2009 CFN UCLA Preview
UCLA DE Korey Bosworth
UCLA DE Korey Bosworth
Posted Jun 9, 2009

After a great recruiting class, things are starting to look up for UCLA. Can the team get past last year's miserable season and take another big step forward? Will Korey Bosworth and the defense have to carry the offense? Check out the 2009 CFN UCLA Preview.

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By Richard Cirminiello    

- 2009 CFN UCLA Preview
| 2009 UCLA Offense
- 2009 UCLA Defense | 2009 UCLA Depth Chart
- 2008 UCLA Preview | 2007 UCLA Preview | 2006 UCLA Preview 

Head coach: Rick Neuheisel
2nd year: 4-8 
10th year overall: 70-38
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 20, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best UCLA Players
1. DT Brian Price, Jr.
2. CB Alterraun Verner, Sr.
3. LB Reggie Carter, Sr.
4. PK Kai Forbath, Jr.
5. DE Korey Bosworth, Sr.
6. FS Rahim Moore, Soph.
7. LB Akeem Ayers, Soph.
8. LB Kyle Bosworth, Sr.
9. WR Taylor Embree, Soph.
10. TE Ryan Moya, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record:

9/5 San Diego State
9/12 at Tennessee
9/19 Kansas State
10/3 at Stanford
10/10 Oregon
10/17 California
10/24 at Arizona
10/31 at Oregon State
11/7 Washington
11/14 at Washington State
11/21 Arizona State
11/28 at USC

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 4-8

Sept. 1 Tennessee W 27-24 OT
Sept. 13 at BYU L 59-0
Sept. 20 Arizona L 31-10
Sept. 27 Fresno State L 36-31
Oct. 4 Washington State W 28-3
Oct. 11 at Oregon L 31-24
Oct. 18 Stanford W 23-20
Oct. 25 at California L 41-20
Nov. 8 Oregon State L 34-6
Nov. 15 at Washington W 27-7
Nov. 28 at Arizona State L 34-9
Dec. 6 USC L 28-7

The storm has passed at UCLA. The recovery has already begun.

No one really expected much in Rick Neuheisel’s return to his alma mater. The talent just wasn’t there, especially on offense, for the Bruins to compete on a high level. They went 4-8 after briefly raising expectations with a 27-24 upset of Tennessee on the opening weekend of the season. Presumably, the only way from here is up.

When Neuheisel accepted this job, he knew it was going to be a process. He and his staff are good, but he also inherited a mess from Karl Dorrell. Narrowing the divide on USC and the rest of the Pac-10 required more talent, so the staff has the recruiting trail with a vengeance, piecing together back-to-back solid classes. The rewards from all that time on the road should start being reaped this fall, as talented freshmen and sophomores begin to command larger roles on both sides of the ball.

UCLA is going to be better. How much better depends on the play of an offense that was downright impotent a year ago. Too bad, too, because the defense has loads of talent and the special teams boasts Kai Forbath, one of the nation’s premier kickers. That offense, though. After averaging only 17 points a game, a 37-year low, the Bruins are handing the reins of the attack to Kevin Prince, a precocious redshirt freshman with a lot of responsibility and opportunity ahead of him. Rest assured, he won’t get a ton of help from the nation’s 116th-ranked running game, a young corps of receivers, and a flimsy offensive line. As the offense goes, so goes UCLA in 2009.

The Bruins are headed in the right direction, thanks to the recruiting of Neuheisel and his assistants. Tangible proof of that will come if they can piece together six wins and a second-tier bowl invite

What to watch for on offense: The crowning of a Prince. While sloppy in spring scrimmages, redshirt freshman Kevin Prince left few doubts that he’ll be the starting quarterback when the Bruins host San Diego State on Sept. 5. He has far more upside than incumbent Kevin Craft and an extra year of experience over true freshman Richard Brehaut. He also has a strong arm, nimble feet, and a nice feel for the offensive system. It’s been years since UCLA has had stability at quarterback. The program hopes Prince can be the answer early in his career.

