. Granted, the level of competition wasn't nearly the same... but momentum can be a big thing.

2. Turnovers

We need 'em. Last week against ASU, UCLA was +6 on turnovers. We'll have to win the turnover battle at the Coliseum to come out with a victory.

3. Getting Defensive

The UCLA defense was dominant last week. The USC defense has been porous. If the Bruin defense comes to play and keeps this one a low scoring contest... then our chances of victory are much improved.

4. We're Wearing our Home Jerseys!

The game might not be at the Rose Bowl, but we'll be in our home blue. UCLA has historically done very well against USC wearing the home jersey. Maybe that streak will continue.

5. The Price is Right

Brian Price demands double teams. Brian Price still gets tackles for loss. Brian Price is sooo going to the NFL next year. But this year... he's wearing blue and gold.

6. Pick-6

Alteraun Verner and Rahim Moore have been interception machines this season. Matt Barkley has also been turnover prone this last month. A defensive touchdown for the Bruins would be a huge boost for this team.

7. The BCS is Bust

The Trojans won't be going to a BCS game this year. That's the first time that has happened in a very long while. They may not have much motivation, as in years past, to come out play. What's the difference between the Sun and Vegas bowls? Not much for the ketchup and mustard...

8. Rusty

Sometimes a bye week can help your team heal and get focused. Other times, it can let your team dwell on a poor performance. USC has been idle since the got whooped soundly by the Cardinal. They might need to shake a little rust off at the start of this game.

9. Play not to Lose

The Bruin offense and the coaching staff did a great job of sitting on a lead and riding that to victory last week. An early start to this contest would go a long way to improving our chances for a win.

10. Play to Win

Kevin Prince has been slinging the ball lately. His new found confidence to let the rock fly has been one of the key reasons this offense has been more productive. UCLA has nothing to lose today and everything to gain... play for the win!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Breaking Down UCLA's Bowl Chances

With the UCLA-USC game kicking off at 7:00 PM tomorrow, that leaves a lot for Bruin fans to do during the day. For those interested in UCLA's bowl fate, here's a break-down on who to root for and against, and why.

Scenario 1: Poinsettia Bowl

There is a small chance that UCLA could finish tied for sixth place in conference, potentially receiving an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl, the last of the Pac-10’s six bowl tie-ins.

If UCLA beats USC, and the Trojans lose their final game to Arizona, USC and UCLA would (unbelievably) be tied. Alternately, if the Bruins beat USC, and Arizona loses its final two games, the Bruins and Wildcats would finish tied. In fact, should UCLA and Arizona State both win this Saturday, UCLA would be guaranteed a sixth-place tie with the loser of the Arizona-USC game the following week.

Even if UCLA winds up tied for sixth, however, that merely gives the Poinsettia Committee the option of selecting UCLA. There is no tie-breaker rule for the lower-level bowls like there is for the Rose Bowl. The Poinsettia can choose whomever they like among any teams tied for sixth in the Pac-10, presumably based on which one they feel would provide the better TV ratings and ticket sales.

Root against Arizona

The Poinsettia would almost surely pick USC over anyone else, since they are a huge draw. But the Bruins would likely get a nod over Arizona. So we want to be tied with the Wildcats. After two big, disappointing loses, Arizona is only three-point favorites on the road this week against Arizona State, and will finish the season at USC.

Scenario 2: Seven wins, At-large bowl bid

The Poinsettia is a long shot. UCLA is most likely facing an at-large bowl bid. There is, of course, no guarantee the Bruins get an invite, so several things need to work in our favor.

First things first, though. NCAA rules require bowls looking for at-large replacements to select seven-win teams ahead of six-win teams. Bragging rights aside, beating USC this week gets UCLA to seven wins, and therefore puts them at the front of the line for any open bowl slots.

In fact, it would all but guarantee UCLA an invite, likely from the Humanitarian.

Scenario 3: Six wins, At-large bowl bid

This is probably the most likely scenario anyway, so let’s focus on it. It’s still possible for UCLA to land a bowl game with six wins. But it would be a steep climb.

The formula is simple: We need as many conferences as possible to not fill their bowl obligations, opening up potential slots for UCLA to play. And we need as few teams with seven wins as possible, keeping them from bumping UCLA out of those spots.

Potential slots

Up to eight bowl slots could become available this season for at-large teams. The ACC will definitely not fill two of its obligations, the EagleBank and GMAC Bowls. Depending on how things turn out, up to six additional bowls – the Humanitarian, New Mexico, St. Petersburg, Pizza, Texas, and the GMAC (in search of a second team) -- might be looking for replacements as well.

Cheer for TCU and Boise State

The best thing working for UCLA right now in terms of an at-large bowl bid is TCU and Boise State. If both the Horned Frogs and the Broncos win their final games, they can get at-large BCS bowl invites.

Not only does that open-up additional bowl spots, but, more importantly, it opens up western bowls, as the WAC and Mountain West would have two fewer teams to fill their bowl tie-ins. Bowls in the west would naturally prefer to have western teams in order to maximize interest and attendance. UCLA is much more likely to get an invite to the Humanitarian or New Mexico Bowl than any bowl game east of the Mississippi. These are prime spots for the Bruins.

Both TCU and Boise State are at home this week. TCU has an almost guaranteed win against New Mexico – they are 44 point favorites! Boise State faces a much tougher test in Nevada, although are 14-point favorites.

Root against Wyoming, Hawaii, Army, Kansas, and UConn

All of these schools have five wins right now. Those that get to six (in Hawaii’s case seven) will receive automatic bowl berths by virtue of their conference tie-ins.

A Wyoming loss is the most important, since a win would put the Cowboys in the New Mexico Bowl, one of the two available bowls out west. Wyoming finishes their season against a Colorado State team still looking for its first conference win. This is a rivalry game, though, and the Rams are at home. The Cowboys are actually three-point dogs.

Hawaii is also important, since a seven-win Hawaii team gets an automatic invite to the Hawaii Bowl. They face a tough contest this week at home against Navy, who are 10-point favorites, and would need another win over a very good Wisconsin squad the following week at home to qualify. If they lose either game, the WAC would fill their spot with another eligible team, which would leave no additional at-large WAC teams to fill those western bowls.

Kansas, UConn, and Army losses are helpful in that at-large eastern schools would likely fill these bowl spots before coming out west. Kansas is three-point underdogs against rival Missouri in their season finale. Connecticut has two games left on their schedule. They face a likely win against Syracuse at home this week, and are 14-point favorites. They have a second (although more difficult) chance for a win next week at home against South Florida. Army takes on Navy in two weeks, and will be underdogs.

Teams to fill them

There are a number of at-large teams with six wins or better right now. Some teams are virtually guaranteed bowl slots by virtue of contingency contracts – Bowling Green will probably go to the GEAC and Middle Tennessee to one of the SEC’s unfilled bowls, assuming the SEC sends two teams to the BCS. There are also a handful of teams at five wins that could become bowl eligible this week.

But we’ll focus on the most likely competition to fill the above bowl slots.

Northern Illinois is already at seven wins, with an outside shot at getting to eight. They are almost certainly going bowling, it’s just a question of where.

Notre Dame is an almost certain lock to get a bowl, too, since they are such a huge television draw. They will be the first six-win team chosen, if they can’t get to seven, you can bank on that. Stanford should handle them on the Farm this week in any case.

Cheer against UAB, SMU, and Marshall

Conference USA has contingency contracts to fill Army’s spot in the GMAC and the Big-12’s spot in the Texas Bowl should those become available. They can fill Army’s spot now, but don’t (currently) have a seventh team to take the Big-12 slot. UAB can get there with a win over Central Florida at home this week. The Blazers are three-point dogs.

In a worst case scenario -- should Army and Kansas win their final games -- all three of these C-USA teams will be at-large. SMU and Marshall have six wins. Keeping both at that mark means less seven-win teams looking for an invite. Southern Methodist is heavily favored (-17) at home this week against a perennially terrible Tulane team. Marshall plays at UTEP in a toss-up.

Cheer against Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette

These two schools have six wins, but the Sun Belt has already filled its lone bowl obligation, and will likely put its second-place team into the SEC’s open spot. If these teams get to seven wins, they would get invites over a six-win UCLA squad.

This is an exciting weekend for the Sun Belt, as their best teams go toe-to-toe. Monroe will be at home against second-place Middle Tennessee, who is only favored by three. Lafayette is nine-point dogs at home against the conference leader, Troy. Bowling Green is eight-point favorites in their MAC finale at home against Toledo.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One Step Forward...

You have to wonder. Just when it looks like UCLA has found a quarterback, he gets hurt. That pretty much sums up the last decade of Bruin football.

