UCLA is ready to make that next step. For the first time in my two years we have the depth and a great core in this program. Last year we built a foundation. We had our ups and downs with that process. The next step is the step we're making this year. We have competition and I think it helps any program. We don't have that level of complacency. We have that new attitude. We are anxious to get started. Our guys have trained hard and have had a good summer.
On the offense:
We have three returning starters on our offensive line, but we also have a lot of depth. What has helped us from that experience, is that last year we had 2-3 freshman on our two deep. We're young there. But our core depth is there. We need to keep recruiting so its always returning. The depth is the best since I've been here. With three guys like that returning, it's a good core. We anticipate another big season in rushing and protecting our quarterback.
On what constitutes the next step:
I want to have in our program a level of competition across the board. Everyone needs to compete like their jobs at stake. Our linebackers had some injuries and had their postseason surgeries. We have some young players that in the time they were out, got a chance to play and they want to prove they can play in case those guys go down. Our secondary, everyone is trying to earn a spot. We had two guys that started last year Try Brown and Marcus Cassell, who were half year starters but there not on solid ground. You have Michael Norris and Rodney Van who are trying to earn those positions.
(A reporter actually asked this question-)Is Spencer Havner returning?
As far as today I know he's returning. Spencer is a hell of a linebacker. He had some minor shoulder surgery, but he looks physically the best he's ever looked and from a leadership standpoint he's stepped up.
On competing with USC:
Sure they are off and doing great things, but like any competitive person, you are trying to do great things for yourself and if anything, it inspires me to do more and do better. We've had that experience before and we know we can do that again.
On Marcedes Lewis:
We're going to unleash that man. He is a talented young man. This is year three for him. He's going to be utilized in a number of respects to help give us an advantage. We have some depth with young guys that we think can help us. From a receiving standpoint, that's where they help us. He knows our system and we're going to put him in positions to not only be successful for himself but for our offense.
On the QB situation:
Drew Olson has gotten himself into a position where he is full and ready to go. Ben has an opportunity to help this team as much as Pat Cowan and David Koral. Drew understands the depth at that position and how people are trying to unseat him at that position. He has the most experience that has led him to be the guy who has retained his job. I know Ben has made progress since spring. Their peers are excited about all those quarterbacks. Right now, Drew, he's our guy. He been cleared and we're going to see if he is cleared to do things that will lead us through this season. And if not, there are a number of guys who can lead this thing.
On whether Drew Olson is looking forward to starting against Matt Moore:
He's worried about San Diego State. (Then Mo Drew interjected) "We're only worried about San Diego State right now."
On the defense:
The transformation our defense has made is closer to how I envisioned it since I got here. We've improved our overall team speed. Our linebackers can run, our secondary can run. Our seniors, they are the linebacker position. There are some players that are going to push for a starting opportunity. We have guys that we think they can play. Our speed is better than it has been the past two years.
On Maurice Drew:
He came from a very good program. He has a good pedigree and he comes from a system that knows how to win. He leads by example, he's team oriented. When I see UCLA in the future, I see more players like Maurice Drew. What I saw this spring is a much more mature player. He's much more patient, much more efficient.
On the defensive line:
That experience will help. We had 10 new players play the defensive line position last year. We'll have more depth at that position. Our athletes are better than we've had at that area. We are as solid in that group as we have been in the last 3 years.
On the significance of playing Oklahoma:
It will be very significant, but as a team we're not worrying about Oklahoma. We're focusing on San Diego State. I know it sounds funny, but we're just worrying about going 1-0. We haven't done that for a while.
On showing leadership:
There are two ways we're trying to show leadership. One is fighting through adversity. Last year we had an up and down season. One week we'd get through it and one week we wouldn't. The other thing is play like there is no tomorrow. Play each game like it's the national championship, with that heart and that effort. Not worry about any distractions.