Yesterday, we took our first look at what our football team's depth chart might look like come fall, beginning with our defensive unit. Today, we turn to the other side of the ball: the side that everyone is eagerly anticipating, hoping to see some excitement in an offensive unit under Noel Mazzone that had fizzled out with Neuheisel and the failed pistol experiment. But, as I mentioned yesterday, this depth chart projection is very preliminary, given that our roster will need to be trimmed by the fall, between a combination of transfers, medical retirements, leaving the program, and possible grey-shirts.
So, while we take these projections with a grain of salt, since we really have no idea what will happen with the roster between now and September 1. As mentioned yesterday, we'll be making certain educated guesses (read: assumptions) about the offensive set will be working out of, but with Noel Mazzone installing his spread offense concept, I expect, given our lack of depth at WR and the presence of 6'8" match-up nightmare Joe Fauria at TE, we'll see a three WR set with a TE, no FB, and a single back (basically the spread with a TE instead of a fourth WR).
With that said, let's get to our way-too-early, kind-of-educated-guessing depth chart projections for the 2012 season, this time looking at the offensive side of the ball.
Following this spring's practices, here's how I project it shapes up for the Bruins on the defensive side of the ball:
|Xavier Su'a Filo
Don't expect to see a lot of freshmen here. In fact, the only one who I think will not redshirt will be Carl Hulick, because Capella will need to move to a guard position, Brendel will start at C, and Innes just won't be quality enough to crack the two-deep: I think Hulick ends up winning out the job for being the second-string C. The other freshman offensive linemen, Colby Cyburt, Simon Goines, and Lacy Westbrook will probably all redshirt. Goines could probably crack the two-deep, but with Ceachir coming in, the return of XSF, Torian White having a year of seasoning, and depth at guard (allowing us to move Baca to RT), I don't think Goines will be needed this year (barring injuries). I think it will be a solid three-way battle for a starting guard spot between Yandall, Cid, and Ward, with Capella locking down the other guard spot. If Ceachir is ready to play immediately, sticking him at RT would allow Baca to move back inside to a guard position. So, there are still a lot of factors in play here.
Receiving Corps (WR and TE)
|Jerry Rice, Jr.
With Mazzone coming in, we're going to see a lot of multiple receiver sets. We simply don't have the depth to go 4-wide consistently, unless we plan on using some of our incoming true freshmen. I think given our personnel, Mazzone will modify his schemes a bit, going with a more prominent role for the TE than we saw him employ at ASU, simply to get Fauria on the field. I expect Evans, Marvray, and Lucien to be the starting receivers, with Lucien in the slot. Why Lucien in the slot? He runs the best routes, has good hands, and can make catches in traffic. Jerry Johnson and Jerry Rice, Jr. will provide depth, while Damien Thigpen, disappointingly under/mis-used by Neuheisel, will come in as a slot receiver for Mazzone, and given his skill set, could really end up flourishing there. Of our freshmen receivers (or guys I expect to end up in the WR corps), only Payton will get playing time, but only because he's the most college-ready. The remaining incoming freshmen who will line up for Mazzone, as either true receivers, or slot guys in his spread offense (Randall Goforth, Ahmaad Harris, Fabian Moreau, Kenny Walker, and Javon Williams) will all end up redshirting. I've penciled in Anthony Barr at TE because, given his skills and talent, he's a great fit there (and we're thin at TE), but obviously that's up in the air, with Mora and Barr planning on moving him to OLB. Maybe he'll see both sides of the ball, because he's a really dynamic player who Neuheisel did not use nearly enough or to his full potential. Incoming freshman TE Ian Taubler will likely redshirt.
Offensive Backfield (QB and RB)
Let's start with the easier one, running back. Jet Ski will hold on to his starting spot, unless the fumble issue comes up again and gets worse. Malcolm Jones will get a lot of playing time though, coming in as the Derrick Coleman replacement: the thunder to Jet Ski's lightning. Jordon James is listed here and at WR because he's a change-of-pace guy who is just too dynamic to not be on the field. I expect Mazzone to get him on the field in a variety of ways. Manfro is simply a depth guy and I don't expect any of these incoming freshmen (Perkins, Walker, Moreau) to do anything but redshirt.
Now, let's talk about the QB position, because well (1) it's the one position that everyone and their mother want to discuss, (2) it's wide open this year with a new coaching regime in place and a new offensive system coming in, and (3) it's been the bane of our existence for way too long. To be perfectly honest, Brehaut or Prince could end up winning the starting job. Brehaut is a much better fit in Mazzone's system than he ever was in the pistol. He also has good arm strength and could thrive. Hundley, however, is so talented it will be hard not to play him a lot. He has all the physical tools and his mobility gives UCLA more offensive options. For now, I have Hundley at the top because Mora seems set at picking one guy and sticking with him and Hundley is clearly the future now: Brehaut and Prince are just veterans who haven't gotten it done. Devin Fuller is an explosive player so I expect him to break the rotation and maybe be used (probably in a variety of trick-type plays, to utilize his speed). Crissman and Neuheisel are nothing more than emergency back-ups and/or scout team players. T.J. Millweard, IMO, will be UCLA's QB of the future, but I expect him to redshirt his first year on campus and eventually take the reins of the offense in a few seasons.
Alright everybody, that's a very preliminary look at how our offense could, possibly, maybe shape up this next fall. So, as with our way-too-early defensive preview, feel free to pick it apart, put up your own thoughts on how our depth chart will play out, and/or otherwise engage in fun guesswork about how (hopefully) explosive our offense will be under Mazzone this fall.
Fire away in the thread.