If Kevin Prince didn't break his jaw against Tennessee, missing the next two games, where would this offense be right now? If Prince went for a slide instead of putting his head down and getting that helmet-to-helmet hit yesterday, where would the offense have finished yesterday?

It was great to get a win yesterday. It was even better watching the offense roll on it's first two drives of the game to touchdowns.

If we could just find some consistency and health at the quarterback position, that could be the regular state of affairs on Saturday.

Let's just hope that Kevin Prince gets a clean bill of health this week and can play out the rest of the season. If he can finish strong, it will really boost the confidence of this team for next season.

If he can't get back out there then this team might be starting over at QB. Again. For like the bazillionth time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Must Win

The month of October was a house of horrors for the Bruins. The offense was anemic, the defense couldn't tackle, and the play calling was conservative. Standing at second to last in the conference and still 3 wins away from a Bowl bid, the Bruins must win... and must win now.

The good news, if you can find that silver lining in the Oregon State game, was an offense that seemed to come alive in that 4th quarter. Nelson Rosario made some huge plays and UCLA has desperately needed a play maker like that at receiver.

Kevin Prince looked like a gunslinger as well. We finally got a glimpse of why the coaches were excited about Prince coming into the season.

The question is will that offensive juice keep flowing the rest of the season?

November lines up nicely for the Bruins with a favorable schedule. With UW, WSU, and Arizona State up next, the Bruins are hitting the bottom half of the PAC-10. None of those games are gimmes, but each are entirely winnable.

SC has definitely fallen from their pedistal atop the conference, but they are still a very talented and dangerous team. I don't see the Bruins walking into the coliseum and having a good chance to win that game.

So that leaves the next 3 games. A short 3-game season that UCLA will have to sweep if any post season dreams are going to come true.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trojans Should Beat Cal Tonight

let me just preface this by saying I'm pulling for the Bears in tonight 's big showdown with the Trojans. But USC should win this one. Here's why...

The Trojans have an offense that has racked up a lot of yards. They rank #1 in the conference in total offense (which is measured by yards gained). They can move the ball well.

Likewise, when it comes to total defense, they are ranked #2 in the conference. They can stop you from moving the ball.

The problem is they aren't moving the ball when they need to.

Despite being #1 in total offense, the Trojans only are only the 5th ranked team in term of scoring offense. A more shocking number is that USC ranks dead last in the conference in 3rd down conversion percentage.

The other big problem is turnovers. They have a turnover margin of -2 right now. That's good for 8th place in the conference.

They are a team with plenty of horse power, but the engine isn't firing on all cylinders right now.

With Carroll at the helm, it's just a mater of time before SC puts it all together for a game.

I think they do that tonight against a suspect Cal defense.

Pressure is on the Offense

It seems like all the stories this week have been about Toby Gerhart and the Standford running game. Everyone wants to know if the Bruin's defense can stop him?

The short answer is: no. They can't.

I don't think any defense can really stop someone as talented as Gerhart. He'll get his yards and points and there really isn't anything you can do about it.

That's why I think the real story is the Bruin's offense.

Can Craft and Franklin and the young line put together enough drives to out score the Cardinal? Our defense will limit Stanford, that's for sure, but our offense will have to deliver if we're going to come out of this one with a win.

The best case senario would be some early scores on offense to put the pressure on Luck and the Stanford passing game. The best way to prevent the Gerhart from running wild on you is to keep the ball out of his hands in the first place.

That will be a tall order indeed.

The biggest weakness on the Cardinal defense is their secondary. Craft doesn't have the arm to really challenge them deep. Somehow UCLA has to find ways to get the ball out into space away form the Stanford front seven.

I think if the Bruins can play well on offense then our defense will keep the Cardinal under 20 points. That's 3 touchdowns for the Bruins to win.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Upside Down

The PAC-10 is all backwards this year. A glimpse at the conference standings might make you do a double take. Stanford's at the top, Cal is down near the bottom, and SC is wandering around the middle.

For the first time in years, the PAC-10 is wide open.

Cal got whooped by a Ducks team that looked dead in the water just a few weeks ago. USC is 1-1 in conference play with a loss and an ugly win over the two cellar dwellers from last season. Cal hosts USC next week in a game that looked much more interesting 2 weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Stanford beat up the Huskies, who were still hung over from their win against the Trojans. Jim Harbaugh has the opportunity to take his team to a 4-1 (3-0) record for the first time in who knows how long.

Even Arizona is up at the top with their win over Oregon State last night.

This is one of those seasons where almost anyone could win the conference. I'm sure SC is still the odds on favorite, but it wouldn't surprise me to see multiple teams share the conference crown this year.

Oh, did I mention that UCLA is the only remaining undefeated team in the conference?

Ah yeah.

Next week should shake things up even more, with the Bruins and Sun Devils opening up conference play against Stanford and Oregon State.

Odd Bears are all Quacked Up

It must be an odd numbered year. Why? Because a top-10 ranked Cal team just embarrassed itself by losing to an inferior opponent... again. Here is their illustrious history over the last few odd-numbered seasons...


Start the preseason ranked #12. Go 3-0. In week-4, #6 Cal travels to unranked Oregon. A colossal loss of 42-3 plays out on national TV. The Bears fall to #24 in the AP poll immediately after the game.


Started preseason ranked #12. Went 5-0. In week 6, #2 Cal hosted Oregon St. Just before kickoff top ranked LSU lost, all but guaranteeing Berkley the #1 slot if they can beat the Beavers at home. Inspired, they take the field and lose 31- 28. The Bears go on an epic slide, losing to UCLA the following week, and finishing the season 6-6 and unranked.


Another preason ranking, this time #19. Another good start... going 5-0 and climbing to #10 in the polls. The Bears head south and get beat by #20 UCLA 47-40 on the amazing special teams work of Maurice Drew. Cal finishes the season 8-4 and manages to squeak back into the rankings at #25.

Sometimes history is just destined to repeat itself.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

YouTubing the SC Defeat @ Seattle

I love watching the game from the fan's perspective:

The winning field goal:

Rushing the field:

Celebrating on the field:

Taking it all in:

Play Within Yourself

There is an expression that you need to "play within yourself". I used to think that was just mindless coach speak. But when it comes to Kevin Craft, it's 100% appropriate.

Craft can't make long passes. He doesn't have the arm strength. But on short to medium routes, he's pretty good.

Craft can't carry the team to victory. He's a game manager. He gets into trouble when he tries to make something out of nothing. He forces passes into coverage, or just flat out makes throws he shouldn't.

When Kevin relaxes and plays calm, he's actually pretty good. He just gets worked up at times and starts making bone-headed mistakes.

This is why Prince is our future. His total numbers aren't much better than Craft, but he has the arm to throw the long ball and he doesn't try and force passes into bad situations.

I thought Craft did OK last night. I want Prince back ASAP, but Craft played decent. He was about 50-50. Half the game was good, the other half wasn't. That was better than mos of the games from last year.

Winning Ugly

It wasn't pretty but the Bruins walked out of the Rose Bowl on Saturday with a win. It wasn't anything to write home about, but UCLA is off to it's first 3-0 start since the 2005 season.

So, Kevin Craft played the entire game. With a better supporting cast around him this season, Craft rarely had to go running for his life like he did on almost every snap last year.

In the first quarter, Kevin looked down right composed. He stood tall in the pocket, connecting on the vast majority of his passes, and he had plenty of time to find the open receiver. Franklin and the running game also took pressure of the senior signal caller, as they ran through massive holes in the line.

However, Craft also slipped into the inconsistent, poor decision making play that plagued him last season. The offense as a whole struggled through most of the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Settling for field goals and 3-and-outs. A big 51-yard TD pass to Austin, on broken coverage, ended the drought and put the game into the win column.

The defense also had up-and-down moments.

They were aggressive and attacked the ball most of the night. ATV came up with two interceptions and the Bruins forced a number of fumbles, though they didn't recover any of them.

The third quarter, however, saw the defense struggle to contain the Wildcat's read option running attack. K-State put together a massive, 14 play, 8 minute drive that resulted in a touchdown.

Eventually, the Bruin defense found it's grove again in the 4th quarter as the Wild Cats were forced to pass the ball to catch up.

The real story of the night, however, was penalties.

There were mind numbing amounts of penalties last night. UCLA was fortunate to be playing an inferior opponent, because those penalties would have easily cost the game against an Oregon, Cal, or USC.

For the third consecutive week, the defense kept crucial drives alive by committing untimely penalties.

