I'm excited about 2004. It' been a great offseason for us since the end of last year. We've made so many great steps as a program, as players and coaches. Everything is on board to my liking. There is a better comfort level. The attitude is the biggest thing. Our team has made a tremendous commitment to one another. They are relying on each other and being more responsible to each other. We had a great spring practice. Drew (Olson) is more confident in our offense. We tweaked our system with three new coaches. Tom Cable is our new offensive coordinator and has done a good job with it. Jim Svoboda is a top-notch quarterback coach. Dino Babers is coaching our wide receivers. Our staff is solid and our players have done a great job of changing the perception of our program.
On the offense:
That's been a position of concern, but they've worked tremendously hard in the offseason. They are going to set the standard of the offense. I'm excited about what this offense will portray this season. Cable has coached this offense at Idaho, and he's done a good job putting his stamp of what is important to him in this offense. The players have taken a hold of that.
On the transition to the Head Coach:
I don't think anything prepares you well for the first year. It was tough, but I'm excited for 2004. This team in 2004 will exhibit the attitude and toughness that portrays the history of UCLA. What I'm excited about for this year is the coaches and players are on the same page.
On raising the game to another level
We think we are going to be pretty good, contrary to what people think. You have to start somewhere, and we're excited about the challenge about where we are going to finish.
On the running back situation
We're going to use Manuel White, who's been a very good player for us as a fullback, a tailback, as a one back. Maurice Drew is one of those players who has earned his keep with his teammates. You'll see those players on the field at the same time, and running as one backs. Both of those guys will provide great gains to our running game.
On the program in general
Everything is starting to fall into place. This Bruin Family you'll see in 2004 is growing together. There is a thirst to be successful, and they are really counting on each other. Our job is to make UCLA what UCLA is. UCLA has its own stature, its own prestige and our goal is to build that stature to that level, and that stature is going to happen real soon.
On the true freshman expected to contribute immediately
You really don't know until practice starts. We feel we have a solid group of freshman coming in. The biggest chance is on the offensive line. Two or three of our 6 incoming linemen have a chance to make the deep. It depends on how fast they learn our offense and where they are at from a strength and physical standpoint.
One thing about this team that I haven't felt about this team is everyone is extremely close and I never felt that. We feel like we have a whole new team. There is a lot of motivation coming from last year. We're looking forward to it. September 4th can't come soon enough.
On the offense
With this system, to have it for a year is a huge thing for us. Spring ball went really well. A lot better than last year when we trying to figure things out. When you're comfortable it' easier. The O-line has made a huge jump this offseason.
On Matt Moore being gone
The controversy isn't there. Its real comfortable that I have this team and this offense. Now its time to focus on getting this team better and getting this offense better. For this team its one less distraction for us. Even as a backup you try to get ready every week, but now as the starter, you know what to expect you know more to prepare. Coach Svoboda has added some good things, and I'm looking forward to it.
On raising the game to another level
We're excited cause this thing can get to another level. There is a lot we can do to raise our offense and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do.
COMING UP: Dorrell and Olson 1-on-1 interviews