Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.
2009 Season Breakdown
2009 final record (overall, conference): 7-6, 3-6
Bowl Game:Eagle Bank Bowl (W 30-21 vs. Temple)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'):NR, NR
Conference finish:8th Pac-10
Offensive rank: 88
Defensive rank: 32
2009 Individual Statistical Leaders
Rushing:Johnathan Franklin, 566 yards, 5 TD
Passing:Kevin Prince, 2,050 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT
Receiving:Nelson Rosario, 723 yards, 2 TD; Taylor Embree, 608 yards, 2 TD
Tackles:Reggie Carter, 79 total tackles; Kyle Bosworth, 77 total tackles; Akeem Ayers, 75 total tackles
Sacks:Brian Price, 7 sacks (7 solo); Akeem Ayers, 6 sacks (6 solo)
Interceptions:Interceptions: Rahim Moore, 10 interceptions
2010 Season Outlook
(* denotes conference game)
September 25 @ Texas: UCLA wants to make their way back to relevance on a national level. Playing well against, or beating, a team like Texas would be a good first step.
October 21 @ Oregon: No Jeremiah Masoli, but the Bruins will have to deal with LaMichael James in Eugene this season. Masoli didn't even play in last season's Ducks victory over the Bruins as James went for 152 yards. There are five new starters on the front seven, but by October the Bruins should know where they're at defensively.
December 4 vs. USC: For UCLA, wins have been hard to come by against USC of late. Since 1999, the Bruins are 1-10 against the Trojans. That two of those wins are now vacated comes as little solace to Bruins fans.
Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)
Logan Paulsen, TE; Xavier Su'a-Filo; Brian Price, DT; Korey Bosworth, DE; Reggie Carter, LB; Kyle Bosworth, LB; Alterraun Verner, CB
Key Returning Players
Kevin Prince, QB; Nelson Rosario, WR; Datone Jones, DE; Akeem Ayers, LB; Rahim Moore, S; Kai Forbath, K; Jeff Locke, P
On offense, it's all about 'Revolver'. No not that one. Their new offense. It's modeled after Nevada's Pistol offense, but "more loaded," Neuheisel joked according to ESPN.com's Pac-10 blog. The Revolver makes the defense respect a running quarterback and allows Kevin Prince to carry the ball a few times a game. Don't expect an offense like Georgia Tech's or Navy's, and don't look for Prince to put up Mike Vick-like rushing numbers, but the Bruins expect the new offense to open things up a bit. "It's opening up the passing game a lot and it's really fun to run. I'm liking it so far. It's an efficient way to do things," Prince said according to ESPN. "I might not have to run that much, but the mere fact that they have to have a guy assigned to me, to respect me as a running threat, I think will open up our offense a lot more."
There has been some questions as to the effectiveness of the Revolver offense (some say it's misfiring), but regardless of how much the new offense is used, expect to see a few elements of the spread option in Pasadena. Prince, with a year of experience under his belt, should come out more prepared in 2010. He was slowed by injuries last season and still has some growing and progressing to do, but the Bruins could see an improved offense this season. Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree looked good this spring and will give Prince a couple of big targets in the passing game. Josh Smith, a Colorado transfer, should also figure into the offense this season.
Running back Milton Knox transferred to Fresno State, thinning a backfield that saw four players, including Knox, competing for playing time. Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman were the two leading rushers last season and return in 2010. Damien Tigpen could also see time in the backfield and in the return game, but will see time as a receiver as well. The biggest question mark on this team is the offense line. Can they hold their own to keep Prince upright and allow the Revolver experiment to be successful? Four starters return and there is plenty of experience, but consistency and depth are concerns.
Replacing Gerhart will likely be a team effort. After all, it's not easy to replace 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground. Gerhart single-handedly rushed for more yards than 60 teams in the nation last season and scored more rushing touchdowns than 101 teams. Stepfan Taylor was Gerhart's backup as a true freshman, rushing for 303 yards and two touchdowns of his own. He's considered the favorite in the backfield, but Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney and Usua Amanam will challenge for playing time. Watch out for fullback Owen Marecic as well. He's listed as the starting fullback (where he's been an all Pac-10 honorable mention) and a starting inside linebacker.