Unfortunately, the offense joined the party as well. They replaced big gains and a touchdown pass with little yellow flags. It got so bad at one point, that it seemed like every other play ended with flags being thrown.

The team ended the game with 8 penalties for 80 yards. Which brings the total this season to 22 penalties for a whopping 208 yards. Compare that to 12 penalties and 99 yards for our opponents.

Coach Neuheisel and his staff will have to work on that during the bye week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dawg'n it

Not a huge surprise that SC lost to the Huskies. Sark's got that program headed 180 degrees from where they were last year. Locker is also an amazing talent.

What was a surprise was that Aaron Corp and the SC passing game was bad. Down right atrocious. I think Carroll is going to have a rough season with his two inexperienced quarterbacks.

The moment that changed the outcome of that game is pictured here...

Thank you Mark Sanchez. The Trojan loss up in Seattle is dedicated to you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Hand Tied Behind Our Back

Just in case you thought the K-State game was going to be a walk in the park. Think again.

Prince is out and it looks like Brehaut is the starter. I like Richard and thought he looked good in the spring and fall.

Unlike many, I'm not that worried if Craft gets in there. Kevin is a warrior who will benefit from a much improved line and running game. He still makes bad decisions, but he's also another year wiser and more experienced in the offense; I think he could surprise us.

In addition to our continued bad luck with injuries to quarterback, we have four players suspended for the game on Saturday.

The biggest loss is Courtney Viney. The red-shirt sophomore did a good job filling in for Aaron Hester against Tennessee last Saturday. It looks like Sheldon Price is in the running for the starting spot. We'll see how much the Wildcats throw against him.

The other 3 players were backups on offense. Knox, Presley, and Carroll. All are talented but we have other guys that an take their reps without a problem. Maybe Thigpen will get in there and wow us with some big moves.

All of these players being unavailable might actually have some postive effect on the team. Now we have to play with more urgency and focus. With Prince in there, the team may have coasted a bit after the big win in Knoxville.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Universe Hates Us

Just when it looked like UCLA had a competent quarterback under center, the football gods decided to spit on us again. Kevin Prince has a fractured jaw and will miss 3-4 weeks.

I suppose if you're going to fracture a bone during the season, your jaw isn't the worst choice. With some healing, and a protective face mask, Prince can play with the injury. It's got to hurt like a mo fo, but it's better than a knee or an ankle.

Injuring it on the last offensive drive against Tennessee isn't the worst timing. Prince should only miss 2 games, with K-State and Stanford sandwiching the bye week. Hopefully the Bruin's offense, which struggled for most of the game against the Volunteers, can overcome this adversity and still play well in two very winnable games.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Orange Slices

What a big win for coach Neuheisel and the Bruins today.

The defense was outstanding in that 4th quarter. Just absolutely outstanding. They didn't get a break but for some 3-and-outs and still managed to come up with that huge goal line stand on 4th down.

I'm sure, when this season is all said and done, we'll look back at another sub-par season from the Vols and chalk this game up as a "should have won". But, looking at it now, it's a mighty impressive win.

I'll have more thoughts tomorrow. Need to go back and re-watch the game. Which will be very fun indeed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Special Team

For some strange reason, special teams numbers don't show up in the final box score. Return yards are rarely there, much less how far you punted, kicked-off, or how many kicks you blocked.

Yet those plays can make all the difference in a game.

Take Saturday's game against SDSU as case in point. UCLA dominated the special teams game, in every phase, and those plays boosted the Bruins to a rather comfortable victory.

Kai Forbath was money again. Do you realize how amazing it is to have a kicker who has never missed an attempt from beyond 50 yards?

While most fans hold their breath when their team's field goal unit takes the field... our fans head for the cooler. Oh, a 51 yard attempt from the left hash mark? That's a lock, I'm going to get another beer, you want one?

With Terrance Austin fielding kicks and punts, every play has the potential to be a big one. His 64 yard return after the 2nd SDSU touchdown was the boost in confidence our team needed. Now if he can just take one all the way back to the house, we'd be in business.

Just like last season, we had another blocked kick for a touchdown in the season opener. This time it was Jerzy Siewierski bum rushing his way though the line and getting a big paw up on a field goal attempt. Alteraun Verner, who has an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time, picked up the fumble and cruised into the end zone.

Those plays either directly or indirectly lead to 20 of the Bruin's 33 points. That, not so coincidentally, was basically the margin of victory.

Very special indeed.

(Photo Credit OC Register)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Glimpses of the Future

There were flashes of brilliance mixed in with freshman mistakes last night. The Bruins beat-up an over-matched Aztec squad but looked far from perfect in doing so.

It was a gorgeous day at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. That late summer sun was beaming down onto the greatest tailgating spots in the country. We had the grill going, the beer was flowing, and everyone was pumped to get the 2009 season started.

To my surprise, the air was crystal clear. You wouldn't have known that a fire ragged around the Arroyo Seco earlier in the week if it wasn't for the massive plum of smoke off in the distance.

The success of the first few SDSU drives weren't entirely surprising, in that UCLA had no idea what to expect from this team. It was well documented that the Aztecs had closed practices and Neuheisel and his staff didn't have any film on them.

The Bruin defense really shot themselves in the foot early. Two penalties on 3rd down, including a pass interference penalty in the end zone that gave Lindley and the Aztec a fresh set of downs, kept that first drive alive. Andrew Abbott got burned deep in nickle coverage and that lead to the 2nd touchdown.

Besides those two mistakes, the defense was stout.

There were bone crushing hits by Carter and Bosworth. Yet another ATV touchdown on a blocked field goal. The record tying three picks by Rahim Moore. All of that put the exclamation point on a dominating final 3 quarters of football.

The big news of the night, however, was the offense.

Kevin Prince looked immensely poised in that first half. I was very impressed. He connected 6 of 7 times on that first drive, including a nice shuffle pass that was negated by a holding penalty. His arm strength and accuracy are huge assets for this team and something that we haven't seen in a very long time.

In the second half, Prince reminded us that he is still a red-shirt freshman.

The two interceptions were head scratches; he threw them almost directly to the defender. The confusion could be attributed to the unconventional 3-3-5 Aztec defense. A more likely answer is that he made usual freshman-in-his-first game mistakes.

The running game looked very good. Their were some great runs by Coleman, Franklin, and Knox. The 3 youngsters were explosive.

In particular, Coleman is just a beast out there. He looks like a tank rolling down the field. The last two years he hasn't had much hype compared to the other tail backs. But every Saturday, he just comes out and gains yards for this team.

The offensive line was much, much improved. There were some nice holes for the backs and Prince actually had time to go through his progression. Of course, some of that success has to be taken with a grain of salt when you consider the level of the competition.

They did look good though. Not bad considering that 3 of those guys were making their first start in the blue and gold. It's a young line with 3 sophomores, a junior, and a true freshman making up the starting unit.

In fact, it was youth all around last night. There were tons of true and redshirt freshman on the field, especially on offense. Prince, Preselly, Breuhaut, Thigpen, Carroll, Knox, Franklin, and Su'a-Filo all saw action last night.

These guys are going to be clicking as a unit in a few years.

Definitely some great moments last night. Some glimpses of the future and the possibilities it holds.

(photo credit: ESPN)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What Day Is This?


It feels like an eternity since we last hit the gridiron; especially with no bowl game last year. I'm packin' up the BBQ, gathering up the peeps, and heading up to Pasadena in just a few hours.

It's going to be hot, it's going to be ashy, and I'm sure the air quality is going to be crap.

But man... I can't wait. =)

It feels like Christmas morning. It's finally here! It's GAME DAY!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bount Force Trauma

So I was watching a football game and a boxing match broke out. Wow, I've never seen something like what happened last night during the Oregon and Boise State game:

The Ducks got whooped last night. It was embarrassing for a team that was ranked in the top-25 coming into the season. No first downs in the first half. A baffling run call back on their own 2-yard line lead to a safety. Bad coaching, ill prepared, and no heart. I'm excited to play these guys!

Not to mention the post game activities.

I'm guessing Blount gets a 3-game suspension. *

* Editor's Note: Looks like Blount got a year-long suspension. Good for Kelly. Send a message.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fire, Fire, Go Away...

... and come again some other day. Man, these fires up in the L.A. mountains are threatening the home opener this Saturday. It looks like a decision on canceling/postponing the game will be made on Wednesday.

I don't know if I can wait another week...

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Preview: Stanford

After a bye-week, our boys head north to open PAC-10 play against the Stanford Cardinal.

The month of October will make or break the Bruin's season. They play five PAC-10 opponents who make up the bulky middle of the conference. Stanford is one of those teams, and the Cardinal could finish from 3rd to 8th and anywhere in between.


