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Monday Roundup

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I imagine we are going to hear sometime in next day or two about the Southpaw Jesus officially taking over as the next Olson of Westwood. Meanwhile, lot of good vibration stories coming out of Westwood this am, basically closing the book on all excuses for not meeting the minimum expectations for this upcoming season.

Let's kick it off with Lonnie White's article in the LA Times, who reports that depth will not be an issue this upcoming season:

Lack of depth has been a problem that UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell has dealt with each season. Whenever a starter dropped out of the lineup because of injury, the Bruins suffered.

But based on UCLA's scrimmage Saturday, that may not be a concern this season.

"We had some key players who didn't get any reps," said Dorrell, whose Bruins open the season against Utah on Sept. 2 at the Rose Bowl. "But I was pleased to see what the backup guys can do. A lot of them showed up and made some plays."

The Bruins had a productive scrimmage despite injuries to four of their top six receivers -- Junior Taylor (knee), Joe Cowan (knee), Gavin Ketchum (groin) and Marcus Everett (hamstring).

Senior walk-ons Matt Willis and Andrew Baumgartner combined to catch 10 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Brandon Breazell had five catches for 40 yards, and redshirt freshmen Jamil Turner and Ryan Graves combined for six catches, 68 yards and a touchdown.

Then there were freshmen Terrence Austin and Dominique Johnson, who each had two receptions and a touchdown.
Nice. As we wrote recievers/TEs are the deepest position of this time. They along with a solid group of RBs are going to step up and help out Big Ben in easing into action against Utah, Rice in the first two games. The offensive line may take a little time to gel. But that's ok. The schedule is set up perfectly for this offense to come along. We can get our first two wins and then have a bye week to work all the kinks before heading out to Seattle to take on the Hapless Huskies. Really there should be no excuse for this team not starting 5-0 given the schedule for this season.

Meanwhile, the defense is brimming with confidence. Again lot's of annual talk of new attitude and all that blah blah blah "team first" chatter. These guys are already talking a little after a scrimmage game against an O which was missing 4 of its top 6 receivers. From Brian Dohn:
[C]ornerback Rodney Van said the reason UCLA's defense, which performed well Saturday, will be better is because the egos have been filtered out.

In fact, Van pointed to the night before the scrimmage as proof. Middle linebacker Christian Taylor got the defense together to go over the playbook and make sure the defense was properly prepared.

"Years past, we had too many individuals attitudes," Van said. "Everybody felt like, `I need to worry about me. I don't need to help a younger person.' This year's attitude is we need to help everybody, because as a defense, we need everyone to play.

"We need everyone to know the defense. It's not a matter of, `I'm the starter, so I'm going to worry about me.' It's a matter of, `I need my whole defense to play well."'

The defense's play was solid from the line, to the linebackers to the secondary. There were few blown assignments, and the tackling was markedly improved from the past two seasons.

Players said new defensive coordinator De-Wayne Walker, who was brought in to fix one of the worst defenses in the nation, is much of the reason for the improvement.
Again all this chatter nice. I just like to see all this actually transpiring in games against quality opponents.

Let's see how our defensive guys come out against Utah, who themselves are talking a lot of trash. Check out this article from some local Utah rag. Apparently the Utes have two goals for this season: win MWC and beat UCLA:
Two goals, that's all.

No use trying to bait anyone on the University of Utah football team. The Utes won't discuss the possibility of going undefeated or reaching the Bowl Championship Series for the second time in three years. They're only focused on defeating UCLA and winning the Mountain West Conference.

"Two goals," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Everything else is icing on the cake."

With the season opener against the Bruins less than two weeks away, the Utes aren't looking too far ahead. The first goal is within sight.

"Their work ethic is right on the money at this point," Whittingham said. "Their focus and concentration is good."

So good, in fact, that the team is almost robot-like when asked about its goals for 2005.

"Beat UCLA and win the Mountain West," senior Eric Weddle said while acknowledging it may not be what reporters want to hear. "Of course we have high goals. If we beat UCLA and win the Mountain West, we'll see what happens after that."
Well it's nice to have goals I guess. Good for the Utes. Whatever they need to get themselves fired up. As for us if Dorrell loses this game it will immediately shatter whatever faux aura of stability the Morgan Center crew has built up in last few weeks based on that little pay raise in his contract. If Dorrell loses this game, it will get ugly and it will kick the season off to a poisonous start which may have an impact on rest of the season. But it won't happen, Again if you look through our depth charts: OL, WRs/TEs, RBs, LB/DLs, DBs, we simply have too much talent. There will be no excuse for dropping the season opener against some no-name team from a no-name conference from a flyover state at the Rose Bowl. Dorrell will have to get it done. His team sounds ready. Now all there is left is to give Big Ben the starting nod and get final preparations underway. We need to start off the season on the right foot on September 2nd otherwise it is gonna be a long year. Just 12 more days left.