Ajax has summed up my sentiments perfectly. It's not a secret how most of us here on BN are not convinced that Karl Dorrell has put together a proven commodity in Westwood. However, that said we are optimistic going into his fourth season. He still has enough athletes on this roster, which makes UCLA probably the third most talented team in the Pac-10. And we certainly believe our schedule is set up in a way, which should lead to a strong start ending up with a 9 wins and a victory over USC. And we like what we have been hearing about our defense from this training camp. Lot of that optimism is encapsulated in the LA Times's college football season preview, which came out today. Let's go to the roundup.
LA Times' UCLA preview not surprisingly focuses heavily on our much maligned defense. And the vibe is extremely positive. Loved these comments from the new DC on the defensive line:
In Walker's 4-3 scheme -- which features blitzes from all angles -- every defender has to be a strong tackler.
"I always tell guys that if they don't score, they don't win," Walker said of his philosophy. "We're going to have to be aggressive and we're not going to sit on our heels."
To help free the Bruins' undersized but mobile linemen, Walker will often attack with hard rushes from linebackers or defensive backs.
"He's brought a new attitude to the defense," senior defensive end Justin Hickman said about Walker. "We just have to be consistent with our effort and doing what we're told. We want to be able to dominate the whole game this year. We don't want to just play well for stretches, like we did last season. We need to get it done from the start of games."
The Times also has an article on UCLA linebackers Taylor, Whittington, and Carter. Not a lot of experience but they should be helped by the fact that we are going to have a deep 7-8 men rotation in the front-4. Plus, I am jacked to see the debut of Reggie Carter. The word is he earned his starting spot of senior LB Eric McNeal, who is sitting out this game because of an incomplete grade he received in a summer school class.
In addition to the LBers being a little inexperienced the secondary is a little stretched thin due to some injury issues. However, the coaches are not making any excuses (emphasis mine):
Forecasts of a high of 95 degrees in Pasadena could make for a sweltering field for the 4 p.m. kickoff, and take a toll on shorthanded secondary. Sophomore strong safety Bret Lockett is the only backup to have played in the defensive backfield, and that was in a mop-up role.
"Man, we're very thin in the secondary right now," Van said. "But we don't think about it too much because (defensive coordinator DeWayne) Walker gave us the mentality of right now, that's all we have, so we have to play with it. We can't look at the sidelines for a sub because there won't be one there."
Lonnie White also has a list of the big questions going into UCLA football season. And one of the x-factors he mentions - UCLA special teams - one of the best in the Pac-10:
Speaking of that new quarterback, OC Register reports how UCLA will be looking to add long ball to its offensive arsenal:
The West Coast offense is built on short throws, and the Bruins have not been particularly efficient on their deep throws in practice.
"We didn't work on it until just very recently, but the more we rep it (do repetitions) we'll get better," Olson said. "I have a lot of confidence in the receivers and that we can stretch the field. We have not necessarily done it a whole lot here in the past and it's like anything else, you have to practice it to get good at it."
The Bruins surely would benefit if they could stretch the field, given questions going into the season about a young and inexperienced offensive line and the running game. It might be difficult against the Utes, who were third in the Mountain West Conference last season in passing efficiency defense. Utah yielded just three scoring passes of more than 25 yards, and allowed opponents to complete just 54.5 percent of their passes.
"If you can stretch the field, it's big. It's funny," Olson said. "You don't even necessarily have to connect. But just to know that you have that threat makes those corners have to respect that."