Jim Harbaugh got great news this off season when running back Toby Gerhart decided to stick with football and not enter the MLB draft. Toby was the main reasons Stanford ranked 19th nationally in rushing offense last least.

Gerhart is a beast of a running back, built like a tank and difficult to bring down. He piled up 138 yards and 2 TDs last year at the Rose Bowl. He will be defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough's #1 priority entering the game. Expect the Bruins to stack against the run and strong safety Glen Love to play a crucial support role.

Even though the Cardinal ran the ball well last year, they balanced that with a very poor passing attack. Like Neuheisel, Harbaugh has decided to put a freshman signal caller on the field this fall to try and jump start the offense. Andrew Luck has surpassed senior quarterback Travita Pritchard on the depth chart and hopes are high on the Farm that the 4-star recruit from Houston Texas will be much more productive.

Upfront, the Cardinal must replace two all-league lineman and that task won't be easy. In the off season, the coaching staff shuffled and experimented with a number of different player combination. They'll be looking for cohesion, much like UCLA's O-line, and they may not have found that chemistry when the Bruins come to town in week five.


The Cardinal are tough up front but this defense gets progressively weaker, and less experienced, in the linebacking corp and secondary.

There is little doubt that the strength of the defense is along the line. Ekom Udofia, Erik Lorig, and Sione Fua return and they'll put together a strong pass rushing attack.

It will be imperative for the UCLA offensive line to hold up in this game. If they can give Prince some time to find targets, he should find success against a suspect Cardinal secondary.

Bo McNally is the veteran of the unit at free safety but the rest of secondary isn't dependable. They do have some young talent and Delano Howell, who switched from running back to strong safety, looked good in the spring.

The linebacking corps is solid, but not exceptional, and I'm sure Norm Chow will look for his fullbacks and Tight Ends to create some mismatches here.

Special Teams

Stanford loses a consistant place kicker in Aaron Zagory who made 14 of 17 field goals last season. Travis Golia is tagged for the slot, but he's inexperienced and a missed kick in this contest could be a difference maker.

The Bottom Line

Like the game against K-State, this contest against Stanford may be a good opportunity for a young Bruin offense to shine.

Stanford returns a lot of starters and they have some young talent but there are still big question marks at quarterback and on defense.

The Farm is never an imposing place to play and UCLA has won it's last two contests there. The Bruins also have an extra week to prepare and heal up for this game.

Again, I think this will be a very close game bu tI think an improving Bruin offense takes off and puts this one into the win column.

Friday, August 7, 2009

2009 Preview: Kansas State

The Bruins round out their non-conference schedule with a visit from the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams are in rebuilding mode and the outcome of this game will be a key indicator of the progress of each program.

Bill Snyder returns to the University, and the coaching ranks, after retiring in 2005. He made some headlines for immediately trying to get the Wildcats out of their scheduled game with UCLA.


Like many teams in the Big-12, Kansas State was able to rack up a lot of yards and points on offense. They accomplished that with the help of quarterback Josh Freeman, who was a first round NFL draft pick.

His backup, Carson Coffman, takes over the reigns this season. He's a typical drop-back, pocket passer but he'll be asked to run some option this season. He hasn't seen any significant action in his 3 seasons at Kansas State and he could be rattled by a blitzing and aggressive UCLA defense. I expect Bullough to turn up the pressure early.

The offensive line loses 3 starters from last year's squad, but like UCLA, the Wildcats have some young talent that could push for playing time early. The battle between the Cat's O-line and the Bruins D-line will be the most interesting battle for the day.

The Cat's were prolific through the air last season and they return some very talented receivers. Senior Brandon Banks chalk up over 1000 yards last season will be a go-to target. He's joined by Lamark Brown, who played running back in 2008, but the 6'3" Brown is a natural receiver. I'm expecting Alteraun Verner and Aaron Hester to have their hands full.

Kansas State's offense, which ranked 19th nationally last season, will have their hands full with a tough UCLA defense. I don't expect the Bruins to dominate, but at the same time, the Cat's won't be scoring left-and-right either.


On the flip side of the ball, the Cats have a defense looking to rebound from a very poor 2008 campaign.

One bright spot was the play of freshman All American Brandon Harold. He racked up 10.5 tackles for loss from the defensive end position. Measuring 6'6" and 264 lb, this bohemith athlete will be a handful for whichever Bruin tackle has to take him on.

The rest of the line isn't that imposing and I'm sure Neuheisel will look to run right up the middle against this unit. The Cat's gave up 217 yards/game on the ground last year.

Corner Joshua Moore and Free Safety Tysyn Hartman both had strong seasons in 2008. Hartman moved to the defense from quarterback part way through the year, so he'll be much improved with a lot of additional practice at the position.

The rest of the secondary is up for grabs and Snyder may be forced to play some inexperienced freshman early. I'm thinking that Kevin Prince could find some success passing in this game. We could also see some of the incoming freshman skill players, like Pressley or Carroll, have a break out game.

The Bottom Line

This game will be decided either by UCLA's defense or K-State's offense. Both have some question marks entering the season but they also have some stars as well. Whoever wins the battle in the trenches will likely carry the day.

Even though Snyder has a ton of coaching experience, it will still be a rebuilding process for this team. They'll be learning a new offense, with a new QB, and on the road against their first real test of the season.

I like the Bruins in this game, but I think it could be very close.

Fun Fact

Bill Snyder is such an icon at Kansas State that the football stadium is named after him. Snyder's first coaching position was with the Trojans back in 1966. He's one of five coaches on UCLA's schedule this season (Snyder, Carroll, Sarkasian, Riley, Kiffin) who have coached at USC.

(photo credit:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009 Preview: Tennessee

After the season opener against San Diego State, the Bruins travel east for a showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers in the heart of SEC country.

Lane Kiffin takes over the reigns of a Tennessee team that had one of the worst seasons of the past two decade. He stirred up some controversy this off season, but he also landed some great talent in
Knoxville. You can expect Kiffin to get his team fired up for some payback after a prime time loss to the Bruins last year.


In last year's game, the Volunteers struggled to move the ball with their inconsistent junior quarterback. This year, Johnathan Crompton is an experienced senior and his results on the field should be much better.

The receiving corps had a few guys dinged up this summer, but the majority of the starters should be ready to go for this game. I'm not too worried about them challenging our secondary, but expect Tennessee to throw away from Verner and pick on freshman Aaron Hester.

Even with an improved passing game, the Volunteers will likely lean on their running backs this season. Aaron Foster is gone to graduation, but they return their 2nd string tail back, Montario Hardesty, who scored both touchdowns against the Bruins last year. The Volunteers have a stable of young, talented backs after Hardesty, including freshman phenom Bryce Brown.

Whoever gets the rock will have an experienced, senior-laden offensive line to run behind. The Volunteers return four of the big guys up front. UCLA's defensive line will be severely challenged in this game and it will be up to Brian Price and the linebacking corps to step up big.

Why this Volunteer team didn't run, run, run last year at the Rose Bowl is still a mystery to me. They did well on the ground collecting 177 yards and two scores. You can bet that the new coaching staff will focus more on the ground game this time around.


Last year, in the Rose Bowl, the Volunteer defense went into prevent mode with a few minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. Like the old expression goes, the only thing that prevented was victory. Expect new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to bring a much more aggressive and attacking game plan in this rematch.

It is a huge understatement to say that Kevin Prince will be going into the lion's den at Neyland Stadium. One Hundred Thousand orange clad fans will greet this kid on his first college road game ever.

Chow and Neuheisel will try to establish a running game early to take some pressure of the freshman. That won't be easy against a Volunteer defense that ranked 12th in the nation last season against the run. Like the Bruins, Tennessee has some depth concerns along their defensive line, but that should not be an issue when UCLA comes to town in early September.

One player that Prince will try to avoid every play is All American free safety Eric Berry. He was the SEC defensive player of the year last season and is close to setting an NCAA record for interception return yards. The rest of the secondary is talented as well and the Bruins will not want to test this unit very often.

Special Teams

Missed field goals doomed the Vols last year. Place kicker
Daniel Lincoln returns and I'm sure he's worked on his accuracy in the offseason.

Berry is so talented, he could return punts and kicks this season.

The Bottom Line

The Volunteers are in their first year under an entirely new coaching staff and scheme. UCLA will be their first real test of the season and they will likely have some hickups.

However, it will take an immense effort from Kevin Prince and the offense to win this one. It might be too much for ask so early in the season.

The last PAC-10 team to visit Nashville got embarrassed. I think the Bruins will do much better but I don't see this one ending in victory.

