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2008 CFN UCLA Preview |
2008 UCLA Offense
2008 UCLA Defense |
2008 UCLA Depth Chart
2007 CFN UCLA Preview |
2006 CFN UCLA Preview
with Rick Neuheisel
Head coach: Rick Neuheisel
1st year at UCLA
9th year overall: 66-30
Off. 20, Def. 18, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 25
Best UCLA Players
2. CB Alterraun Verner, Jr.
3. RB Kahlil Bell, Sr.
4. PK Kai Forbath, Soph.
5. DT Brigham Harwell, Sr.
6. WR Dominique Johnson, Soph.
7. WR Marcus Everett, Sr.
8. DT Brian Price, Soph.
9. TE Logan Paulsen, Sr.
10. OT Micah Kia, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 1 Tennessee
Sept. 6 OPEN DATE
Sept. 13 at BYU
Sept. 20 Arizona
Sept. 27 Fresno State
Oct. 4 Washington State
Oct. 11 at Oregon
Oct. 18 Stanford
Oct. 25 at California
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 Oregon State
Nov. 15 at Washington
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 28 at Arizona State
Dec. 6 USC
at Oregon St W 40-14
at USC L 24-7
Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 22 BYU L 17-16
a new coaching staff taking over, but will it change UCLA’s luck?
Rick Neuheisel is considered by just about everyone as a great hire with
his can-do attitude, solid reputation at turning teams around, and
history with the program. While he should be good with a little bit of
time, and he has assembled a tremendous cast of coaches around him, he
needs better fortune than his predecessor, Karl Dorrell had when it came
Now that Neuheisel is back at his alma mater, life may never be the same
in Westwood, a good thing considering how mediocre the program had
become under Dorrell thanks to quarterback issues and a vast array of
bumps and bruises killed a promising 2007. While it’ll be easy to point
to injuries to quarterbacks Pat Cowan, who’s out for the year with a
knee injury, and Ben Olson, who’ll be back early this fall from a foot
injury, as a reason why UCLA will struggle again, the truth is that the
team has the talent to win and win big. Most importantly, it has the
coaching staff to overcome the problems.
At the three most influential coaching positions, the Bruins have gone
from Dorrell, Jay Norvell, and DeWayne Walker to Neuheisel, offensive
coordinator/guru Norm Chow, and Walker as the defensive coordinator.
That’s called a major trade-up with three coaches who could all run
major programs, but will it pay dividends right away?
Although the trio has created a stir and some mild concern at USC, the
reality is that UCLA has plenty of question marks that need to be
answered, especially at quarterback, along the offensive line, and on
defense. The excitement surrounding Neuheisel & Co. is legitimate, but
the real dividends won’t likely arrive until at least 2009 unless the
team can get and stay healthy.
If nothing else, with Neuheisel at the helm, UCLA appears ready to
emerge from its decade-long malaise, building a foundation for the
future by establishing a power running game and breaking in a slew of
newcomers on both sides of the ball.
What to watch for on offense: The receivers. If the quarterbacks
and offensive line cooperate, which are both big “ifs”, the Bruins have
the ingredients of their most productive receiving corps in years. Young
Dominique Johnson has the size and acrobatics to blossom into the
headliner. Marcus Everett and Gavin Ketchum have made it all the way
back from season-ending injuries. And Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya give
UCLA one of the best one-two punches at tight end in the conference. In
an offense looking for a spark, this group of pass-catchers has the
talent to ignite it.
What to watch for on defense: Replacing DE Bruce Davis, one of the best pass rushers in
school history. If the leaky Bruin secondary has any chance of stopping
the pass this year, it’ll need help from the boys up front, who’ll be
trying to cushion the blow of losing a true disruptive force. Ends Korey
Bosworth and Tom Blake are nice players, but without Davis to attract
multiple blockers, they’ll find it tougher getting into the backfield.
The team will be far better if… Ben Olson finally performs like
the quarterback that every major program had to have six years ago. If
he can put it all together under the watchful eye of Chow, it’ll have a
ripple effect throughout the entire offense. The Bruin receivers can be
a lot more than they’ve shown in recent seasons, but they need a partner
that can stay healthy and distribute the ball with a limited number of
mistakes. Olson, who hasn’t shown much of
anything so far, has to be that guy for a hit-or-miss UCLA
era kicks off with a bang playing Tennessee right away before a
potentially tougher game at BYU. To make things even more interesting,
the third non-conference date is against dangerous Fresno State team
that's more than good enough to pull off the upset in the Rose Bowl. The
Pac 10 slate started out lousy and ends up with a few decent breaks.
There are five league home games and an off-week between road dates
against Washington and Arizona State. While the USC game is hardly a
true home game, it might as well be in Pasadena. The downside will be
the road trips to Oregon and California, but they're wrapped around a
home game against Stanford.
Best offensive player:
Senior RB Kahlil Bell. Despite sharing time with Chris Markey, Bell was
steamrolling toward a 1,000-yard season before injuring his knee and
missing the last month of the season. A powerful 6-0, 206-pounder with a
little zip in the open field, he’s almost done with his rehab and poised
to become the focal point of the Bruin offense.
Sept. 13 at BYU. While the opener against Tennessee could be a statement
game if the Bruins can pull it off, it’ll be the BYU showdown that’ll be
a measuring stick. It’ll be a battle against a familiar foe and one of
the best non-BCS programs of the upcoming season. The schools met twice
last year with UCLA winning in the regular season and BYU taking the Las
Best defensive player: Junior LB Reggie Carter. Forget the
numbers. Carter is much better than last year’s 62 tackles, 12 tackles
for loss, and two sacks. He’s a violent, explosive hitter with great
lateral quickness and the instincts to be one of the nation’s most
productive middle linebackers. Say goodbye to Carter’s anonymity
outside the Pac-10.
Key players to a successful season: The rebuilt secondary. Aside
from CB Alterraun Verner, this is a very suspect unit that could get
toasted on a weekly basis without a big season from the pass rush. If
opposing quarterbacks know they can pick apart this patchwork group,
it’ll take something special from the front seven to save the pass
defense. Verner needs help, or else he’ll have a very lonely and quiet
The season will be a success if ... the Bruins win seven games
and earn a bowl invite. Don’t get carried away with the expectations
just because a new and exciting staff is in town. UCLA has a ton of
holes on both sides of the ball, making a 13th game and a
competitive effort in Pac-10 play a good opening for Neuheisel & Co.
before they really kick things into gear in 2009.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Interception return average: UCLA 22.2 yards – Opponents 9.8 yards
- Penalties: UCLA 95 for 807 yards – Opponents 78 for 657 yards
- Kickoff return average: UCLA 25.2 yards – Opponents 20.2 yards