Just two more weeks to go before football officially gets started out at Spaulding Field. Next week the Pac-10 will have its annual "Media Day" when coaches and key players from each team will be setting the tone for upcoming season. This year it will be Rahim Moore representing the Bruins. The official site has already put out releasing with notes on the upcoming season which includes a look at our brutal schedule:
Overall, the record of UCLA's 2010 opponents was 90-64 (.584) in the 2009 season. Eight of the schools (Texas 13-1, Houston 10-4, Oregon 10-3, USC 9-4, Arizona 8-5, Oregon State 8-5, Cal 8-5, Stanford 8-5) won at least eight games. The home opponents for 2010 posted a 44-34 (.564) record in 2009, while the road opponents compiled a 46-30 (.605) mark last season. The first four opponents on the schedule put together a 37-16 (.698) mark last season.
Three teams on the 2010 schedule finished in the final 2010 USA Today Top 25 poll - No. 2 Texas, No. 11 Oregon, No. 20 USC. Eight of the 12 opponents played in bowl games following the 2009 campaign (Arizona in the Holiday Bowl; USC in the Emerald Bowl; Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl; Stanford in the Sun Bowl; Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, Houston in Armed Forces Bowl, Texas in the BCS Championship Game). The Bruins will meet five of those bowl teams at home in Pasadena this season.
You can read rest of the notes here. As for summer, Bruins have one more week left of school and summer workouts. Taylor Embree gave his thoughts on what he and his team-mates are preparing for heading into this last week and a little flavor of what has taken place in recent weeks:
Our summer session is coming to an end and we have one more week left of school and summer workouts. The past two weeks of workouts have been some of the more intense workouts of the year. This week is our last week of regular workouts and player-run practices. We are beginning to prepare for our biggest week of the summer where we will be tested on our lifts, agility and vertical jump to see the progress we have made individually and as a team over summer. This testing period should have some big numbers. On my watch list is Ryan Taylor for squats, Kai Maiava for bench and Nate Chandler for power cleans.
On the field, competition between the offense and defense has really picked up the last two weeks of throwing. Players on both sides of the ball have made their share of plays.
Aaron Hester has played a major role in raising the intensity of our 1 on 1s and 7 on 7s with the defense and offense. Aaron has played real physical and made some nice plays on the ball, forcing all of us wide outs to play more aggressively. Nelson Rosario has made some spectacular catches, one on a post route in the red zone over 2 defenders. Freshmen Aramide Olaniyan and Tevin McDonald have both made some big plays during 7 on 7. Tevin has had a few pass break ups, and Aramide had a nice interception in the red zone. The freshmen have done a great job this summer of learning the plays and listening to the advice from the older players. I am excited to see how they will do in fall camp.
Taylor isn't the only veteran raving about the freshman. Jon Gold caught up with Kevin Prince after one of the summer workouts who was equally effusive about the efforts from the incoming class. More on Prince's thoughts and other notes from these workouts after the jump.
Per Gold Prince has been in "absolute" command during the "7-on-7" scrimmage:
* Prince continues to grow in his role as team captain, and was absolutely in command of the entire team out there today. Micah Kia was out with the 7-on-7 guys for a little while before returning to the film room to rejoin the offensive linemen, and the team is really going to need that leadership from him, too.
* Even on completions, Prince was in guy's faces, correcting sloppy routes or even just congratulating them. His arm looked very strong, but he was off on a few throws, and the timing does not look perfect.
Have heard similar feedback about Prince's leadership and comfort level during this practices from others who have attended the scrimmages this summer. When Gold spoke to Prince he talked about how impressed he has been with our running backs on offense and with Aramide Olaniyan and Dietrich Riley on defense:
Besides Barr, who are the other guys that have stepped up in your mind?
KP: "Man, there are some big-time guys. You can just tell by the size of these guys. It's tough to say for the defensive linemen we got just because we're not doing contact, but as far as offense, I like Jordon James a lot. He's a quick guy, real down-to-earth, smart. He seems like he can pick up things, and what really helps is if you're smart and can pick up things. Barr's like that. So is Malcolm Jones, even though we're not running the ball that much right now."
KP: "You've got AO, who's just a physical specimen, just making plays out here all the time. Dietrich Riley's really been doing well. The first week we were out here, I think he had a couple interceptions. He's got really good what Coach Chow calls 'giddy-up' speed. When he gets beat, he can make that space up. He'll be a player for us. It's exciting to see those guys come in and probably able to compete for us right away."
His impressions on AO are interesting. I still think AO will most likely head towards a red shirt season because we do have depth with talented reserves from last two years vying for starting positions. Yet, if he continues to impress during August camp, who knows. As for Riley, given the speed and athleticism he can bring, I have a feeling coaches are going to look at every option to get him on the field.
As for other observations, it looks like injured WR Josh Smith (our CU transfer who got hurt this spring) is back in action and working to get back in playing shape:
Josh Smith does not look 100 percent, but he's close. He stayed step-for-step with Sheldon Price on a deep ball, and he had a beautiful catch-and-run that had some guys falling over laughing. The guy doesn't run with the ball, he dances with it.
The reports from Gold are certainly encouraging. These 7-on-7 practices can be helpful in terms of developing chemistry among our guys for the passing game. Yet as weary UCLA fans, who have been through so many disappointments in recent decade, we'd advise to keep everyone's excitement in check.
What I am hoping for is that based on the experience from this past season and the productive spring practice and what looks to be a solid summer, the team gets a good rhythm going early during practices this Fall. Hopefully these guys will be maintaining their excitement and passion throughout the camp and get ready. They will need to be patient and focused for what is going to be an extremely tough schedule but a potentially very rewarding season should the team take another methodical step forward to build on the successes from this past season.
Should be fun to watch to see how the drama unfolds in the coming months. For now it's a relief to know summer is coming to an end with football on the horizon in Westwood.