Interesting Fact

This season, UCLA is playing it's two most common non-conference foes. This will be the 14th meeting of the Volunteers and Bruins, second only to week one opponent San Diego State who the Bruins will be playing for the 22nd time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

2009 Preview: San Diego State

First up for the Bruins this year is a rebuilding San Deigo State program. Fresh off the hire of Ball State's Brady Hoke (who went 12-2 last season with the Cardinals), the Aztecs have a long way to go before they'll compete with the best of the Mountain West Conference. Which isn't to say they won't be a good test for the Bruins. This is a team that could throw a wrench into UCLA's game plan for 2009.


The strength of the Aztec's offense will be it's passing attack. Ryan Lindley showed a lot of promise last season as a freshman. His 16 touchdowns and 2,650 yards last season were impressive. He'll have the services of a number of talented receivers. The Aztecs return three starters from last season including Vincent Brown (the leading receiver) and add senior DeMarco Sampson who had a strong spring.

UCLA's secondary should be up to the challenge of containing the Aztec's passing game. Verner doesn't need much help, so Moore can backup Hester. I could see Bullough utilizing a nickle defense at times and asking his front four to put pressure on Lindley.

One big problem, historically, for San Diego State has been a lack of strong, physical play. Last year, the offensive line took a beating and the running game was one of the worst in the country. Hoke stressed mental toughness during the spring, but I don't think this Aztec team will be entirely remade by the Fall.

They have experience at tail back, but senor Atiyyah Henderson isn't a big back and not much of a threat. He only put up 490 yards last season and his teammate Brandon Sullivan was no better. Bozworth, Ayers and Carter shouldn't have much trouble containing the backs and forcing the Aztecs to have to pass for first downs.


The Aztec defense was pretty bad last season, giving up a ton of yards and points in a very strong MWC. New defensive coordinator, and former New Mexico head coach, Rocky Long should give them an instant shot of confidence and inject some more toughness.

The Aztecs return pretty much their entire front 7. They weren't very good at stopping the run last year, nor were they good at getting after the quarterback. That should play well for UCLA, as Chow would probably prefer to take some of the pressure of of Prince in his first start by running the ball down SDSU's throat.

The Aztecs do have a good linebacker in Luke Laolagi who had almost 100 tackles last season.

Long will be installing his signature 3-3-5 defense. That will likely be a challenge for the Aztecs to execute in their first few games. Not only is it a brand new scheme, but they only return 1 player, Aaron Moore, in the secondary.

The 3-3-5 should allow UCLA to run fairly well, but it's a tricky defense to play against as a quarterback. The extra defensive back will likely be a big challenge for Prince. Ben Olsen struggled mightly against Rice in 2006, which also employed a similar defensive scheme. The other big downside is that the Bruin's won't face a similar defense all season, so the this is a one-time learning experience for Kevin.

Special Teams

Both punter Brian Stahovich and place kicker Lane Yoshida return. They were solid, though not spectacular, last season. Wide receiver Mekell Wesley is back to handle punt returns duties.

The Bottom Line

With superior talent, home field advantage, and an extra year with their scheme, the Bruin should have the advantage at the Rose Bowl. I'm not expecting the UCLA offense to run away with the game early, so a costly fumble or interception could keep SDSU in this one. At the end of the day, this should be a Bruin victory.

Interesting Facts

SDSU has a number of connections to UCLA. Kevin Craft was their former quarterback and his dad, Tom Craft, was their coach. Both Aztec Coordinators, Rocky Long and Al Borges, were former coordinators at UCLA. Borges was the OC under Bob Toldeo (1996-2000) and helped direct some of the best offenses in Bruin history. Rocky Long was the DC under Toldeo (1996-1997) and is considered one of the better coordinators of that era of UCLA football.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Speaking of Medlock

Here's an interesting article from the Toronto Star about former UCLA kicker Justin Medlock. He's starting now for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

Friday, July 24, 2009

2009 Preview: UCLA Special Teams

Once again the Bruins will field a very good special teams unit that will be one of the best in the conference.

Special Teams

You know, there was a time when UCLA was known for producing great safeties and even greater quarterbacks. These days, kickers come out of Westwood. So much so, you could could start calling the school Kicker-U. A few years back when the student store was selling #7 jerseys, I wasn't sure if that was for Ben Olsen or Justin Medlock.

This season is no different, with junior place kicker Kai Forbath earning pre-season All American honors by many publications. He is almost a lock on long distance kicks, hitting all 6 of his attempts from beyond 50 yards out. In any close contests, Forbath could be UCLA's ace in the hole.

The last two seasons, Jimmy Rotstein was on the kick-off team and the Bruins were not very good at pinning opponents on their end of the field. The team ranked last in the conference in that category and a lot of that came from Rotstein not getting the ball deep on kickoffs. Forbath reportedly hasn't been consistent on kick-offs in practice but he has a big leg, so if he can find some focus, the Bruins will get much better in this area.

Terrance Austin set the school record for kick-off return yards last season. Austin has been a dynamic return specialist but for some reason he has never taken one to the house. Even on punt returns, he's made his way inside the 10 on a number of occasions but he has never sealed the deal. I think this is the year that Austin breaks that barrier and I see him putting up All American numbers on returns.

The one big unknown this season is the punting game. Aaron Perez had a great career for the Bruins and his big leg lead the league in punting average last season. Jeff Locke takes over this season and reports are that he has an even stronger leg. He'll be making his first start this season and I'm sure it will take a while for him to find the consistency that Perez had as a senior.

UCLA was a middle of the pack team in punt returns. Austin didn't have any big returns but the team did block a few punts and added a couple of touchdowns. The offense will need as much help as it can get this season, so some big returns or a timely block could jump start a drive.

The Bottom Line

Special teams has been one of the few bright spots over the last decade of UCLA football. This season should bring more of the same and the strong kicking and return games could give the Bruins a few more victories this year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Surprise Commitment

UCLA got a huge, and surprise, commitment from one of the top linebackers in the country. Eastlake high school linebacker / running back Tony Jefferson gave a verbal to the coaching staff last night.

Last year Jefferson had 88 tackles and 4 sacks while also rushing for 1,328 yards and 28 touchdowns on offense.

Tony had an impressive list of offers from BCS schools in the SEC, PAC-10, Big-10, ACC, Big-12, and Notre Dame. When UCLA is beating out Florida, USC, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Miami for a recruit, you got to feel a little excited

He was originally committed to Stanford, but switched to the Bruins.

Jefferson will likely come in as either a strong safety or an outside linebacker. He is currently listed at 6'0" and 195 lbs. How much size he can add to that frame will swing him one way or another. In any case he has good speed, so he could be successful at either position.

(Photo Credit: Union Tribune)

2009 Preview: UCLA Defense

The strength of this team will again be on the defensive side of the ball.

The Bruins have relied on their defense to win games over the last few years and this season should be no different. This may be one of the most balanced and consistent squads to wear the blue and gold in recent memory.

There are star athletes at all three defensive levels and some of these guys will be playing on Sundays in the future. The big problem is a lack of depth and pash rush from the ends.


Chuck Bullough takes over for the departed Dewayne Walker but the defensive play calling should be similar. Some have said that Bullough is a bit more conservative than the aggressive, blitzing Walker but only time will prove that out.

The biggest threat up front is Brian Price. He'll again be asked to do a bit of everything this season: placing pressure on the quarterback as well as stopping anyone coming up the middle. His quick first step and immense physical abilities will draw instant double teams.

The rest of the defensive tackle depth is a big concern. Jerzy Siewierski will lineup next to Price and the strong 290 lb senior can hold his own but after that UCLA is scary thin up front.

The defensive ends will likely see a rotation with Jones, Stokes, Bosworth, and Holmes. None of them have really emerged as a serious pass rushing threat, though I think Boswoth should be in the backfield with some consistency this season. One of these guys will need to step up and help take the pressure off of Price.

I think this might be one of the more athletic linebacking corps at UCLA in recent years. Reggie Carter is the big name in the middle, but I could see Akeem Ayers getting some press this season as well. He had a breakout true-freshman season in 2008 and that success should continue on this year. Senior Kyle Bosworth is back from injury and will anchor the other outside slot.

Depth is a concearn among the linebackers as well, with virtually no proven experience nor size among the backups.

The secondary has some talented young guys, but the biggest worry for opposing quarterbacks will again be senior cornerback Alterraun Verner. Despite being kind of short ( a generous 5'11" on the official site) and not the most athletic guy, Verner is one dang smart player. A true student athlete, and student of the game, he'll lead the secondary and lock down his side of the field as well.

