While we wait for our pre-season camp to officially start tomorrow, let's check in a little bit with our first opponent - Kansas State Wildcats - which opened its camp on August 4. The Wildcats have been selected to finish third in the 2010 Big 12 North race. They return 40 lettermen and 15 total starters from last season's 6-6 team that was one win shy of advancing to the Big 12 Championship game.
One of the big storylines for the Wildcats during their pre-season camp will be to find out who emerge as their starting QB. At this point of time it appears three guys are vying for that spot without any clear cut frontrunner. From the Kansas City Star:
A quarterback hierarchy has been established at Kansas State.
Coming out of spring practices, Coffman, a senior who started four games last season, held a slight lead over Klein in the race to be the starter, and Klein had distanced himself considerably from Lamur. But with the Sept. 4 season-opener against UCLA now less than a month away, K-State coach Bill Snyder considers all three to be on fairly level footing.
"When we take the reps, Carson takes the first, Collin takes the second and Sammuel takes the third," Snyder said. "We're not going to invest that kind of repetition unless there's a belief that they're on an equal stage and will remain competitive."
Just like last season, the Wildcats entered training camp without a clear-cut starter at the most important position on the roster.
Coffman won the job last summer over Grant Gregory, but lost it as Big 12 play began. A sensational performance in the spring game elevated Coffman back to the top of the preseason depth chart, and he is using the memory of being a backup last season to motivate him this time around.
Coffman happens to be one the captains for this Wildcat team. He is a pocket passer and according to the report above "expects to be picked as the starter." The guy to keep an eye on is Sammuel Lemur, who is a JC transfer. Apparently he vowed the Wildcats with the "practice squad" during his redshirt season but was still struggling to grasp Snyder's K-State offense.
Snyder is going to be picking his starter about 10 days before our game. It's something we will have to keep an eye on during next couple of weeks. Make sure to check in with our SBN colleagues at Bring on the Cats time to time, as we are sure they are going to be closely tracking all the details coming out of Manhattan.
Shifting focus back to our team, Ted Miller from ESPN's Pac-10 blog has been doing a generic walkthrough of all the Pac-10 defensive unit in recent days. His findings wrt to our team is not earth shattering but still worth taking note of to find out what outsiders are thinking about our program.
Per Miller, UCLA is in "good shape" at LBs:
The Bruins are breaking in two new starters next to Ayers, though MLB Steve Sloan started nine games in 2008. But Ayers may end up the conference's defensive Player of the Year, so he makes up for a lot of the issues here.
at defensive end:
and at cornerbacks:
It isn't easy to replace an Alterraun Verner. Sheldon Price returns at left cornerback after a good freshman season as a starter, and Aaron Hester has potential on the opposite side. Undersized junior Courtney Viney is an experienced third option.
Not surprisingly he puts UCLA in "we'll see" category at DT:
I think the guy to keep an eye on will be Justin Edison. Lot of us didn't expect much from him in recent years. During his limited action this past year he didn't look all that much. However, he has had a tremendous off-season in last few months, gaining 20+ lbs in the weight room. If he can provide meaningful contribution in Todd Howard's rotation, it will be a long way in addressing the question marks around this position.
Miller hasn't done his review for the safety positions yet. Don't think we have to hold our breath on how he will grade the position for Bruins with Tony Dye at SS and you know who manning the FS spot.
Lastly, the OC Register's UCLA blog has a post up listing "4 Big Dates" on UCLA's schedule. I am not sure why they bothered to include the date against Southern Cal. If a "UCLA fan" has to be told that game is a "big" one for the Bruins, then he or she is most likely not a Bruin fan to begin with. The other three games listed are the ones against Stanford, Texas and California.
I think it's the game against Stanford that will really set the tone for this coming season. It is going to be our first home game of the year against a team, which despite losing its final two games of the year, is getting mad hype around the efforts of Jim Harbaugh. I still wonder what the score against the Cardinal would have been, if we had taken them on with Kevin Prince instead of Kevin Craft. No doubt they are going to be a tough opponent and perhaps one of the most physical ones during this coming season. However, I like our team chances heading into this contest.
Of course what happens against Kansas State is going to have an impact on the mindset of our team heading into the Stanford game. The game against the Wildcats is going to be tough. The Wildcats with one year under Snyder are going to be well versed under one of the toughest drill sergeants in college football. They are going to be playing in front of a fire up home crowd which will most likely be a sellout (under 4,000 tickets left), looking to set the tone for their season. The Bruins will need to come out and match that intensity. If somehow we come short, we will have to forget about it immediately to get ready for Stanford. Ideally though it'd be amazing if the Bruins can come out, lock in, and get out with a huge win in the prairies, to set them up for a showdown against Stanford.