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So it looks like the local concern trolling panic that swept through LA’s traditional media following Ben Olson’s injury has gone national. Yesterday Ted Miller from WWL pointed to Ben Olson’s latest injury as the "biggest impact item of Pac-10 preseason camp":

At the start of Rick Neuheisel's first spring session with the Bruins, he was overseeing a competition between two quarterbacks with significant starting experience in a UCLA uniform -- Olson and Pat Cowan.

Now he has neither, though Kevin Craft, the likely starter, saw some action at San Diego State.

Last we checked, QB is an important position, particularly in this conference.

Sure, with Olson's long injury history, it's not surprising he's gone down. But let's face it: More than a few of us probably wondered if offensive coordinator Norm Chow would be the guy to transform Olson's obvious talent into consistent performances.

Neuheisel already was handed a flawed team. The offensive line is pure mix-and-match.

The defense will have to carry this team because the offense is probably going to struggle to score 20 points per game.

And that was before Olson went down.

Toss in one of the toughest schedules in the nation, and it could be a long season.

Ted then followed up those thoughts with a post about the best and worse case scenario for UCLA football in 08, which ranges from a win in Las Vegas Bowl (over Utah) to a long losing season. Actually Ted’s best-worst scenario is not that far from what we wrote back in July when we posted our dose of reality, projecting a season which could range from a record ranging from 3-9 to 6-6 regular season.

That said, I am still not sure whether we can label the latest injury to Olson as a "big impact." I don’t think Ted is concern trolling like the beat reporters in LA’s media (I think Ted is doing some solid work as WWL’s Pac-10 blogger). However, his post doesn’t reconcile with his thoughts on UCLA from earlier this summer when he had picked us to finish 8th in the conference.

How "big" of an impact Olson’s loss really is if his absence means that the Bruins instead of finishing 8th in the conference will finish 9th or dead last? Moreover, as we pointed to the facts gathered by Bruin Roar last week, in terms of game experience UCLA is not losing a lot from Olson’s injury given his mindboggling (and tragic) injury related issues throughout his Bruin career.

We were expecting Chow to turn Olson into a better game manager. However, we were not expecting miracles in terms of Chow turning Olson into a Heisman contender. Again folks should note Chow didn’t turn Carson Palmer into a Heisman winner in one season. Palmer’s light bulb didn’t go on (well you can insert lot of jokes here I know) until Chow’s second season at Southern Cal.

The fact of the matter even with Olson in the lineup, many of us here have been expecting a long/rebuilding season at UCLA. As pointed out above Ted himself predicted an 8th place finish for UCLA in the Pac-10, which would qualify for a long season. So given now that Olson is out I am not sure how we can label that as a "big impact" if that means UCLA instead of going 5-7 in the lineup ends with a record of 3-9 or 4-8.

The bottom line as we have said over and over again here this summer, we are not going to judge this team strictly by win or loss records. We are going to judge this team with the way our guys prepare themselves during practices:2763852723_aa1071f5a0_medium
Spaulding Prep:
Photo Credit: dabruins07's photostream (flickr)

We are going to look at the kind of effort they put forth on Saturdays, how they conduct themselves through expected adversity and work on establishing a foundation for the long term.

In terms of impact I don’t think anyone here cares whether Olson’s injury will cost us 1 or 2 extra losses in the short term. The impact that we will take into account is the kind of influence Neuheisel and his coaching staff will have in putting together a total program that will methodically bring itself out of the cycle of mediocrity it has been stuck in since December 5, 1998.

I don’t think that perspective would have changed even if we went into this season with a healthy Ben Olson. Like I said earlier this week, we are going to be all right.