The Daily Bruin -- which in the summer publishes weekly -- joins the chorus of those urging caution for next season.
Kendall Salter has this in his column today (titled Football Hopes Need Caution:
Hold up. Time for a little dish of perspective.
In 2008, UCLA will assuredly make some serious improvements, but many of these may not play out onto the field.
Coach Rick Neuheisel’s hiring, along with that of Chow’s, and Walker’s retention, cements the blocks of a potentially potent Bruin team, but that will take a year, if not two or three, to take serious effect. UCLA enters the season short of its tabbed starting quarterback, the hard-luck Patrick Cowan, whose season ended with an injury before it could even begin. Backup Ben Olson, once hailed as a possible savior to the program, will need to return from yet another injury and improve both his passing game and his pocket mobility to give his team a consistent chance to win.
The defensive secondary lost top-flight players and is thus filled with inexperience, and the offensive line is seemingly more permeable than a slice of Swiss cheese.
In short, there are some serious questions to be asked about the level at which this team will be able to compete as the leaves turn gold and begin to fall. Improvements will be made by the new coaching staff, which will hope to instill a winning culture in the players donning one of the prettiest uniforms in sports. In the years to come, baffling losses to lesser teams, and collapses that became mainstays of the Dorrell era will vanish.
Again, the point is not to poormouth or unecessarily lower expectations simply because Rick Neuheisel is not Karl Dorrell. The point is to be realistic about the current scenario -- brutal schedule, number of starters/contributors lost to graduation, new schemes, offensive line problems, huge ? at QB -- and look for incremental improvements, to read between the lines so to speak in evaluating the season.
I don't speak for anyone else, but I won't be so quick to cut anyone any slack after Year One.