UCLA Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
UCLA Bruins
Posted Aug 8, 2006

UCLA Bruins Preview 2006 - Bruin Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Who’s the Heart?  Who’s the Soul? – Throughout the 2005 season, it was evident that the UCLA offense was as explosive as any unit in the nation.  But, most importantly, when the going got tough, one of the Bruins’ big guns stepped up and displayed the chutzpah evident in a team about to win ten games on the season.  Maurice Drew put the Bruins on his back in the last seven minutes of the Cal game.  QB Drew Olson did the same for the Stanford game.  When the offense had to have something happen, those two typically gave it to them.  So, the ultimate question becomes, who becomes the rock, the foundation – the face in the huddle that the rest of the Bruins believe in?  Does it become Ben Olson, the former prep star who hasn’t seen the bulk of game action for a number of years?  Chris Markey is a guy capable of being a 1,200 yard a year back, but can he be the guy that comes through when it gets tough?  Maybe it turns out to be a receiver like Marcus Everett who takes on the pressure of being the ‘it’ guy.  Perhaps it’s the return of sublime WR Junior Taylor.  It’s one thing to have to replace good football players – it’s quite another to replace the heart and soul of your offense, but that’s the challenge facing Karl Dorrell and his Bruin coaching staff this fall.

2nd and Seven – Adversity only makes you stronger? – The Bruin defense has been a liability in past years, that’s not news.  So, then what are we to make out of this unit losing all three of its linebackers, including All Pac-10 star Spencer Havner, the Bruins leading tackler?  Ouch.  It’s been like taking candy from a baby trying to run the ball on the Bruins, and now Pac-10 teams get the opportunity to take advantage of three relatively inexperienced rookies.  Whoa, any good news here?  New defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker has his work cut out for him, but he did work last season under talented Washington Redskin DC Gregg Williams.  Step one - getting his Bruins to play as hard and as physical on defense as Ben Howland’s basketball team.

3rd and Three – The Key is Keyes – It took your breath away.  It ended up being one of the lead highlights on every sports show across the country.  It was the hit that safety Dennis Keyes put on Oklahoma QB Rhett Bomar in their eye-opening win against the Sooners that led to a Bruin defensive touchdown.  Suffice it to say, the Bruins need more of that from Keyes and his other Bruin mates.  He finished last year with 57 tackles, enough to be fourth most on the team, but he also added 8 tackles for a loss.  He’ll be one of only a handful of returning defenders, so Keyes’ importance is more than the numbers he registers this season.

4th and One – Is it enough? – Last season’s ten wins should’ve provided more answers than questions about head coach Karl Dorrell and his tenure in Westwood; however, after the exodus of talent on offense and graduation on defense, you have to wonder if Dorrell has enough in the cupboard to keep stocking up nine and ten win seasons on a regular basis.  On the flip side, there were only two losses last year, but the Bruins sent their JV team to those games, subsequently stoking the fires under the seat Dorrell occupies.  How much was that bowl win worth?  We’ll find out soon.  Dorrell has had a number of coaching changes the past two years, and as mentioned above, the offensive firepower that generated those ten victories is about to collect a paycheck.  This might be THE season for Dorrell – win with a group of youngsters and the foundation may finally be in place for the UCLA alum to put pressure on that team across town.  Struggle early and it could get nasty.

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