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2007 UCLA Preview

Discussion in 'All Other Sports' started by BoltsFanUK, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. BoltsFanUK

    BoltsFanUK Well-Known Member

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    UCLA had a great 2005, a wildly inconsistent 2006, and now should be in for a whale of a 2007 if everything comes together as expected. From the loaded defense, to a strong offense, led by Shannon Tevaga and a good line, the Bruins are the real deal.

    Every so often, things line up perfectly for good programs giving them a rare opportunity to have a great season when everything comes together at once. UCLA is staring at just such a convergence for the upcoming season.

    Head coach: Karl Dorrell
    5th year: 29-21
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 24, Def. 24, ST 1
    Lettermen Lost: 12
    Ten Best UCLA Players
    1. DE Bruce Davis, Sr.
    2. G Shannon Tevaga, Sr.
    3. SS Chris Horton, Sr.
    4. CB Trey Brown, Sr.
    5. RB Chris Markey, Sr.
    6. LB Christian Taylor, Sr.
    7. QB Ben Olson, Jr.
    8. DT Brighan Harwell, Sr.
    9. DT Kevin Brown, Sr.
    10. LB Reggie Carter, Soph.
    2007 Schedule
    CFN Prediction: 10-2

    Sept. 1
    at Stanford

    Sept.8
    BYU

    Sept. 15
    at Utah

    Sept. 22
    Washington

    Sept. 29
    at Oregon State

    Oct. 6
    Notre Dame

    Oct. 20
    California

    Oct. 27
    at Washington St

    Nov. 3
    at Arizona

    Nov. 10
    Arizona State

    Nov. 24
    Oregon

    Dec. 1
    at USC


    2006 Schedule
    CFN Prediction: 5-7
    2006 Record: 7-6
    Preview 2006 predicted wins

    9/2 Utah W 31-10
    9/9 Rice W 26-16
    9/23 at Washington L 29-19
    9/30 Stanford W 31-0
    10/7 Arizona W 27-7
    10/14 at Oregon L 30-20
    10/21 at Notre Dame L 20-17
    10/28 Washington St L 37-15
    11/4 at California L 38-24
    11/11 Oregon State W 25-7
    11/18 at Arizona St W 24-12
    12/2 USC W 13-9
    12/27 Emerald Bowl
    Florida State L 44-27

    Although the Bruins have lived in the long shadow of cross-town rival USC ever since Pete Carroll arrived in 2001, they’ve fostered a little momentum, courtesy of last year’s landscape-altering upset of the Trojans and the return of all but two starters from that team. There were highs and lows in 2006, but last year was more about setting the table for 2007 and a possible run at a BCS bowl game than anything else. Of course, that raises the stakes for Karl Dorrell, who’ll either quiet his critics or energize them if the Bruins disappoint and wallow in the middle of the Pac-10 pack.

    While the well-stocked UCLA defense will be the anchor, the offense must locate some more firepower if this is going to be more than a schizophrenic team that can beat USC, yet still lose to Washington and Washington State in the same year. Part of the problem in Westwood has been a lack of continuity in the coaching staff under Dorrell, who is now on his fourth coordinator in five years. Jay Norvell was pried away from Nebraska in the off-season to dispense his knowledge of the West Coast offense and call plays for the first time in his career. His first big call, however, will involve the tight battle at quarterback between Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson, which could rage on through the summer.

    In the land of stars, they might be lining up for UCLA to make a run at a ten-win season and a possible home game in January. The schedule and the depth chart point to a big year, but now the Bruins have to prove they’ve got the mental toughness to deal with elevated expectations for a change.

    What to watch for on offense: There’s just too much talent on UCLA for it to finish seventh in the league again in total and scoring offense. Former coordinator Jim Svoboda was knocked for being too conservative with his play calling, something Norvell hopes to address, while maintaining the Bruins’ signature offensive balance. The Shannon Tevaga-led line returns four starters that’ll open holes for versatile Chris Markey to burst through. Whichever quarterback gets the ball will benefit from the competition and the return of Joe Cowan, a big, sure-handed flanker that missed 2006 with a knee injury.

    What to watch for on defense: In his debut as a defensive coordinator, DeWayne Walker whipped the Bruins into a very quick and very tough unit that attacked the line of scrimmage and created turnovers. He also proved to be a solid Xs and Os guy, who’ll only get better with experience. Lighting quick end Bruce Davis headlines the defense, but he’ll get plenty of help. The back seven is deep and talented, highlighted by the safety duo of Chris Horton and Dennis Keyes and cornerback Alterraun Verner, the budding star of the secondary.

    The team will be far better if …it improves its efficiency in the red zone. Only Penn State settled for more field goals than UCLA in 2006, which won’t cut it against the upper half of the Pac-10. Plus, in place of rock steady kicker Justin Medlock steps freshman Kai Forbath, so even three points is no longer a lock.

