2009 UCLA Bruins Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 3-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Rick Neuheisel (4-8 at UCLA, 70-38 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Norm Chow
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Bullough
Other Key Returnees: WR Terrence Austin, K Kai Forbath, TE Ryan Moya, DT Brian Price, LB Steve Sloan, DE Reginald Stokes, CB Alterraun Verner
Key Losses: RB Kahlil Bell, LB John Hale, DT Brigham Harwell, S Bret Lockett, CB Michael Norris, P Aaron Perez, C Micah Reed
Coach Rick Neuheisel is slowly trying to turn UCLA back into a winning program. The Bruins only won four games in his first year and none of those victories turned out to be very impressive since they were against Tennessee, Washington State, Stanford and Washington. The rest of the games were pretty much not even close. Those blowouts should come to an end this year as UCLA returns nine starters on offense and seven on defense.
It is the defense that has the most potential. The front line was nothing special a year ago, but tackle Brian Price earned all-conference first team honors. On the ends Korey Bosworth and Reginald Stokes can be very disruptive, but the team as a whole only tallied 1.75 sacks per game last year. That number has to go up or the entire defense will continue to struggle. In the middle of the defense outside linebacker Reggie Carter is the star. After leading the team with 83 tackles as a junior, Carter is prepared to emerge as the senior leader. In the secondary it is corner Alterraun Verner who is prepared to take the next step. Along with free safety Rahim Moore, the secondary should be in good shape.
The offense was just awful at times last year. The good news is nine starters return, but that might be the bad news too. The real problem is the offensive line. The group turned running back Kahlil Bell’s senior season into a dud and allowed nearly three sacks per game. Even the best skill players in the conference would have trouble succeeding with an offensive line like that. And UCLA lacks a superb playmaker. At quarterback Kevin Craft threw 20 interceptions and just seven touchdowns. Receivers Terrence Austin and Taylor Embree have rarely gotten the opportunity to do much of anything and replacing Bell will not make things any easier. Sophomore Derrick Coleman had a decent freshman campaign, but if Bell could not get the ground game moving, it is unlikely Coleman will have any more luck.
The Bottom Line for the Bruins:
The defense has the potential to be very special and that could be enough to put UCLA into a bowl game. The schedule is not too difficult and winning six games should be a reasonable goal. However, if the offense is as bad as it was last season, squeezing out a road win or two will be extremely difficult. The Bruins have to find consistent play from their quarterback or at least a running back who can make some plays or the offense will not go anywhere and the defense will be put in a bad position.
By Joel Welser
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