Let's start the morning with more great news from the recruiting front. Give all our recent discussion on offensive line recruiting, it is only appropriate that yet another OL committed to Coach Rick Neuheisel yesterday. Per Brandon Huffman of Bruin Report Online, Jacob Brendal from Plano, Texas, who happens to be the sixth ranked center in the country committed to UCLA last night (HT uclaves).
Jacob becomes the 4th OL commitment and 6th overall commitment of UCLA's class of 2011, which CRN and his staff are clearly building with a focus on the trenches. Brendel will also become the 12th OL recruit from last three years (and Bruins might not be done this year yet). So, I think people can pretty much stop with the nonsense that CRN is still simply obsessed with recruiting skilled positions, like he might have been at his previous stops.
What I also like about our current crop of OL recruits is that they are all coming in with kind of body frames, that can be developed through methodical S&C regimens in college. The approach CRN and his staff have been using wrt to OL recruiting is different from the one Bob Toledo had in the late 90s, who simply was going after huge bodies out of high school, who didn't develop as many had hoped during their college careers. We will see how it all works out under CRN.
Brendel's offer list is pretty impressive including schools such as California and Stanford, which as demonstrated previously, have done a pretty solid job of developing OL in recent years. You can also take a look at some of his highlight clips via ESPN here. So welcome to Westwood Jacob. More football notes after the jump.
So let's go back to one of the popular discussion topics for this time of summer, which is the expectations for this coming season. Over here we have been talking for a while about how the reasonable range for UCLA football for this coming season is somewhere in the middle of 5-7 and 9-3 record. Yesterday stumbled into this nugget from Rival.com's Oli Buchanan, who had this to say while discussing possible "underrated teams in 2010":
It would come as no surprise here if UCLA, which is ranked 63rd, has a better showing than some may expect. The Bruins' quarterback and offensive line situations should improve and the defense, despite some significant losses from last season, still will be solid. No team anywhere will have better special teams. K Kai Forbath will give the Bruins an edge in any close game. UCLA has made gradual progress under coach Rick Neuheisel. Now, in his third season, the Bruins may make a run at eight or nine victories in 2010.
Shhhh. Don't share that too much Oli. Well obviously Oli is looking at the high end of our expectations range. We will see if that materializes as it also depends on the health of our big guys in the trenches and of course on Kevin Prince's decision to wear his mouthpiece.
While UCLA fans need to keep their expectations in the reasonable range, it is kind of amusing to see what some other fans around the conference are thinking about facing off UCLA this upcoming. From Andy Panda at Building The Dam:
The trip to the Rose Bowl will be another game that goes a lot like it did two years ago, with Rick Neuheisel's improved Bruins giving the Beavers all they can handle for a while. But as happened the week before against the other Bears, offensively challenged UCLA won't put enough points on the board, and OSU will head home with the win.
Right, it will be just like the game from two years ago with Kevin Craft calling the signals. Somehow last year's game, which UCLA would have won if not for a sure fired dropped pick-6 from ATV in the closing min. Anyway, let's hope Oregon State team is thinking the same way when they come down to the Rose Bowl. Speaking of woulda, coulda, shoulda, this is even more amusing observation from Washington's UW Dawg Pound, putting UCLA in the category of sure wins for the Huskies:
Rick Neuheisel pulled one out of his shorts when UCLA beat UW last season. The loss knocked UW out of bowl contention. A missed UW field goal and a late interception gave the Bruins the win. Washington was a better team last year and they are the better team this season.
Hmm. I seemed to remember a different game in which the UCLA offense was dominating a Husky defense, until Donald Butler took out Kevin Prince with one of the cheapest shots of last year's Pac-10 season. What I remember was after Prince went out, our defense did a pretty good job of throttling and pressuring Jake Locker, gutting out a solid win. It is kind of funny to see Husky fans proclaim UDub at the better team even after losing to us with our backup QB.
Heading into this year's game, I do think the Huskies are going to be the favorites given they are playing at home and will be lathered up with CRN hate on a Thursday night ESPN game (still don't think it was a smart idea for UCLA to agree to Thursday night dates for Eugene and Seattle in the same year). While the Huskies should have the upper hand with their Heisman contending QB (at least according to all the pre-season pubs), I doubt our football team is going to be intimidated going into this matchup. We will see.
Anyway, don't mind fans from other schools thinking of UCLA this way heading into this season. I think it will work out well if the teams and fans from rest of the Pac-10 keep thinking of the Bruins this way. On our end, if we keep building on the progress from end of last season, and the steps we have taken this off-season, 2010 will shape up as a pretty decent year. Can't wait.