UCLA Preview

ASU picked up a big win that made them bowl eligible last week but with a logjam in the middle of the league, another win would all but secure a third-straight post season berth. After dropping four straight games, the Bruins are one win away from becoming bowl eligible themselves. Thus, Saturday's contest figures to be important as the conference bowl picture begins to clear up.

UCLA BRUINS
2006 Record: 5-5, 3-4 Pac-10
Head Coach: Karl Dorrell


Last Week: The Bruins beat Oregon State at home, 25-7

OFFENSE
*Projected Starters

WR Marcus Everett, Jr.
ST Aleskey Lanis, Fr.
SG Shannon Tevaga, Jr.
C Robert Chai, Sr.
WG Chris Joseph, So.
WT Noah Sutherland, Jr.
TE Logan Paulsen, So.
QB Pat Cowan, So.
FB Michael Pitre, Jr.
TB Chris Markey, Jr.
WR Brandon Breazell, Jr.

After quarterback Ben Olson went down with an injury earlier this season, Pat Cowan has stepped in to throw for 1,241 yards in 9 games. The sophomore has completed 104 of his 195 passes for 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His 137.9 yard average per game isn't among the most impressive statistics but it's been serviceable enough for a Bruin offense trying to limit turnovers. Before injury, Olson had thrown for 5 scores and 5 interceptions.

After spelling Maurice Drew previously in his career, Chris Markey has taken the reigns of the rushing game this season. The junior will be looking to surpass the 1,000 yard mark in the Bruins' last two games of the regular season with 863 yards already accrued. Markey has scored twice and brings in an 86.3 rushing yard average per game. He can also catch well out of the backfield and leads the team in receptions with 28 catches. Sophomore Kahlil Bell has been injured this season but is the team's second leading rusher with 239 yards and 2 touchdowns on 60 carries. The youngest Moline brother on the team, Chane, has emerged as a freshman. Moline leads all ball carriers with 3 touchdowns on only 28 carries. Junior Derrick Williams is also an option in the backfield but lacks a lot of carries.

Junior receiver Marcus Everett has caught 22 balls for 5 scores this season. After an early season injury last year, Valley product Junior Taylor is back for his senior season. Taylor has 24 catches and 2 touchdowns. Flankers Brandon Breazell and Matt Willis have a combined 38 catches and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Logan Paulsen averages just under 28 yards per game.

DEFENSE
*Projected Starters

DE Justin Hickman, Sr.
DT Kevin Brown, Jr.
DT Brigham Harwell, Jr.
DE Bruce Davis, Jr.
SAM Aaron Whittington, Jr.
MIKE Christian Taylor, Jr.
WILL Reggie Carter, Fr.
SS Chris Horton, Jr.
FS Dennis Keyes, Jr.
CB Rodney Van, Jr.
CB Trey Brown, Jr.

Keying the defensive turnaround in 2006 for the Bruins has been the defensive line. A depleted unit in the past has turned into a strength this season with an inspired pass rush. Defensive ends Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis rank first and second, respectively, in the Pac-10 in sacks and tackles for loss. The two have combined for 22 sacks this season. Junior defensive tackles Brigham Harwell and Kevin Brown have also assisted in shoring up the porous run defense from a year ago. The UCLA defense is allowing an average of just under 91 rushing yards per game. Harwell has collected 23 stops while Brown is one shy of that mark with 22.

Despite losing three senior starters at linebacker from last year's squad, the Bruin linebackers have been effective this season. Middle linebacker Christian Taylor has notched 59 tackles and 4 sacks. The talented junior may be one of the conference's rising stars. Reggie Carter has 34 tackles on the weak-side in his first season playing in Westwood. The redshirt freshman was a scout team standout a year ago. Opposite Carter is strong-side linebacker Aaron Whittington. 4 of the junior's 29 tackles have been for a loss this season. Former defensive back Eric McNeal will also see some action off the bench. McNeal has 15 tackles and an interception is his senior year.

Although the loss of Jarrad Page hurts, the secondary has been up to the task of limiting more big plays through the air. All four juniors have returning experience, most notably Trey Brown at cornerback. Brown has combined with fellow starter Rodney Van for 80 tackles and 3 interceptions. The pair also have 6 pass break ups each. Freshman Alteraun Verner has emerged as a solid player early in his career with 42 stops and 2 interceptions. Strong safety Chris Horton leads the team in tackles with 69. Dennis Keyes has collected 64 tackles and 1 interception at the free safety spot.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Aaron Perez, So.
PK Justin Medlock, Sr.
PR Terrence Austin, Fr.
KOR Jeremy McGee, Fr.
Derrick Williams, Jr.

Senior Justin Medlock is among the conference's best group of specialists. Medlock's 85.2% field goal conversion rate is tops in the Pac-10. The senior is 23 of 27 on field goals this season, including 2 makes from 51 yards out. Last week, Medlock converted on all 4 attempts against the Beavers.

Receiver Terrence Austin nearly broke a punt return for a score but the freshman has a 13.8 yard average on 8 returns this season. Jeremy McGee has returned 11 kicks with his longest going for 31 yards. Junior Derrick Williams has had some modest success on 7 returns for a 24.9 yard average.

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