Across from Verner will be red-shirt freshman Aaron Hester. He had an impressive spring and wow'd the coaches and fans with his big plays and toughness. He'll get picked on early by opposing quarterbacks, so the young corner from Compton will need to grow up quickly.

Rahim Moore is back for another year at free safety and he is sure to start every game he'll ever play at UCLA. Next to him will be Glenn Love. The tall, hard hitting sophomore has always been a favorite of mine and he'll be called upon in run support. He probably would have played more in the past but injuries have slowed him down.

The Bottom Line

UCLA's first string defense looks pretty good. Price, Carter, and Verner are all pre-season all-team selections. If this group can stay healthy and find a play maker, or two, at defensive end then they should do very well this year. The secondary is young but talented and they have the potential to be truly awesome by the end of the year.

The big problem is depth, especially at defensive tackle. Heaven help us if Brian Price or Jerzey Siewierski go down with injury. There isn't a lot of help at linebacker either. The lack of depth also means this team will run out of gas in games unless the offense can carry some of the load. That's never a sure thing with the Bruins.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Preview: UCLA Offense

This will be the first of a three part series looking at the 2009 UCLA Bruins.

It's that time of year again. Arm chair analysts are out in force giving their predictions for the up coming college football season. Let me tell you, those guys don't know spit about UCLA football. They write about a hundred articles (one for every team) and I'd guess not a single one of them watched the Bruins play last year; not to mention a practice or the spring scrimmages.

That's why I like to write up my analysis of the Bruins. I may not be the most knowledgeable guy nor the best writer, but I do follow this team closely and I know how they stack up against the rest of the conference. Check in over the next month as I take an in-depth look at the Bruins and each of our opponents as well.


UCLA has an unproven quarterback. Again. The offensive line is full of inexperienced and undersized players. Again. There aren't any guys in the skill positions who can take over a game. Again. On paper, this offense isn't a whole lot different from other squads over the last three years and it is very unlikely they will take this team to the top of the conference.

What is different this season is that we have some young, skilled guys in key positions.

Most notably red shirt freshman Kevin Prince. Repeat after me: Prince is the key to the season, Prince is the key to the season, Prince is the key to the season. It really can't be stated too many times. Prince's development will go hand-in-hand with the team's ability to win.

Even though Prince is playing his first football game in nearly 3 years (he missed his entire senior season at Crespi due to injury) he brings a lot to the table. Most importantly, he is a smart player who has a firm grasp on Chow's offense. If Prince can avoid the mind-numbingly horrible decisions that Craft made last season then he'll be a huge improvement. He also seems to be a capable game manager, accurate, and mature for his age.

Of course, he's still a freshman who will make freshman mistakes. In particular, an early season game at Neyland Stadium will test his mental toughness. I'm not expecting miracles from this kid, but I do think we'll be pleased with his progress by year end.

The offensive line will also be getting some fresh faces. I fully expect talented freshman Xavier Su'a-Filo and junior college transfer Ryan Taylor to be starting on the line by the end of the season. Sophomore Jeff Baca looks to have locked up a position with his determined play last year; the staff wants him at guard but he could play tackle again if other guys don't pan out.

The center position will be anchored by Kai Maiava, who should be back from an ankle sprain sustained at the end of spring ball. Maiava had rave reviews from the bleacher bums who watched him while he sat out last season. He's reportedly tough, angry, and aggressive ... everything you want in a center.

The rest of the line, in particular the 2-deep, isn't going to scare opponents. The best I think we could hope for is to find a consistent starting 5 players. Last season, the line was shuffled so many times I lost count. They won't be a particularly good squad, especially at the start of the season, but I think we'll again be pleased with the progress come December.

The running game is still a work in progress.

The staff really likes Christian Ramirez. So much so that he sat our all of the spring with an injury and still hung onto the #1 spot. Either Ramirez is that good or the rest of the guys are just that bad. I'm going to go with the former, as I watched all the backs in the spring and came away impressed. Especially freshman Jonathan Franklin, I think he could take over the starting slot with his speed and ability to find the hole.

Chane Moline is moving to fullback to complement Trevor Theriot. Chow likes using his backs as receiving targets, so I think both could see more action this year.

The receiving corps has the most depth and consistency on the team, which is good because almost every other position lacks those characteristics.

The star, if you could call him that, will be Terrance Austin. Back from a record setting performance last year in all-around yards, Austin should take on more of a role in the passing game. His speed has always been there, but he doesn't seem to get great separation. Of course, it would help if he could team up with a quarterback who could throw him a deep ball.

I like our big, tall targets. Nelson Rosario and Gavin Ketchum are both 6'4" and give Prince some jump ball opportunities in the end zone. Taylor Embree will again be the bastion of consistency. His super sticky hands are turning him into a go-to guy on 3rd down situations. Freshman Randol Carroll could end up being the fastest player on the team.

One guy I'm really excited about is Morrell Presley. He was probably one of the hardest workers on offense this spring. He went 100 miles an hour every play, even when he was making mistakes. I looks like a combo of J.J. Stokes and Marcedes Lewis. Not a true tight end, he'll line up as an H-back this season. I'm expecting big things from him.

The rest of the tight end picture is unclear right now. If Moya and Paulsen can stay healthy then they'll be huge additions to this team. If not then we could lack some depth with only Harkey having any playing experience.

The Bottom Line

Let's face it, this is part 2 of Neuheisel's rebuilding process. This team isn't going to win a ton of games this year, even with a more favorable schedule (I'll get to that in future articles about our opponents), and the offense will struggle again.

But the good news is that we've got a lot young guys who will be racking up a ton of experience this season. It wouldn't surprise me if the offense was staring as many as 6 underclassman by the end of the season. All of that is great for the future of the program.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Former ND TE Transfers to UCLA

The Bruins picked up another commit yesterday, this one coming from Notre Dame. Not the high school... the University. Tight End Joseph Fauria has decided to transfer to Westwood. He's a big target, standing in at 6'7", and a big pickup for the Bruins.

Fauria was originally recruited by UCLA last season, but ultimately chose the Fighting Irish over the Bruins. Now, the tables are reversed, and he's leaving Notre Dame to come back closer to home. The former Crespi standout will be eligible to suit up on Saturdays for the Bruins starting in 2010.

There were some rumors around why Joe decided to leave South Bend. Hopefully he wasn't an academic causality. I'm guessing that wasn't the case if he got into UCLA. One thing not in doubt was that the Irish were stacked deep at tight end. Even with some of the top talent in the country, Fauria was 2nd string and looking at some playing time in 2009. Why he decided to leave isn't entirely clear to me, but whatever the reason, I'm glad he chose Westwood as his new home.

Fauria is a much needed addition to the team. We lose Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya after this season and depth at tight end could be a problem. Harkey has looked good, but Nate Chandler (who's bumped around from TE to OT) is an unknown quantity. At the very least, Fauria gives some depth and hopefully he can break out and give the Bruins a big target between the seems.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Earnest Thomas III

UCLA's recruiting efforts out of the state are paying off. On Wedensday, the Bruins picked up a verbal from Michigan Safety Earnest Thomas III. The kid is big, at 6'2" and 210 lbs. He could morph into an outside linebacker if he adds more weight to his frame, which I think he could without too much effort.

Even though the recruiting services only have him as a 3-star, Thomas had offers from a number big-time BCS programs. He was being pursued by Stanford, Missouri, Wisconsin, Penn State, and West Virginia. Ultimately he chose UCLA and one of the reasons may have been family members who live in the south land.

This commitment is a good sign for the program. UCLA has not had any kind of national presence in recent years and this recruiting season. Already this season, two of our five commitments are from outside of California and the three in-state commits are all from up North. It's cool to see us beating out a different set of schools instead of the same old PAC-10 and Mountain West schools that we battle every year. The Bruins are always going to get the bulk of their kids from Southern California but picking up some stars from other areas is encouraging.

From watching his video, he definitely looks like an aggressive, physical, hard hitting strong safety. He kind of reminds me of Horton.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The kid does it all

In addition to being a stellar student, finance intern, and all conference defense back, Alteraun Verner writes for the ucla blog. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brett Nottingham 2010 QB

It's been a while since I wrote up one of these recruiting posts, but I felt inspired this morning. One of the reasons is that the UCLA recruiting drought ( a few weeks ago we had no commitments for the 2010 class ) looks like it is finally over; The Bruins have four commits with two coming in the last 24 hours. The other reason is that Chow and Neuheisel picked up a QB and it's hard to not get excited about the most important position on the field; especially one where the Bruins need serious help.