    The Schedule: It’s not easy. There’s not a breather in the non-conference schedule playing BYU, Utah (who’ll each join TCU as the Mountain West superstars) to go along with Notre Dame. On the plus side, there are five Pac 10 home games including Oregon and Cal, but the Bruins have to go on the road to face Oregon State and USC. The only back-to-back road trips are to Washington State and Arizona, who didn’t go bowling last year.

    Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Chris Markey. Markey has seen his role increase each fall at UCLA, capped by last year’s 1,000-yard, 35-catch season, his first out of Maurice Jones-Drew’s shadow and as a full-time starter. A patient runner with good vision, he’ll wait behind Bruin linemen before hitting the hole and popping a six or seven yard gain.

    Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Bruce Davis. It took a couple of years of tinkering, but Davis, a virtually unblockable blur coming off the edge, has finally found a home at defensive end. The NFL can worry about him being a tweener when he gets there, but for now, the 6-3, 240-pound senior is one of the quickest and most disruptive pass rushers in the country.

    Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman PK Kai Forbath and/or junior Jimmy Rotstein. All Justin Medlock did was hit 28 of 32 field goals as a weapon that always came through when the offense bogged down. Forbath was a star recruit with a strong leg able to hit from well beyond 50 yards. Just connecting in the clutch would be good enough for the Bruins.

    http://cfn.scout.com/2/661175.html
     
  2. BoltsFanUK

    BoltsFanUK Well-Known Member

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    What you need to know: Kudos to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who did the improbable in 2006 by whipping a sorry Bruin defense into shape. Ten starters are back from that unit, which finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in total defense and tops against the run. One All-American rush end, Justin Hickman, has departed, but one, Bruce Davis, returns to wreak havoc on league quarterbacks. Although the linebackers look nothing like the ones across town at USC, they’re fast, instinctive and a nice fit for Walker’s defense. Middle linebacker Christian Taylor is the definition of a hard-working college athlete that makes a ton of plays, but likely won’t be wearing pads beyond 2007. The secondary is an enigma that’s loaded with returning talent, yet still vulnerable through the air. Strong safety Chris Horton laid the groundwork last year for what should be a terrific final season at UCLA.

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Chris Horton, 95
    Sacks: Bruce Davis, 12.5
    Interceptions: Trey Brown, 4

    Star of the defense: Senior DE Bruce Davis
    Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior DE Nikola Dragovic
    Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Reggie Carter
    Best pro prospect: Davis
    Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis 2) S Chris Horton 3) CB Trey Brown
    Strength of the defense: Pass rush, stopping the run, experience
    Weakness of the defense: Pass defense

    Defensive Line

    Projected Starters: Even without the production of All-America end Justin Hickman, the Bruin line will be just fine thanks to the return of four seniors that’ll comprise the starting lineup. Leading the way is the defense’s other All-American, senior end Bruce Davis, who speed rushed his way to 17.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in 2006. Just 6-3 and 237 pounds, he’s a blur coming off the edge with the explosive first step and equally incendiary demeanor that’s often too much for opposing tackles to handle.

    Replacing Hickman will be Nikola Dragovic, a senior that made a successful return from knee surgery to letter last season. A workaholic that’s better rushing the passer than stopping the run, he had actually beaten out Hickman in 2005 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

    On the inside will be the tackle tandem of seniors Kevin Brown and Brigham Harwell. Brown hasn’t quite had that one knockout year that’s commensurate with his combination of quickness and raw power. That could happen, however, in 2007. He returned to mixed reviews last year after missing all of 2005 with an ankle injury, but it was no coincidence that the Bruins went from one of the nation’s worst run defenses when he was shelved to one of the best in 2006.

    Entering his third season as a starter, Harwell will be looking to build on last year’s 31 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 282 pounds, he’s vulnerable against big, physical lines, but possesses the quickness to shoot the gap and makes plays for minus yards.

    Projected Top Reserves: On his way back from knee surgery, junior Kenneth Lombard leads a deep and experienced group of second team linemen into the upcoming season. A versatile defender that can line up at either end or tackle, he earned his second letter last season, making 15 tackles and three for loss.

    Inside, the Bruins most experienced backup is junior Chase Moline, who has played in 22 games during his first two seasons. Undersized at 6-2 and 280 pounds, he continues to get stronger and plays with an intensity that’s infectious to his linemates.

    At 6-3 and 294 pounds, sophomore Jess Ward is the biggest member of the B team and a contender for increased playing time after appearing in seven games as a freshman.