Akeem Ayers returns to a linebackers corps that will replace two starters from a season ago. While Ayers is a star, replacing Reggie Carter and Kyle Bosworth, last year's leading tacklers, is an ongoing battle. Steve Sloan and Pat Larimore are battling for the middle linebacker position, while Sean Westgate and Glenn Love fight it out at weakside. Sloan was a starter in 2008 and played in all 13 games last season. There is talent here and all four players, plus a few others not mentioned, should see the field plenty in 2010.
After suffering a broken femur in spring practice, Brandon Sermons will redshirt the 2010 season as the Bruins depth at secondary takes a bit of a hit. Rahim Moore led the nation in interceptions last season with 10 and will return as one of the nation's top free safeties. Strong safety Tony Dye was the starter in every game last season and will give the unit a little stability in the last line of defense. Moore and Dye enter their junior seasons with a few younger players vying for playing time behind them. At corner, Sheldon Price returns after starting 11 games at the position last season. Aaron Hester, who was injured early last season, played well in the spring and is likely to assume the other starting spot. Dalton Hilliard, moving from the free safety position, will see time at corner, too.
Only one starter from last year's squad (defensive end Datone Jones) returns on the defensive line. Among those gone is all-Pac-10 first teamer and the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price. Depth, as a result, is a concern for the Bruins up front. David Carter enters as a fifth year senior at defensive tackle and, along with Jones, will be looked upon for leadership along the line. Nate Chandler, a tight end last season, will move to defensive tackle and could be looking at significant playing time.
Special Teams Overview
The Bruins return the Lou Groza award winner in kicker Kai Forbath. With 72 career field goals, he needs 14 field goals this season to break John Lee's record of 85. His boasts a career 86.7% field goal percentage. This is a special kicker. Need I say more?
At punter, Jeff Locke enjoyed first team all-Freshman honors and second team all-Pac-10 honors as a freshman last season. He was one of just 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy award. His 43.6 yards per punt average was good for second in the Pac-10. The Bruins have some pretty good kickers. What's more, Christian Yount is one of the nation's top long snappers.
Colorado transfer Josh Smith hopes to figure into the return game this fall. Smith averaged 10.4 yards per punt return with the Buffs in 2008 and 25.5 yards per kickoff return and even took one back for a touchdown. He'll add a very special element to the special teams. He missed a good portion of spring practice with a knee injury, but should be all systems go for the fall.
Head Coach: Rick Neuheisel
Considered one of the best offensive minds in the game by some, Rick Neuheisel has been the head coach of the Bruins since 2008. He is a UCLA alumnus, starting at quarterback in the 1983 season. Following a couple of years in the USFL and a short stint in the NFL, he tutored Troy Aikman as a graduate assistant in 1986 and was then named a full-time assistant at the school from 1988 to 1993 before heading to Colorado. He became head coach of the Buffs in 1995 and then head coach at Washington in 1999. He spent a few seasons with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL before being named head coach of the Bruins for the 2008 season. He enters his third season as head coach at UCLA and has built a strong foundation for the Bruins following three straight top 15 recruiting classes, according to Rivals (13, 14, 8). Recruiting well is the most efficient way to build a consistent winner and Neuheisel seems on the right path. Now we'll just see how this Revolver works out.
Top 2011 Draft Prospects
Kai Forbath, K; Christian Yount, LS (there aren't many seniors on UCLA's roster and never underestimate the value of a good long snapper…)
The Bruins will implement the Revolver in Pasadena. To what extent the new offense plays in the UCLA offense remains to be seen, and some aren't so impressed with how the Bruins ran the offense in the spring. Nevertheless, the Bruins offense will feature, to some degree, elements of an option offense. The change is due to the lethargic offensive numbers the Bruins have put up in the past few seasons. The offense has ranked 71st or worse in the nation since 2006. The Bruins return talent at the skill positions and are excited to see what Josh Smith can do on offense and special teams. The offensive line and how well the new offense works are the big questions on the offensive side of the ball.
On defense, there are just five returning starters, and three of the seven lost were all-Pac-10 first teamers last season. That's never good. Two new starting linebackers and three new starting defensive linemen must step up to solidify the front seven. Free safety Rahim Moore is the star of the secondary, and the defense along with linebacker Akeem Ayers. The defense will be the strength of this team once again, and while they may not live up to last season's production, will be a formidable bunch again despite the turnover. - Danny Hobrock
Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.
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