Opponent Preview - UCLA Bruins

When the kicker is the biggest loss on your team it either means your team losses nobody or your kicker is really good. In this case, it is a little bit of both. UCLA returns 20 position players and kicker Justin Medlock was one of the best in the nation and will be working on Sundays this year.

UCLA Bruins
Pac-10

2006 Record: (7-6, 5-4)
Coach: Karl Dorrell (29-21 at UCLA, 29-21 overall)



Starters Returning: 21 (10 offense, 10 defense, 1 specialist)

Offensive Starters Lost: OL Robert Chai

Offensive Starters Returning: QB Pat Cowan, RB Chris Markey, FB Michael Pitre, WR Marcus Everett, WR Brandon Breazell, TE Logan Paulsen, OL Shannon Tevaga, OL Chris Joseph, OL Noah Sutherland, OL Aleksey Lanis

Defensive Starters Lost: DE Justin Hickman

Defensive Starters Returning: DT Brigham Harwell, DT Kevin Brown, DE Bruce Davis, LB Christian Taylor, LB Reggie Carter, LB Aaron Whittington, CB Rodney Van, CB Trey Brown, S Dennis Keyes, S Chris Horton

Starting Specialists Lost: K Justin Medlock

Starting Specialists Returning: P Aaron Perez

 

For starters: When the kicker is the biggest loss on your team it either means your team losses nobody or your kicker is really good. In this case, it is a little bit of both. UCLA returns 20 position players and kicker Justin Medlock was one of the best in the nation and will be working on Sundays this year.

 

Offense:  Finding a little more punch to the offense is all this team needs. Patrick Cowan is a decent quarterback and returns after throwing for 1,782 yards in 2006. However, it is Ben Olson who has the skill set to take the Bruins to the next level. Coach Karl Dorrell wanted to avoid a distraction with the quarterback battle and named Olson the starter in April. With the starting job his, Olson has to prove that he is ready to lead the team.

Running back Chris Markey led the team with 1,107 rushing yards and 35 receptions. While Markey is a dynamic back, the wide receivers need to step up. Marcus Everett and Brandon Breazell topped the UCLA charts in receiving yards last season and have plenty of experience and talent to make a bigger impact this year now that the quarterback situation is settled.

The offensive line, led by guard Shannon Tevaga, should help bolster both the passing and running attacks. Four starters return and seven players with starting experience. The lone loss, center Robert Chai, is expected to be replaced by senior Chris Joseph, who started at guard last year.

 

Defense:  The Bruins only lose two players that were listed on last year's Emerald Bowl two-deep roster. With so much experience returning, UCLA is expected to have a dominating defense. Replacing defensive end Justin Hickman will not be easy, but Bruce Davis, who was named first-team All-American by multiple media outlets, will do enough damage on his own. All five players who started a game at linebacker are returning, led by Christian Taylor, Reggie Carter and Aaron Whittington.

The secondary has developed into a strong point for the defense. Cornerback Trey Brown and strong safety Chris Horton are candidates to earn All-Pac-10 honors. Free safety Dennis Keyes and cornerback Rodney Van also return after starting last season. However, Alterraun Verner will not make it easy for all the returning starters to come back to their jobs. Verner, a 5-10 sophomore, earned co-Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors and will compete with Van for playing time on the corner.

 

The Bottom Line:  With the inevitable Westwood quarterback controversy settled, the Bruins are ready to make a big run. UCLA had the talent last year to beat some great teams like USC at home and Arizona State on the road. They also collapsed at times and lost games to Washington and Washington State that they should have won. If consistency comes with experience, the Bruins should be able to beat the teams they are supposed to beat and continue to pull off some upsets.
 

Schedule:

09/01at Stanford
09/08BYU
09/15at Utah
09/22Washington
09/29at Oregon State
10/06Notre Dame
10/20California
10/27at Wash State
11/03at Arizona
11/10Arizona State
11/24Oregon
12/01at USC

 

Links: UCLABruins.com (official) |  BruinReportOnline.com | Message BoardBruinGold.com | Pac-10.org

Media: LA Times | LA Times Blog | LA Daily News | LA Daily News Blog | OC Register | Press Enterprise | Daily Bruin (student)

 


DE Bruce Davis is one of the top defensive ends in the Pac-10.


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