Jonathan Franklin will be one of the key players for UCLA in 2012 (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
As the 2012 college football season approaches, we are privvy to more and more previews of UCLA football from varoius publications and web sites. We recently discussed Phil Steele's projections here.
This time, we take a look at a preview from the WWL, which has apparently teamed up with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to cover all FBS teams, probably because they're too lazy to do anything themselves.
The overview provides nothing new to BN regulars who are well versed in the state of the UCLA football program. There are a few nitpicks that prove some lack of awareness, such as this one (emphasis mine):
Mora is counting on his NFL experience to help choose and convince top talent to come to Westwood and then the knowledge of how the best of the best do it to turn the players into winners. It's a tall order, and for the third straight time, UCLA has gone with an unconventional hire. It's time to see if Mora can get the job done, where others couldn't.
That is a pretty ignorant assessment when in fact, Jim Mora is the first unconventional hire for UCLA in a long long time as he is the one with no prior UCLA affiliation. I really don't see what was so unconventional with the hiring of Neuheisel, a previous player with college coaching experience at major programs.
They are right in their first assessment though:
And, now, it's Jim Mora's turn. He'll take his place in the uninspiring lineup of Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel atop the UCLA football program, hoping he will be the one capable of returning the Bruins to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 14 years and the one who actually wins one for the first time since the 1984 Classic.
I guess UCLA somehow managed to hire coaches who were both uninspiring and unconventional. I think most of us were somewhat inspired at Neuheisel's hiring, though all those coaches certainly left on a down note. Anyway, on to the rest of the preview.
Quarterbacks: Blue Ribbon seems to think that Kevin Prince is at the top of the depth chart and that he had a "solid spring game". Richard Brehaut is seen as his "main competition". All the other QBs are quickly covered. I think most of us see this as a race between Brehaut and Hundley, but you knever know. Mostly, Mora is looking for consistency. We can only hope it'll be of the good kind.
Running Backs: nothing new on this, as Jonathan Franklin is clearly the leader at that position, followed by Malcolm Jones and Steven Manfro. Big things are expected of Franklin but we're all bracing for some surprise and hopefully one of the other guys will give us hope for the future.
Receivers: no surprises here either, with Fauria expected to do big things at the Y spot, and Shaq Evand and Jerry Johnson to step up and catch balls outside. There are a couple of potential surprises here, between Darrius Bell and Jordon James. I think Bell in particular will have an impact. And of course, our two incoming freshmen Payton and Walker could contribute right away.
Offensive Line: rightly noted as an area of concern due to lack of depth and little experience. Jeff Baca should be the rock of the unit, and we hope XSF will get back to his freshman form. The best line is what they had to say about Alex Ceachir:
He's as raw as they come but tougher than a two-dollar steak.
We have some incoming players with a lot of potential, but clearly it may take some time for this unit to get going. As always, we just have to pray for no major injuries.
Defensive Line: as we have noted previously, this should be an area of strength for the Bruins. The switch to a 3-4 will allow for some good depth and we should have some playmakers at that position. There are 5 players who to me look like they could be starters, and we have not had that luxury in quite a while. Hoping for a pass rush and not a pass crawl this year.
Linebackers / Defensive Backs: although we have some strong players in this unit, depth is a concern and there is a drop off after the starters. Newcomers at the cornerback position could help sooner than we think though.
Special Teams: we have no kicker yet, and our punt coverage and return teams were awful. Yes, we still have Jeff Locke and his Boomleg, but we hopefully won't have to rely on our punter to bail us out time and again.
In the end, Blue Ribbon doesn't expect UCLA to win any more games than last year, but unfortunately, and shortsightedly, they don't cover our schedule at all (which includes 7 home games) and barely talk about the competition. They don't even break down the conference and non-conference record, which seems rather lazy after going through a lengthy preview. If games are played on the field, it seems to me that those would be important details...