The guy they picked up is none other than Brett Nottingham from Monte Vista High School (Bay Area). By most accounts he isn't the most super, spectacular quarterback in the nation. But he seems to be a solid, mature, and accurate passer. He doesn't have a big arm, but he looks ready to start playing at the D1-A level next season.

Nottingham is a smart quarterback and student, as evidenced by his 70% completion percentage as a Junior and a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. He had offers from Stanford, Colorado, and some MWC schools. He ultimately was drawn to UCLA because of family ties (his dad and two older sisters are Bruins).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Or Vice Versa

Got to love the sweet irony that is USC basketball. Just a few months ago, Arizona was looking to hire Floyd to replace O'neill. Now SC is hiring O'neill to replace Floyd.

Not that it matters much. With veteran players bailing before the sanctions are levied and every single recruit jumping ship, SC basketball has received a virtual death penalty without the NCAA lifting a finger. I heard they may only have 9 scholarship players for this season.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tim Floyd Tips Well!

Tim Floyd gave money to O.J Mayo's agent as a "thank you" for delivering Mayo to USC... allegedly.




I hope with all my heart and soul that this is true.

Because this is what the death penalty was made for.


Renaissance Man

Remember when Brian Price lined up at full back last season? The results weren't always pretty, but one thing was evident: Brian Price is a dynamic football player. It looks like the coaches are trying to capitalize on Price's NFL talent by giving him some reps at another position as well.

According to the OC Register, Brian Price will see some action at defensive end. He is so quick and strong, I could see Price really creating some havock doing that. It will also run afoul the plans of offensive coordinators who will undoubtedly being looking to double team the Bruins best defensive player.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rivalry Recession

Remember the good old days? You know, way back in 2008, when cars were still made in Detroit and Rick Neuheisel was the newly minted head coach in Westwood. People were excited back then and, dare I say it, optimistic.

Even though the Bruins had lost eight of their last nine games against the Trojans, there was talk that things would be changing. Some even had the audacity to believe that the days of Pete Carroll's football empire were numbered. The once dead rivalry between UCLA and USC was about to be resurrected and Neuheisel was poised to put the Bruins back on top.

Then the season started.

After watching eight losses, a school-record twenty interceptions, and a parade of overwhelmed offensive lineman, one thing became perfectly clear... Neuheisel and the Bruins were a long way from challenging USC for conference supremacy. A very long way.

The other truth was that Karl Dorrell had left the cupboard bare. UCLA was short on size, speed, and athleticism and even a dream team of assistant coaches wasn't going to turn the ship around in one season.

Not that any of this should surprise anyone who has been paying attention the last few years.

Pete Carroll has been not-so-quietly amassing a collection of all star players over at USC. When you land a top-5 recruiting class year after year, it's kind of hard not to dominate everyone in your path.

During that same time, the football program in Westwood was content to let Carroll pick the creme of the crop from southland high schools, hoping to scoop up the leftovers.

The complete trouncing that the Bruins received this past December at the hands of the Trojans pretty much sums up the state of the rivalry at that point. Outmatched, under sized, and overwhelmed, the boys in blue never really had a chance to win.

If that wasn't bad enough, the exclamation point came a few months later when eleven USC players were taken in the NFL draft. Not a single UCLA player was chosen... not even the punter.

Amidst all of this doom and gloom, there are some signs of recovery. The Bruins last two recruiting classes have been head-and-shoulders above their predecessors.

Last year's freshman and the new arrivals this fall should inject some much needed talent into the program. Impact players like Rahim Moore, Derrick Coleman, and Jeff Baca have already claimed starting roles. Redshirt freshman Kevin Prince has been named the starting quarterback and some very talented offensive lineman will be arriving this August.

In fact, I expect over half of UCLA's starters on offense to be underclassman this year.

Neuheisel has finally brought a little competition back to the recruiting trail as well. He managed to steal some of Carroll's thunder this past February when he convinced two highly regarded USC recruits to switch their allegiance to UCLA.

Wide receiver Randall Carroll and H-back Morrell Presley were much needed additions to the latest Bruins class. Presley has already impressed the coaches this spring with his intensity and Carroll is one of the fastest high school seniors in the state. Both have the potential to be big time play makers.

The Bruins will continue to rebuild this season while the Trojans reload with another round of Parade All Americans. The results on the gridiron may not be markedly different from last year but give it some time. Like declining global economies, football programs take a while to turn around.

If anyone is going to bring life back to this rivalry it is Rick Neuheisel and all he needs is a few more stocked recruiting classes. Well, that or an NFL program with lots of money, no head coach, and Pete Carroll's cell phone number. Whichever comes first.

More Transfers Coming?

Message boards were chattering yesterday with rumors of more transfers coming. According to one poster:

Another top running back--will surprise a lot of people, several linemen, and a top young linebacker [will transfer].

it's not a group defection so each player will announce as he finalizes details. There are seven guys that I have names for--but I got this information from some active FB guys and they asked me not to mention any names until the young men decide to make it public--I'm guessing they need to tell their relatives and such--and perhaps in a couple of the cases determine final destinations. What was stunning to me was not the bulk of them--these made perfect sense when you look at the most talented new recruits and the guys who most struggled--what stunned was that two of the guys "seemed" to have bright futures-

Hard to say if there is any validity to this information, but we do know that at least a few more players must be off of scholarship for UCLA to be within the NCAA mandated 85 scholarship limit. So some guys will likely be encouraged to transfer.

We should hear some announcement soon.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Incoming freshman wide receiver Randall Carroll ran the 100 meters in 10.30 seconds on Thursday night. That was the third fastest legal time in California Prep history. Awesome

(HT to Harborhighbruin at BRO)

Carroll in a preliminary race

On the Topic of Transfers

UCLA isn't the only team with players on the move. Tennessee has already had 11 players leave since Lane Kiffin was made the head coach.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


With UCLA well over the scholarship limit of 85 players, transfers are in the works. It looks like the following four players are likely to transfer this Spring:

Chris Forcier (QB)
Raymond Carter (RB)
Aundre Dean (RB)
Dominique Johnson (WR)

Of the four, Johnson was the most surprising for me. I thought he had some great moments and made some amazing catches in the blue and gold. His biggest highlight was that amazing one-handed TD pass against USC in 2007. His commitment and work ethic were questioned a lot last year and during the Dorrell era. The coaches probably wanted to give his reps to some of the new players like Presley and Carroll. What's strange is that his number of receptions went up from his first year, so he was playing more last season.

The other guys kind of make sense. Carter and Dean are stuck in the log jam at running back. Especially for Carter, because he has a number of freshman ahead of him on the depth chart. Likewise, Forcier was never going to see the field at QB. His switch to wide receiver this spring didn't seem to be something he was happy about.

Friday, May 1, 2009

UCLA vs USC Spring Game Stats

The offensive statistics for UCLA were not very good for the spring game. To some extent, you expect your defense to be ahead of your offense at this point in the process. I thought I would do a quick comparison between the Bruin's offensive numbers and the Trojan's offensive numbers from this last week end and see how they stacked up.



Aaron Corp 14-23 157 yds 1 TD 0 INT
Matt Barkley 12-20 124 yds 0 TD 2 INT
Mitch Mustain 7-12 85 yds 0 TD 1 INT


Marc Tyler 7 44 yds
C.J. Gable 5 53 yds
Curtis McNeal 8 7 yds
Corp 5 18 yds


Prince 11-24 134 yds 1 TD 1 INT
Brehaut 7-14 47 yds 1 TD 0 INT
Craft 0-5 0 yds 0 TD 0 INT


Knox 8 44 yds
Dean 5 33 yds
Carter 9 33 yds
Coleman 7 14 yds
Franklin 5 11 yds

The numbers are pretty similar. UCLA ran the ball more and USC passed more, but there isn't that much difference in total output. The Trojans seemed to get more yards per attempt in their passing game, but that came at the expense of a few extra interceptions. Their starting players seemed to be more productive, but UCLA's backups had slightly better numbers.

All in all, it's hard to put much weight behind spring game statistics. The offense is vanilla, you have first, second, and thrid string guys on defense on any given play, and lots of drives are situational. So, nothing to get too worried about in the Bruins offensive production. Now, when fall rolls around, it is a different story.

Prince was the Right Decision

Well, it should come as a surprise to nobody that Prince was named the starter. He was taking the lion's share of the reps all spring. I think this is a great move by Neuheisel. UCLA now has a starting freshman quarterback with 4 years of eligibility left. Behind him is a true freshman quarterback with 5 years left. This will give these guys time to grow and develop in the system and give the Bruins stability at the position. There will be growing pains this year and likely into the 2010 season as well. But that kind of investment will start paying big dividends down the road.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Game: Progress?

