CoogFans' Opponent Preview - UCLA

UCLA barely snuck into a bowl game last year thanks to a loss by Army on the last day of the regular season. Their reward was beating Temple in the EagleBank Bowl. Beating Temple may not sound like much, but it was a necessary step in the development of the program.

UCLA Bruins
Pac-10 Conference

2009 Record: (7-6, 3-6)
2009 Bowl: EagleBank Bowl vs. Temple (W 30-21)
Coach: Rick Neuheisel (11-14 at UCLA, 77-44 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Norm Chow
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Bullough

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Johnathan Franklin, RB, 566 yards Passing: Kevin Prince, QB, 2,050 yards Receiving: Nelson Rosario, WR, 723 yards Tackles: Akeem Ayers, LB, 75 Sacks: Akeem Ayers, LB, 6.0 Interceptions: Rahim Moore, S, 10

Other Key Returnees: G Jeff Baca, S Tony Dye, WR Taylor Embree, K Kai Forbath, OT Mike Harris, DE Datone Jones, G Micah Kia, C Kai Maiava, CB Sheldon Price, G Eddie Williams
Key Losses: WR Terrence Austin, DE Korey Bosworth, LB Kyle Bosworth, LB Reggie Carter, RB Chane Moline, TE Logan Paulsen, DT Brian Price, DT Jerzy Siewierski, OT Xavier Su'a-Filo, CB Alteraun Verner

UCLA barely snuck into a bowl game last year thanks to a loss by Army on the last day of the regular season. Their reward was beating Temple in the EagleBank Bowl. Beating Temple may not sound like much, but it was a necessary step in the development of the program. Coach Rick Neuheisel has strung together a couple fine recruiting classes and that should start paying off sooner or later. This may not be the year UCLA wins the Pac-10, but they should take another step in that direction.

Strengths:
Kevin Prince had a good freshman campaign for a quarterback. He completed over 56 percent of his passes and threw eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He had his good games and his bad games, but a year of experience, not to mention another year under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Norm Chow, should make Prince more consistent. With a line that returns a ton of talent, except for left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo who is leaving on a mission, Prince should have time to find his talented receivers down the field. Nelson Rosario turned into a star by the end of the 2009 campaign and ended the year with a team high 723 receiving yards. Taylor Embree is a not quite as much of a big play threat as Rosario, but he is a solid receiver. The absence of Terrence Austin and tight end Logan Paulsen leaves a gap behind the top two receivers, but there are plenty of youngsters who should be able to fill that void. The ground game was nothing special last season, but if the line can stay healthy, Johnathan Franklin could turn into a decent back. He rushed for 566 yards and five scores as a freshman and is full of potential. Derrick Coleman is more of a bruising back and will likely take over the short yardage plays from the now departed fullback and running back Chane Moline.

Weaknesses:
It was the Bruins defense that won games last year. The offense did enough not to lose them. However, the defense was built around three superstars in the conference's Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price, linebacker Reggie Carter and cornerback Alterraun Verner. That is a lot of talent to replace. The good news is that the secondary has free safety Rahim Moore back after picking off ten passes a year ago. Corner Sheldon Price is a decent player as well and if Aaron Hester can return from his injury and replace Verner, UCLA suddenly has a big and talented secondary. Linebacker Akeem Ayers is ready to lead that group in the middle of the field. The big problem lies on the defensive line. Datone Jones returns after tallying four sacks a year ago, but finding starters for the other three spots on the line will be an issue.

The Bottom Line:
Senior David Carter and junior Nate Chandler are the most experienced defensive tackles on the roster, but neither have much playing time under their belt. Replacing Price will not be done too easily by either of those two. The good news, at least for the future, is that the Bruins landed highly touted end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and tackle Cassius Marsh, both of whom could be thrown into the mix right away. UCLA did not really tally a lot of sacks last year, but the consistent pressure brought on the opposing quarterback by the front four made it much easier for the secondary to succeed. That is one reason why the Bruins had the second best pass defense in the conference in 2009. If the front four falters in 2010, the Bruins defense will not be as good. That will move the pressure from the opposing quarterback to UCLA's quarterback, and the rest of the Bruin offense, to get the job done.

2009 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 114.62 (97th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 222.77 (52, 4)
Total Offense: 337.38 (88, 8)
Scoring Offense: 22.00 (94, 9)
Rushing Defense: 142.77 (59, 8)
Pass Defense: 191.23 (28, 2)
Total Defense: 334.00 (32, 3)
Scoring Defense: 21.23 (27, 3)
Turnover Margin: .46 (26, 1)
Sacks: 1.92 (58, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (74, 5)


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