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Spaulding Roundup: Excited Lineman, Season Expectations & Other UCLA Notes

Let's start the Humpday walk by following up on yesterday's post on the latest Bruin commit Ben Wysocki.  Jon Gold from the Daily News caught up with the OL from Los Alamitos. Wysocki is pretty excited to play for the UCLA coaching staff:

Ben, you've said you wanted to complete the recruiting process and go on visits, yet you commit early to UCLA, why?

"I just saw it as a place that I'd fit in perfectly. They're building the offensive line and defensive line this year after going heavy on skill positions last year, and I saw myself fitting right into the loop there."

What about the UCLA coaching staff interests you?

"They are all just so familiar with the game. I went to the two camps, and to see how much they wanted me to come on board was awesome. They're so enthusiastic about the game. They're so positive. It really sucked me in."

What about Coach Neuheisel sealed the deal?

"He's a really straight-forward guy. I called him up and he said, 'Are we going to get this done? What's it going to take to get you in the boat?' He really makes it individual between you and him. He was really trying to get me on board. I think that's what attracts a lot of guys. What he says, he really means. He wants to make this as strong as it can get, and I loved that."

You can read rest of the Q&A here. It will be fun to follow Wysocki's continued development through his senior season in Los Alamitos. Bruins still have few other OL recruits, who we are targeting aggressively this year.  Seems like we are on track on addressing our need to keep building out our lines.

Sticking with football, let's talk a little bit about expectations. Not sure how many of you use Football Outsiders Alamanac, another pre-season publication some hard core football junkies to browse over during the off-season. They are coming out with their season preview soon (which can be purchased here). We got a hold of a copy via our colleague Bill C. at Rock M Nation. Here was the preview of UCLA program in which they predicted the Bruins to win 5 total games this season (3 in the Pac-10):

Two years into the Rick Neuheisel era, UCLA has been handed an opportunity. USC's aura of invincibility has wafted away, thanks to both the end of their seven-year conference title streak and the potentially devastating NCAA sanctions. The Bruins have recruited rather well over the years, and that's led to some improvement (from 4-8 in 2008 to 7-6 in 2009). But if ever the Bruins were going to take a large step forward, now would be the time.

To do so, the offensive-minded Neuheisel is going to have to find an offense. The Bruins were atrocious last year - they couldn't pass and they really couldn't run. They particularly had no magic when it came to converting passing downs. Eight starters return, which is at least good in theory.

Four different Bruins threw passes last year, but the most encouraging work came from redshirt freshman Kevin Prince. If Prince, now a sophomore, can make improvements typical of a quarterback in his third year out of high school, he could be solid, especially with potential stars in junior receivers Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario. UCLA is breaking in a bit of the pistol formation this year, which could mean good things for the running game.

An improved offense will be a welcome sight to a defense that consistently bailed the Bruins out in 2009. Outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is a ridiculously talented athlete, but questions might arise on the defensive line, where end Datone Jones is the only returning starter. If players like end Damien Holmes and tight-end-turned-defensive-tackle Nate Chandler step up, the rest of the defense should be as solid as usual. Free safety Rahim Moore led the country with ten interceptions a year ago, and the secondary is experienced and athletic.

Well there are always problems with generic predictions like this and few glaring ones stand out right away in this one. As we have shown number of times, it is a little too simplistic to suggest the Bruins were atrocious on offense last year. The Bruins didn't light the world on fire. However, for those who follow the program closely knew the progress offense made under Chow and Palcic, in Neuheisel's second season in Westwood. As noted to utesfan100, contrary to conventional wisdom our offense took incremental steps forward with better line play, statistical improvement in rushing game, and an encouraging first year from red shirt freshman QB starter Kevin Prince.

They are also off on the pronouncement that Bruins need to take a large step forward now. As has been discussed numerous times, it is always has been about making steady progress, following the program devastation under Karl Dorrell.  Still the over all projection by Football Outsiders is not completely off. I don't think Bruins are going to have a losing season.  However, the reasonable range for UCLA football for this coming season is somewhere in the middle of 5-7 and 9-3 record. Realistically, if UCLA can remain relatively injury free this year and can put together a winning record in conference play, it will give CRN more than enough ammo to keep the momentum going heading into his fourth season in Westwood.  The key for us will be the health of our starting QB and the big guys down in the trenches.

While we are on the topic of football, stumbled into a very amusing YouTube clip of Nevada head coach Chris Ault sporting a UCLA cap during the recent CWS action in Omaha. The way clip is frame it appears that the Nevada fan took offense to Ault wearing a Bruin hat calling him the "future coach at UCLA." Of course the regular readers here should know the backstory. Chris Ault happens to be the Dad of Lisa Savage, the other half of College Baseball's manager of the year John Savage.

It was Mrs. Savage, who also connected the UCLA coaching staff of Neuheisel and Chow to Chris Ault leading the way to trying out revolver formations at Spaulding this spring. IIRC, Chris Ault is also good friends with Dan Guerrero and recommended John Savage to him as a baseball coach dating back to when he was a pitching coach at Southern Cal. So Nevada fans can relax and breathe. Ault is just an extended part of Bruin family.

Lastly, since we are on the topic of "family" we will end with the latest Trogan blame game (emphasis added):

The departure of Seantrel Henderson means one thing: USC signed just one offensive lineman in this recruiting class. Blame Pete Carroll for doing a poor job recruiting offensive linemen and leaving Lane Kiffin little time to recover.

Trogan "forever" I guess.