Spaulding Roundup: Calibrated UCLA Season Expectations, Moore’s Off-Season & Price’s Payday

Let's start this round up with another 2010 pre-season preview on UCLA. This time it is from Richard Cirminiello of CollegeFootballNews.com and I think it is one of the better ones I have read with reality based takes on our Bruins.  Cirminiello's top lines on UCLA are on the mark (emphasis added throughout):

UCLA took a step in the right direction in Rick Neuheisel's second year, poking its head above the .500 mark with an EagleBank Bowl win over Temple. Yeah, it was a baby step, but a much-needed one at that.

Anyone who expected a bridge to the upper echelon of the Pac-10 to be built overnight is probably already disappointed. And more than a little delusional. When Neuheisel replaced Karl Dorrell two years ago, he inherited a mess, especially on the offensive side of the ball. He and his staff have taken the right steps toward prosperity, scoring big on the recruiting trail in all three of their attempts. While the talent is much better, it's also green in key areas, such as quarterback. [...]

It's been a good offseason in Westwood. UCLA continued to amass more blue-chip recruits, while Pete Carroll left rival USC for the NFL. The Bruins aren't quite there, but they've got their best chance in years to narrow the divide and start closing the gap on the Pac-10 elite.

It is also hard to disagree with the keys to success Cirminiello lays out for our season:

Key players to a successful season:  The offensive line. Sure, the evolution of Prince at quarterback will be critical, but if the line doesn't contain opposing defenses, will it really matter? The point is that UCLA has talent behind center and at the skill positions, but you probably won't know it if the other team is constantly harassing Prince and gumming up running lanes for Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman. If the offense is going to have a chance to move forward, it needs the front wall to carry its weight for a change.

Guess I would have also added the names of Malcolm Jones into the mix with Jet Ski and Coleman. In terms of season expectations, Cirminiello sets the number between 5-9 wins range we have hearing and reading about this off-season:

The season will be a success if ... the Bruins take another step forward by winning seven regular season games. Sure, it's not too aggressive, but then again, this team has concerns on both sides of the ball and a thorny non-conference schedule that includes trips to Texas and Kansas State, and a visit from Houston. Moving up the Pac-10 ladder would be a sign of progress, as would getting Prince closer to being the program's franchise quarterback.

I think that is just about right. The key to success this season will be improving our position up the Pac-10 ladder. If that translates into a winning record during the conference season, that will give us more than enough to stay on the trajectory of methodical and gradual recovery we have been undergoing since CRN's arrival in Westwood. We will discuss the status of Prince and our OL in more detail when we go through the depth chart on the offensive side.  

Meanwhile, the play of Rahim Moore is going to be one of the keys on the defensive side.  Recently Courtney Jones of FOX Sports West & PRIMETICKET sat down with one of the Bruin captains and got the low down on what Moore has been doing to prepare this off-season:

Q: UCLA will open its 2010 pre-season football practice on Monday, August 9. What have you worked on during the offseason to prepare you for the 2010-11 season?

A: I spent a lot of time in the film room to learn from a few NFL guys. I've been watching a lot of Ed Reed [S, Baltimore Ravens], Nnamdi Asomugha [CB, Oakland Raiders] and Darrelle Revis [CB, New York Jets] film. I looked at a lot of NFL tape to be able to see how the pros are doing it so I can take some of their game and implement it to my game. I also worked on strength, flexibility, durability and being a leader. It was important to me to get the guys around me better, especially the other young defensive backs. I wanted to give that knowledge to guys that don't have the most experience but that are constantly learning. I also learned that when you teach others you learn as you teach.

Q: I read that you have a very strict diet. What foods have you cut out this offseason and why?

A: I haven't consumed soda in like eight years; I don't eat candy, I stay away from fast foods. I've even made my diet stricter in the offseason. I let go of bread and certain carbs. I use to drink cranberry juice or apple juice, now I'm drinking water 24/7 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm trying to make myself a better person so one day when I'm 50, I look 20 or 30.

The whole interview is a must read which includes more on Rahim thoughts on the upcoming season and how he has taken on the leadership role of our team. The interview also had the scoop about Rahim representing his team-mates on Pac-10 Media Day, which is a big honor for the All American safety heading into his junior season in Westwood. I will have more on Rahim and rest of the DBs hopefully tomorrow am.

Elsewhere, you guys probably already know that Brian Price signed a 4 year deal with the Buccaneers. In case you were wondering here are the numbers on the parameters of Price's K:

"We've been informed that Brian Price's 4-year contract with the Bucs, agreed to on Tuesday, is worth a maximum of $5.35 million if he achieves all its benchmarks.

Price's deal gives him about an 8 percent bump over the contract signed by last year's 35th overall pick. He received a signing bonus of $2.72 million. Additionally, he will earn base salaries of $320,000 in 2009, $405,000 in 2011, $409,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in the final season, 2013."

As expected Brian is pretty excited about the deal:

"I'm glad my agent got the deal done, so now I can concentrate on having a great training camp," he said. "I'm looking forward to contributing to the Buccaneers' dominant defensive tradition."

As are the Bucs and their fans. Interestingly there was a note in TampaBay.com about Price missing "much of the offseason because of school commitments and because of a hamstring injury that restricted him considerably." I had heard about the injury but would love to find out more on "school commitments." So if anyone has more on this, please let us know. If this means Brian has been chipping away in finishing up his degree that would be great news we can all celebrate.

For the time being though a huge congratulations to Brian Price for his new deal. We are all excited for him and will be doing our best to keep track on hopefully what will turn out to be another great productive pro NFL career for a Bruin in Florida.

GO BRUINS.

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