What to watch for on defense: The cubs. Brian Price, Reggie Carter, and Alterraun Verner will gobble up all of the preseason pub, and deservedly so. However, the impact of Rick Neuheisel is most evident with the freshmen and sophomores, who’ve begun to initiate a coup on the depth chart. While their names are less familiar, future stars, such as DE Datone Jones, LB Akeem Ayers, S Rahim Moore, and CB Aaron Hester, represents the future on defense at the program. All four underclassmen have played well in the offseason, solidifying starting jobs and giving a glimpse of the future at UCLA.

The team will be far better if… the offense begins to come out of its three-year coma. Last year’s squad managed to average a little over 17 points a game, the lowest at UCLA since 1971. Anything similar to that output is going to negate the play of the defense and special teams. While an overnight transformation is not going to happen, the Bruins have to make strides in all facets, but especially running the ball, preventing turnovers, and blocking up front. If the offense improves, UCLA will bowl.

The Schedule: The three non-conference games are against teams with new head coaches, if that counts Bill Snyder returning to Kansas State, and there will be storylines aplenty against Lane Kiffin and Tennessee. There's a week off after facing the Wildcats before going on the road for the Pac 10 opener at Stanford. Oregon and Cal come to Los Angeles in back-to back October weeks, and those might need to be must wins with four road games in the final six. Going to Arizona and Oregon State to close out October won't be easy, but at least there's a relative breather of a stretch against Washington and at Washington State before a tough finishing kick. Arizona State will be the warm-up for the drive down the road against USC to close out the regular season.

Best offensive player: Junior PK Kai Forbath. Okay, so he’s not technically an offensive player, but this offense is so futile that bending the rules a bit is a must. Anyway, who’s more important to the Bruin offense than Forbath, one of the nation’s most accurate kickers from just about any distance? He easily led the team in scoring a year ago, and has nailed 44-of-52 field goal attempts, including all six from beyond 50 yards.  

Best defensive player: Junior DT Brian Price. Quickly out growing the competition in the Pac-10, Price is on the verge of becoming the most dominant interior lineman in the country. Extremely quick, powerful, and hard-working, he’s been tossing aside teammates in practice as if they’re rag dolls, and had a team-high 14 tackles for loss in 2008. He’s already been outspoken about his desire to be back in Westwood for his senior year. He might want to tone it down until after the NFL advisory committee has its say in December.    

Key players to a successful season: The offensive line. The easy answer would be young quarterback Kevin Prince or one of the backs, but neither will have a prayer for success if the line doesn’t start doing a much better job. The Bruins were abused up front throughout 2008, struggling in all phases of the job. With a little time and support, Prince might wind up exceeding expectations right out of the chute and the young backs are liable to spark the running game.

The season will be a success if ... the Bruins cobble together six wins and bowl invite. UCLA is looking to make tangible progress in Rick Neuheisel’s second season, and a bonus game would surely qualify. The team is still young in key areas and the schedule has its share of challenges, so a winning record could be a tall order. A .500 record and a December away from Los Angeles would set the program up nicely for 2010.  

Key game: Nov. 21 vs. Arizona State. If there’s a pivotal game that could decide UCLA’s postseason fate, this might be it. In what will probably be considered a toss-up at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins will have to hold serve at home whenever it’s possible. Plus, they’d rather already have bowl eligibility sewn up before the following week’s trip to the Coliseum to face rival USC.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Interceptions thrown: UCLA 21 (for 498 yards) - Opponents 11 (for 52 yards)
- Rushing yards: Opponents 2,037 - UCLA 993
- Sacks: Opponents 35 for 215 yards - UCLA 21 for 152 yards

- 2009 CFN UCLA Preview | 2009 UCLA Offense
- 2009 UCLA Defense | 2009 UCLA Depth Chart
- 2008 UCLA Preview | 2007 UCLA Preview | 2006 UCLA Preview