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UCLA Pregame Guesses: @Kansas State

How about this for the first Pregame Guesses of the regular season?

Who will start at quarterback for the Bruins?

I don’t know either – it’s a "game time decision."

The element of the unknown hangs over the program right now like early morning fog over Santa Monica in June. But unlike the fog, it’s not clear that the unknown hanging over Westwood anytime soon.

In a way it’s fitting to start the season with a Guesses column because at the outset, the UCLA football team has so many questions to answer it’s really unclear what type of season we’re in for.

I was about to apologize for my inability to be more articulate about the state of things, but maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the fact that there is so much we don’t know about this team we don’t know, that an inarticulate ramble is actually an accurate depiction of the state of things. (It’s also possible that this is an inarticulate ramble because I’m playing a drinking game while writing it – every time Hawaii misses a receiver or tackle I do a shot and every time ESPN shows a close-up of Lane Kiffin I down a beer … let’s just say I’ve been above the legal limit since the four minute mark of the first quarter.)

(more after the jump)

In the scrimmage Guesses column, I alluded to a few of the knowns. If I recall correctly, they were Rahim Moore, Akeem Ayers and Kai Forbath. Well whaddya know? The list of knowns has dropped by 50% as – can you believe it – our All-American kicker is injured and we might have to go with punter Jeff Locke.

So, we’re down to two.

I fear that’s not enough and as a result, I’m having a hard time getting excited about the season. Oh, sure I’m looking forward to the ritual of going to and/or just watching the games, but I’m having trouble getting a sense of this team. Other than the fact the season is here, I’m just not sure what to latch on to.

Listening to a podcast today about the NFL, they were discussing the Seattle Seahawks. And one of the experts just asked "what are they good at? what’s in their wheelhouse?" And while they were describing the Seahawks as one of the worst teams in the league – and we’re not the worst team in the league – you could ask the same thing about UCLA?

Unlike the NFL’s Seahawks, we’re potentially good at quite a few things. We have a corps of potentially good receivers, we have a trio or maybe even four backs with potential and we’ve got a couple of qbs capable of coming through and having a good or even a very good season. The problem is that no one has emerged yet. Sometimes Nelson Rosario looks like J.J. Stokes, sometimes he seems to never get open. Taylor Embree is everywhere one week and invisible the next. Jonathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman have had their moments, but not put enough together to assemble a clear picture of what we’re actually going to get from them.

The same is true for quarterbacks Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince. Prince, the ostensible starter, has been hurt all camp. Brehaut, the ostensible back up has looked good in practice, but not good enough to definitely supplant Prince. And it’s not like Prince is a sure thing, even when healthy because even if Prince had taken every single snap this fall, he’d still be somewhat of an unknown going into the season.

Defensively … ahhhh … who am I kidding. There’s no reason to go through the same exercise for the defense where other than one safety and one linebacker we really don’t know what we’re going to get from anyone.

As for the game tomorrow, from where I sit Kansas State looks like a team with a good coach, a crowd capable of giving them a home field advantage and a roster that looks to still be rebuilding a bit. If we’re a good team, they’re beatable. If we’re not, we could start the year 0-1.

Early on, I noted my own sense of confusion about this column and this season and decided that this vagueness serves as a bit of a metaphor for the season. There could also be another reason, my own trepidation about facing the reality of the next four months.

The simple fact is, I see a team capable of winning eight games if everything breaks right, if the answers to all the questions break our way. But I also see a team capable of regressing to five wins and a program that won’t really turn the corner until 2011, when the injuries have healed, the grades have been brought up and the schedule breaks our way.

What’s really going to happen? Your guess is as good as mine …

With that, here are your Pregame Guesses for Kansas State:

  1. Who will be under center -- check that -- who will take the first snap for the Bruins at quarterback against Kansas State?
  2. How many touchdowns will UCLA score in the first half against Kansas State?
  3. The over/under for the game is 44.5. Do you like the over or the under?
  4. Bonus question: How many true freshman will play for UCLA in the opener?
As always ... put your guesses in the SUBJECT LINE of your reply. Comments in the body of the reply.