Bruin Bites: Looking Toward Texas and Rating the Bruin Units

Stephen Dunn

UCLA's early season schedule and how it may set up individual and team success in 2014 is getting further attention by the media, while ESPN rates the Pac-12 by position group and CBS gets inspired from SBNation bloggers - from 3 years ago.

I hope everyone is having a good end of the work week and lead in to the 4th. With just over a month until Bruin Football gets started with the opening of fall camp in San Berdoo, we are still in a kind of dead season in college football. Yesterday's transfer announcements out of Washington count as the major concrete football news of the week, but there are a few other notes and bits of news floating around the bruinverse.

The Sporting News is the latest outlet to peg the September Bruin-Longhorn game in Texas as one of the significant games of this season's non-conference slate. In marking it as the top game of the 3rd week of the upcoming college football season, SN notes the significance of the game for both teams, with factors ranging from the early establishment of Brett Hundley's Heisman campaign to seeing how Texas responds to the start of the Charlie Strong era in Austin. But the main storyline is setting up a Bruin run to the inaugural (for D-1A) college football playoff.

"To me it's bigger for UCLA because UCLA has designs on breaking through. They've done such a great job putting together things under Jim Mora, but they haven't gotten over the hump. They've been so close. To them, this year with Brett Hundley coming back, so much talent coming back and a full system with Jim Mora Jr., they have designs on something bigger like a Pac-12 title. They fully believe they're going to be in the Final Four."

ESPN's Pac-12 Blog is in the process of ranking the various position groups of all of the conference's teams. This morning's look at defensive lines rates the Bruin unit 3rd in the conference, with Kenny Clark noted as a future star along with Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes as guys who could have an impact playing anywhere on the line, but no insights on Owa's return to the top of the depth chart from last fall's redshirt. Ted Miller's take on the offensive line is actually pretty solid - rating it the 4th best unit in the conference heading into fall camp, but with the talent to end up as the best by the end of the season.

CBS Sports has taken inspiration from SB Nation's 2011 College Football conference re-draft, and is running a series of posts based on an "NFL-style" draft to choose and divide up the top-32 college football programs. It does seem a little funny that the CBS writers have Jim Mora's 2014 UCLA program rated lower (#21) than our fellow SBN team bloggers rated the 2011 Rick Neuheisel-led Bruins (#13). The criteria behind the SBN draft was a little wider ranging than CBS's, but seeing how the Bruins look now, it appears the blogs were on the right rating path.

Looking at Bruins starting their journeys in the NFL, The Viking Age is counting down the top-25 Minnesota Viking players heading into the season. Anthony Barr came in at #22 with the major caveat that his role and extent of his playing time is unknown. As the writer notes:

Going on talent alone, you could make the case for Barr as a top five player on the current roster (just as you could have Cordarrelle Patterson last year). But our overall evaluation must be informed by our understanding of the circumstances. This being the case, the only fair thing is to exercise restraint and rank Barr low in the top 25.

Weekends this fall should be pretty fun, between watching the Bruins play on Saturday and the newest group of Bruins making their way through the NFL on Sundays.

In closing, several media reports have confirmed the death of Louis Zamperini at the age of 97. BN is not usually in the business of celebrating Trojans, but Mr. Zamperini is a worthy exception to that rule. He was a member of the US Track and Field team that humiliated Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and joined the Army Air Corps in the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought America into WWII. Following a plane crash that killed most of his crew, Louis spend 47 days with another survivor in a life raft in the middle of the Pacific, before being captured and sent to one of the more brutal Japanese POW camps to make it through the remaining 2+ years of the war. His story was told in a book that has been sitting in my Amazon wish list for way to long, and has been adapted into a film to be released at the end of the year. As for Louis' remarks on his feelings for the film's director... Who can blame him.

...It's sad to realize that you've lost all your friends," he said. "But I think I made up for it. I made a new friend -- Angelina Jolie. And the gal really loves me, she hugs me and kisses me, so I can't complain."

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