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Monday Roundup

Game week. Can't believe it's already here. No more watching Fox Sports West to get my UCLA football fix. Next Saturday we get the real deal. Here are the stories to get you started for the big week:

LA Times has a report on 2 key freshmen - McGee and Verner- who will be called upon to play supporting roles in the defensive secondary:

With the uncertain status of injured junior cornerback Michael Norris, UCLA will probably feature two freshmen -- Alterraun Verner and Jeremy McGee -- in backup roles for Saturday's season opener against Utah at the Rose Bowl.

"[He's] been a bright spot for us since he's arrived here," Coach Karl Dorrell said about Verner, who has been working behind starting right cornerback Rodney Van.

"So he's been very, very entrenched with what we have been doing defensively," Dorrell said. "He's solidified himself as being a solid backup for us and he will also play some special teams for us."

McGee, who moved from tailback to cornerback a week ago, will also be a special-teams regular and has been working as No. 2 left cornerback behind Trey Brown.

"It makes me feel good as an athlete to be switched like this because it looks like I can really help the team," McGee said. "That makes me know that they want me to contribute."

In high school, McGee -- who attended McKinley High in Baton Rouge, La., as a senior after being forced to leave New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was mainly used on offense and as a kick returner. But in his first week playing defense at UCLA, McGee made major strides and displayed some noticeable skills at cornerback.
Well these guys are going to get their chances to show their skills right away against Utah's spread offense this Saturday.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side the Southpaw Jesus is confident and looking sharp in practice:
Olson seems sharper since he officially was named UCLA's starter last week. He shared reps with Patrick Cowan before the announcement but now takes the majority of snaps in practice.

"I feel good," Olson said. "It's great getting the reps. Every day, I feel I'm getting better and better. (It's) tons (better). You're in there for longer periods of time. You can get in a flow type of thing as opposed to coming in for a couple of plays and going out for a couple of plays. That can get tough. I feel a lot more comfortable."
That was from the Daily News, which also has a nice note on the friendship between Cedric Bozeman and Junior Taylor. Bozeman as you know had a wonderful last season at UCLA coming off all his serious injuries. Taylor is hoping to replicate the same success and bring home a Pac-10 championship in football this upcoming season.

Taylor sounds optimistic, and speaking of that optimism, Husky fans are expecting UCLA to handle U-Dub in Seattle. U Dub Dish predicts UCLA to win against their beloved Huskies. Read their preview of one of our early games of the season.

Well not everyone in LA is buying the optimism coming out of Camp Dorrell:
Maybe Dorrell is running the classic misdirection play. The Bruins couldn't match up on the field, losing to USC, 66-19, last season. So if you can't beat them, talk like you're really close.

"We're eager to take the next step," Dorrell said.

That looks like a step down, and that's what makes Dorrell's act so interesting. The Bruins behave like they believe they're better, that last season was the beginning, not an aberration. But when you look at the bottom line, it's hard to hide the truth.

Reality, which publicists rarely like to mention, shows the Bruins with a lot of holes to fill, a difficult schedule that begins with Utah, ends with USC, and packs Cal, Notre Dame and the rest of the Pac-10 between, and one 10-2 season that needed four of the program's biggest comebacks to not be another 6-6 campaign.

All the confidence and talking makes you wonder if that publicity has been worth every penny. Then, you get a look at the UCLA football media guide and there's Dorrell in the midst of a four-clap, biting back a smile.

Pete Carroll and Jeff Tedford might not be on the cover of their team's media guides, but when you're coaching at USC and Cal, the media favorites to finish at the top of the Pac-10, you don't need the extra promotion. Especially if it is about as realistic as "Snakes on a Plane."
Ouch. Ok I disagree with him about our schedule being "difficult," and that we have too many "holes" to fill. I think we have laid out our case over this off-season on how we have enough talent to win 9 games and beat SC. But stories like this show the underpinning of instability in Dorrell's tenure in Westwood. He is not safe despite that so called contract-extension (which is really nothing but a schedule pay raise designed to look as extension to HS recruits) signed this off season. If UCLA doesn't meet the minimum expectations this season, expect Dorrell's seat to get warm - very warm. That is why I think the national media is missing a big story out West when they are leaving out Dorrell in the mix of one of the coaches on the hot-seat.  More on national media missing the West Coast story lines later this week.