It was a chilly night out at the Rose Bowl. Not only were the fans a bit cold, but so was the offense; at least when it was running against the first string defense. But as the night progressed, the QBs started heating up, the running game thawed out a bit, and the fans left with some glimmers of hope for the 2009 season.

Let me just say that spring games at the Rose Bowl are awesome. That is one of the many great things that coach Neuheisel has brought to the program since he returned to Westwood. The other thing is getting former players and coaches involved. They were out there last night: Bruce Davis, Terry Donahue, Dick Vermeil, and Jerry Robinson. They were interviewed by Wayne Cook during breaks in the action and even coach Neuheisel was "wired up" and talked to the fans when the players were getting instructions on the next series.

Just like the last scrimmage, the offense came out and immediately got a first down on their first series. Coleman looked solid in those first few plays and the offense was downright nimble. That was the first three plays. After that the offense got pummeled by the defense. Dropped passes, defensive lineman in the backfield, and a running game that was going nowhere. Verner even picked off Prince to end his first drive.

Once the first string defense was on the bench, the tide started to turn. Johnathan Franklin provided one of the first sparks, by getting a nice screen pass from a scrambling Prince. If it were live action and the quarterbacks were allowed to be hit, I'm not sure if Kevin would have got the pass away. But it was still a nice pass and Franklin rambled down the field deep into the red zone. He came back out on another series and put the ball into the end zone for the first score of the evening. Later in the scrimmage he had another big run on a similar screen pass.

Dean and Knox also put together some nice runs. Dean has some power and on one memorable run he ran over a defender at the line of scrimmage; at first I thought it was going to be a short gain, but he managed to stay on his feet and ramble forward for another 10 yards. Knox, again, did his best Mo Drew impression. Bouncing off of guys and exploding through the line.

I'm sorry to say that Raymond Carter was not impressive. I think he only had one or two nice runs. The rest were him scrambling to the outside for a short gain. He had a fumble that was lost and he tends to go down on first contact. I don't think he's ever come back 100% from his knee surgery and I'm pretty sure the freshman backs are going to pass him up on the depth chart.

The quarterbacks got clicking as the night progressed. Prince started completing a number of passes in this spread, multiple receiver set. He had a great pass to Austin on a play where he rolled out to his right. It looked like everyone was covered but he found Austin on a 30 yard pass. Terrance came back to help out his QB and I thought it was a great connection for both players. Brehaut also had some good connections and some quick runs. Like Prince, he really struggled early but he found some success and put together a few good drives.

Kevin Craft just doesn't get it. He comes in for his first play of his first series and makes this ridiculous, ill advised shovel pass toward Presley on a broken play. Instead of just tucking the ball and running for a couple of yards, he makes this pass which had almost no chance of being completed and every chance of being intercepted. He was immediately benched and only came back at the very end of the night.

Besides Austin, the receivers were not very good today. There were a lot of dropped passes. Only at the end, when the 3rd string defense was in there, were guys consistently hanging onto the ball. I don't remember any of the TE making any big plays. Even Presley, who has had a big spring, made some drops and ran some routes wrong. This group, as a whole, really needs to step up. I would say that the best catches of the evening were made by the running backs.

The defense as a whole looked really sharp. Reggie Carter made a huge hit in the middle of the scrimmage that got the crowd oohing and awwing. Brian Price did his usual thing and I think he got two or three sacks. I counted four fumbles that the defense recovered, two of which were forced. The secondary was hawking the ball and absolutely swarming the offense. I'm sure much of that is the familiarity of the defense with the offensive game plan.

There was virtually no special teams play because Frank Gantz Jr. was visiting his ailing father. The only play was a field goal attempt that I believe was partially blocked. The special teams play during scrimmages is always really boring because they don't have live tackling... so I didn't miss it.

It was a fun game and I had a great time. I don't know if I saw anything entirely different from the week prior. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from the offense because so many guys were out with injury. The offensive line will be entirely reformed in the fall with the new guys and Maiva back in the lineup. Prince showed some flashes of being a good QB, but also struggled as a true freshman. A summer to polish up on the play book and work on timing will help these guys and I'm hoping for some big improvements come August.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Practice Adendum.. QB Edition

One additional thing about the practice. On both of Prince's two interceptions, he tried to force the pass. On both plays he was forced out of the pocket (something that happened a lot during the scrimmage). As he rolled out, all of his receivers were well covered. Prince, being a competitor and a freshman, tried to make something out of nothing. Both times, I called out "throw it away" and both times he was picked. That's a lesson he'll learn as he gets more experience under his belt. Love the effort though.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Second Scrimmage of the Spring

So I finally got out to Spaulding field today. I was standing in the south parking lot with a number of other Bruin fans and we had a front-and-center view of the action. It was a tough evening for the offense and probably our best lineman went down with injury. A sign of things to come or merely growing pains for a young team? I sure hope it is the later.

I saw Kevin Prince for the first time tonight and came away impressed. During the warm-ups and 7-7's he definitely had the most "zip" to his passes. His passes got to the receiver fast, were accurate, and he has the best throwing motion of all the guys out there. He can throw the ball down field too as his arm strength is better than any UCLA quarterback in recent memory.

Brehaut looks like he has a lot of potential as well. He isn't as polished as Prince, but I think he can scramble better and is a bit more athletic. He was mainly running with the second team during the scrimmage so it is hard to judge how well he would preform against a tougher defense. But I liked the way he played and he's a real competitor.

Kevin Craft had a tough day. After Prince and Breahaut took the first two series, Craft was given a chance to run the offense. His first throw was picked off. This of course elicited a round of groans from us fans standing on the parking structure. He was immediately yanked from the field but got back out there later in the scrimmage. Right away, his second pass was almost picked off and would have been intercepted if the defender had hung onto the ball. I think Kevin pretty much confirmed that he won't be seeing the field this season.

The passing game was not good today. Not good at all. There were three or four balls batted down. Receivers were dropping passes. The quarterbacks, as a group, were really struggling. Prince, who looked really sharp in the warm-ups and 7-7's, ended up throwing two late interceptions. The pass protection was poor and that surely didn't help. I counted at least 5 sacks.

On the other side was the running game. Which I thought was pretty good. What really impressed me was the three freshman: Knox, Dean, and Franklin.

Franklin, who got reps with the 1st and 2nd string offense, is a quick dude. He cranked out a couple of really nice runs and he looked explosive getting through the holes. He really fights hard for those extra yards and I like him a lot. I think he could see some significant minutes this season.

Dean really showed some of that raw talent that intrigued us fans during his recruitment. He was a tough runner tonight as he bulldozed his way through the line. He carried the team forward during one of his series and punched the ball into the end zone for touch down. It was good to see him get some success on the field.

I finally got to see Knox play in a UCLA uniform. Man, it is hard not to think of Mo Drew when you see him. He looks so much like him. He even runs like Maurice, and he pin-balled out of a pile on one play and bounced it to the outside for a gain instead of a loss. He was tough to bring down, all be it with the 3rd string defense, and he had probably the flashiest runs of the day.

The receivers didn't have too many great plays tonight. Seeing Presely for the first time was fun. That guy is skinny as a rake but you can see that he has huge upside. He was running with the 1st string for much of the practice and had some nice receptions during the 7-on7's. Chris Forcier got out there a bit and even caught a TD pass from Craft; he made a nice move and juked the defender out of his socks. He has great speed and it would be great to see him out on the field in some way. The players must feel the same way as everyone went out of their way to congratulate him after the TD reception.

I have to say I didn't focus much on the defense. They played well, as you would expect. One interesting thing was Andrew Abbott(#26) ended up getting two late interceptions on Prince. I had to go look him up because I didn't recognize his number. He played well today as I think he broke up at least one other play. Maybe he'll see the field this season?

Another interesting play was on a run by Knox. He ran into a pile, bounced around, and ran back a few yards and to his left. He had nothing but open field in the flat and some blockers to guide the way. Knox is a fast dude and I thought for sure he was going to take it to the house. But he was caught from behind, after just a few yards, by Courtney Viney. It was a really nice defensive play.

The biggest news of the day was Kai Maiava getting injured. He went down on a run near the end of the scrimmage. He was in a lot of pain and the trainers came out to check on him. He sat on the ground for a long time, grimacing. He was helped off the field and didn't put any weight on his left foot. It looked like an ankle sprain. Not good.

So, all in all, it was a fun time out at Spaulding. The running game looked better than I expected but I left disappointed about how the quarterbacks played. I'm sure it is a combination of a lot of things, including the defense being familiar with our play book, but this offense still has a long ways to go before the start of the season.

Can't wait for the spring game next Saturday!