Not that I am counting or anything less than 80 hours left till kickoff. Another (mostly) positive roundup on this Hump day before season kickoff:
Let's start with a great article in the OC Register this morning. OC Jim Svoboda thinks Olson is ready and ahead of schedule:
"Knowing that you're going to get more reps makes you kind of slow down and you can really take your time" Olson said. "I know it sounds weird, but you can take your time and go through the plays and you go through more plays, so you're seeing more plays, you're seeing different defenses for that play and it just all kind of works in your favor. ....[...]
"We really challenged him in camp, and I like to do that simply because you have the big picture in mind," UCLA offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Svoboda said. "We wanted to expose them to the things that we're going to need the length of the season, so it was a lot. ... What's nice now is you're going to have a condensed group of plays that you're going to be preparing for Utah.
"But I think now he's probably considerably ahead (of the curve), simply because we've required more out of him. Last year at this time, we were splitting reps between four guys and so, by virtue of that, you can't put a lot of things in. There were things we had and he executed very well, but had we just stayed with that group of plays that wouldn't have served us the whole length of the season. This year we accelerated that process a little bit, with the hope that it would pay dividends down the road."
And Olson believes that he is ready to push back. The schedule up front is not too demanding - Utah in the opener is the only team the Bruins will play in the first five weeks of the season that had a winning record. The Utes were ranked only 59th of 117 Division I teams last season in total defense, followed by Rice (110th), Washington (94th), Stanford (105th) and Arizona (86th).
Photo from Adak Bruin
I have said before all we need Olson to do in first few games is to manage the game. As long as we slowly break him into the offense and get in rhythm he is going to be fine. He will get to show of his left cannon soon enough. But at least in the first game there is no pressure on him to mount a 4 play TD drive right off the bat. Complete some short passes. Get the backs/TEs involved, neutralize the Utah pass rush, and everything will fall in place. It is up to Dorrell and Svoboda to make sure Olson is in proper mindset going into the first game.
While Ben is looking is sharp in practice his running backs are ready and eager to show of their skills in the post MJD era. Lonnie White has a report on the UCLA running backs headlined by Markey, Bell, and the freshman Chane Train.
A slight downer news from the defensive report. Dohn reports that LB Eric McNeal will have to sit out the Utah game due to academic related issues (incomplete grade in a class - not ballroom dancing). McNeal lost the starting Will LB spot to RS frosh Reggie Carter. Oatis will backup Carter. Let's hope Eric gets the incomplete grade issue resolved soon.
Another interesting note from the defense. Dohn notes on his Inside UCLA blog that true frosh Alterraun Verner will probably playing nickel back this Saturday (since Norris missed another practice). This means we get to see one of the most talented frosh in the Pac-10 right off the bat.
So those are some of the news and notes that should get you started. Did I mention there is less than 80 hours left `till we get to see some of this. Go to the official site and check out the video on the top-left. It will get you all fired up.