Last Wednesday UCLA released its official media guide for the 2011 football season. Many of us poured through it as you can see the discussions from the comment thread here. We also went back in and took another look. Based on all the great feedback we got from the comment threads and a second look, here are some of pointers that stand out for now. I am sure we will have more when we all go through the depth chart in the coming days:
- Jeff Baca as of right now is listed as the starter for weakside guard and Casey Griffiths is listed as his backup, but checking in at only at 284 lbs. Griffith's numbers are interesting because in the spring outlook he was listed at 292. Griffith is not the only OL who shed some lbs this of-season.
- Sheller at 302 is the starter at weakside tackle, backed up by Connor Bradford, who weighs in at 275. Interestingly both of them also lost weight compared to their spring numbers when respectively they were listed at 315 and 278.
- Mike Harris gets the starting nod at strongside tackle, weighing in at 326. Mike also shed 8 pounds of his spring numbers at 334. Chris Ward at strongside guard seems to be the exception at OL, moving up to 330 from spring weight at 325.
- At QB there is an "or" between Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, that undercut the off-season rumors about coaches writing Brehaut off. True freshman Brett Hundley went down from spring listed 225 to 210.
- Not a lot of noticeable difference in weight at the RB position. How the coaches divvy up playing time between Malcolm Jones and Jordan James should be another fun subplot to watch.
Moving over to defense after the jump.
- The loss of weight is also apparent on the defensive line. Cassius Marsh went down from 295 to 289. Nate Chandler wet down went down from 298 to 292. Donovan Carter went down from 305 to 295 and Justin Edison went down from 292 to 285. Seali'i Epenesa - a kid that I am really excited to see this coming season - went down from 323 to 308.
- It's at the DE position where we see some marginal gains. Damien Holmes was one of the few who gained lbs this off-season. The DE went up from 265 to 270. Similarly Datone Jones went up a little from 272 to 275. Owamagbe Odighizuwa went up from 264 to 266. Keenan Graham went up from 255 to 260. Wesley Flowers seems to be one of the few exceptions at DE who went down from 264 to 254. Still there seems to be a trend here. Doesn't it?
- Our DT/DE roster looks pretty deep. Don't think we have seen UCLA stocked up like this at this spot in a while. We will have more on this when we go through the rosters hopefully in the coming days.
- Not a lot of noticeable difference in the weight of LB corps. It appears that Jordan Zumwalt went up from 230 to 236. Zumwalt was really challenged by coaches during spring when he lost his starting spot. It will be interesting to see how he comes out during the upcoming camp. We should also keep an eye on Eric Kendricks to see if he can make a charge at Sean Westgate for the top spot at WLB.
- In the defensive backfield Dalton Hilliard went up from 189 to 200. That is an exciting development. Dalton is one of the most ferocious hitters in the team. So if he can pack more punch in his hits ... that is going to be very very nice. The battle between Sheldon Price and Anthony Jefferson is going to be interesting, Plus, anxious to have Brandon Sermons getting back in action.
- The depth chart does not include any FR who didn't participate in spring drills. Obviously, it's pretty tough to count on any FR to make any early impact, but I think we should all keep an eye on Devin Lucien, Kevin McReynolds, Ben Wysocki, and Raymond Nelson to make possible moves up the depth chart. Lucien and McReynolds are both very talented players, and Wysocki and Nelson really fill positions of need.
If you need to go back and take a look at spring weight/outlook you can do it here.
So there you have it. Seems like there is a trend wrt to weight. The OL and DTs seem to have gotten a little leaner, while the DEs have packed in some additional weight this off-season. Does this mean that our training regimen made these guys leaner and more athletic? I will certainly not make any conclusions until we see the results on the field.
The dominant storylines of last few years have been our issue at OL and at QB. When you look through the depth chart any obvious answers for those issues do not pop up yet. However, I still do not think our situation at OL is as dire as many think it is. I may turn out to be totally wrong on that but it appears to me that for the first time in a while we do have some options. I guess the question is whether Bob Palcic and Rick Neuheisel can manage around the attrition that may take place before the return of Baca.
As for QBs, no need to rehash tired stories (at least for now). We will see the results this fall. That said, I do think we have some depth at skill positions and on the defensive side, it's been a while for UCLA to have viable options at 2 and 3 deep.
While there are good reasons to be concerned about our program, looking at this depth, I also see many reasons to be intrigued about this upcoming season. Everyone and their mother is counting UCLA out, predicting the Bruins to finish either last or dead last in our division. These kids are not operating in a vacuum and I am sure they are reading all the clips. Collective this bunch has enough talent accumulated through good recruiting in last 3 years that I think they have the potential to regain the momentum from 2009-10 season. Excited to see how the story unfolds in next few weeks and months.