We have been pretty clear over here about our expectations for this upcoming season. We want 9 wins from Karl Dorrell in his third season, the money season of his program. He has gotten off to a disastrous start in Westwood producing a 12-13 record, with only 1 win against a team with a winning record. But that kind of mediocrity will simply not be acceptable in his third season (yes 7 wins and seven straight loss to USC will not count either), considering the kind of talent we have on our roster and the cupcake schedule we will be facing this season.
And, one of the biggest reasons we are so adamant about UCLA producing a 9 win season, is none other than our superstar tailback Maurice Drew, who should be emerging (and be heavily promoted by the Dellins crew from the Morgan Center) as a primetime Heisman contender during this upcoming season:
Photo Credit: Paul E. Rodriguez, the Orange County Register
Well are we nuts for suggesting a Drew for Heisman campaign? Absolutely not. UCLA's PR department should make sure they have their stuff ready to unleash this campaign, because Drew is a heisman caliber athlete. Who else is saying this? Well the HeismanPundit of course, pointing to this Steve Bisheff profile of Drew in the OC Register:
Same size, same dial-a-move style, same penchant for finding the end zone, but, somehow, not the same celebrated status.
UCLA's Maurice Drew knows all about USC's Reggie Bush, but instead of being jealous of the Trojans' electric tailback who is among the Heisman Trophy favorites, he uses him for motivation.
The similarities between these two flashy juniors are impossible to dismiss. Drew is 5-foot-8 and weighs 205 pounds. Bush is generously listed at 6 feet and weighs 200 pounds.
In 2004, Drew ran for 1,069 yards averaging 6.3 per carry. Reggie rushed for 908 and averaged the same 6.3. Drew had 1,606 all-purpose yards. Bush finished with 2,330. Both regularly do things in the open field that make your jaw drop.
Yet the one from USC is pictured on all the preseason college football magazines, and the one from UCLA is not.
"When you look at our program, and the profile of our program in the future, it's Maurice Drew," Coach Karl Dorrell said.
"When I hear Coach say those kinds of things about me, I want to keep working to reach the expectations he has for me," Drew said. "I don't want to let him down."
Yes,we are fully expecting a Heisman caliber season from Drew playing in an offense, which has to show improvement over last season. And it sounds like the offensive coaching staff has gotten the message. Boosting an OL, which they claim to be the best ever they have had in Westwood, they are expecting improvements upon an offense, which scored 30 pts. a game last season. Here is Dohn on our OL in this morning's report (emphasis mine):
Those are two of the benefits Bruins senior center Mike McCloskey sees when assessing the offensive line. Sure, the Bruins have two new starters on the unit, but a quicker, more athletic group than a year ago is expected to enable UCLA's offense to excel.
"We're going to be able to do stuff that we tried to do last year, but couldn't quite accomplish because we didn't have this athletic of an offensive line," McCloskey said. "Hopefully, it'll spread the line of scrimmage out, and there will be a lot more lanes to run in. We'll be able to cover a lot more space. We'll be able to get out on screens and (block) linebackers down the field."
The upgrade in athleticism comes in the form of new strong tackle Brian Abraham, who is 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, and new weak tackle Chris Joseph, who is 6-4, 290 pounds. Both are sophomores.
Bruins offensive coordinator Tom Cable said he believed the unit, which also features returning starters Ed Blanton at weak tackle, Shannon Tevaga at strong guard and McCloskey, is stronger than last season's.
"This is our best group we've had since we've been here, and we're young," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "You have to be able to move with quickness and explosion. Not necessarily just straight ahead, but on angles. It's one of the better groups we've had in a while."
The Bruins last season averaged 184.9 rushing yards per game, 410 yards total offense and 30.1 points. Each was a significant improvement from 2003, and the Bruins think they will improve in all areas this season.