    Watch Out For… incoming freshman Brian Price. Can a rookie penetrate a rotation that’s steeped in veterans? When they have as much upside as Price, you bet. He’s an immense talent with the quickness off the snap to earn reps as soon as he learns the system and polishes up his technique.
    Strength: The interior. Yes, there was plenty of help from the back seven, but UCLA was No. 9 nationally in run defense last season largely due to the play of tackles Brown and Harwell. While they don’t form the thickest tandem around, they do a nice job of absorbing blocks, so others can make plays.
    Weakness: The opening at end. The wonderful thing about last year’s defense was that you couldn’t double either Hickman or Davis without severely paying for it. Unless Dragovic unexpectedly morphs into a beast, that luxury won’t exist for the Bruins this fall.
    Outlook: Just how much will Hickman and his 19 tackles for loss be missed this year? If the Bruins can find a way to keep the heat off Davis in 2007, they’ll again boast one of the toughest defensive lines in the Pac-10.
    Rating: 8.5

    Linebackers

    Projected Starters: After enduring a series of growing pains in 2006, the UCLA linebackers return virtually intact with six lettermen and five players with starting experience back for another year. The small, feisty unit is led by senior middle linebacker Christian Taylor, whose debut as a regular included 83 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and 4.5 sacks. While not an elite athlete at 6-0 and 222 pounds, the scrappy former Air Force walk-on plays with a passion and intensity that belie his pedestrian stature.

    On the weakside is sophomore Reggie Carter, a 6-1, 218-pounder that authored a building block Freshman All-American campaign in 2006. Flashing the great range and tenacity that made him a top recruit in 2005, he had 48 tackles and six tackles for loss. The good news for the defense is that Carter played well last year despite not knowing where he belonged on many plays.

    Holding down the fort on the strongside will be senior Aaron Whittington, who started ten games last season, missing three with an ankle injury. Consistent with the rest of the Bruin starters, he’s only 6-2 and 215 pounds, sacrificing some brute strength for quickness and agility.

    Projected Top Reserves: When Whittington was sidelined last fall, junior John Hale stepped into the lineup, and played rather well. The biggest and strongest of the linebackers at 6-4 and 226 pounds, he’ll challenge for the job at strongside, while providing depth in the middle for Taylor.

    Now in his third season with the program, the Bruin staff is hoping that the light starts to go on for sophomore Shawn Oatis, who chose UCLA over Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others, in 2005. A weakside linebacker with the size and athleticism of a safety, the hope is that he’ll eventually evolve into Eric McNeal, a hybrid that can defend the pass or blitz the quarterback with equal success.

    Watch Out For… Taylor to be the most valuable member of the defense not to get any post-season recognition. While NFL scouts won’t have much interest watching the senior play this fall, he’ll continue making plays from sideline-to-sideline and inspiring the rest of the unit with his feisty demeanor.
    Strength: Range. Small and quick, the UCLA linebackers have a tremendous amount of range to along with above average skills in pass coverage. Locate the ball, and it’s a safe bet that one of these three is nearby.
    Weakness: Size. Although the system is designed to feature undersized, athletic defenders, it does make the smallish linebackers vulnerable to offensive lines that can get to the second level, engage, and overwhelm them.
    Outlook: While Carter has a chance to break the mold, the Bruin linebackers are a workmanlike, lunch pail crew that’s going to make plenty of stops in 2007. If the team plays up to expectations, Taylor could have a cult following by November.
    Rating: 8


    http://cfn.scout.com/2/661177.html
     
  3. BoltsFanUK

    BoltsFanUK Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    2007 UCLA Preview - Depth Chart

    OFFENSE Returning Starters: 9

    QB 7 Ben Olson 6-5, 227, Jr.
    12 Pat Cowan 6-5, 218, Jr.

    TB 28 Chris Markey 5-11, 204, Sr. OR
    36 Kahlil Bell 6-0, 205, Jr.

    FB 31 Trevor Theriot 6-0, 226, So. OR
    32 Michael Pitre 6-0, 244, Sr.

    FL 1 Brandon Breazell 6-0, 156, Sr. OR
    26 Joe Cowan 6-4, 220, Sr.

    SE 9 Marcus Everett 6-1, 196, Sr.
    10 Gavin Ketchum 6-4, 201, Jr.

    TE 86 Logan Paulsen 6-5, 247, Jr.
    48 William Snead 6-5, 255, Sr.

    LT 73 Micah Kia 6-5, 304, So.
    78 Aleksey Lanis 6-6, 316, So.

    LG 71 Shannon Tevaga 6-3, 316, Sr.
    67 P.J. Irvin 6-5, 305, Sr. OR
    51 Nathaniel Skaggs 6-4, 296, Jr.

    C 60 Chris Joseph 6-5, 282, Sr.
    58 Micah Reed 6-4, 306, Jr.

    RG 74 Noah Sutherland 6-5, 299, Sr.
    75 Nick Ekbatani 6-4, 285., Jr.

    RT 68 Brian Abraham 6-6, 307, Sr.
    72 Sean Sheller 6-4, 282, RFr.

    DEFENSE Returning Starters: 10

    LE 96 Nikola Dragovic 6-3, 256, Sr.
    56 Tom Blake 6-4, 275, Jr.

    DT 93 Brigham Harwell 6-2, 286, Sr.
    52 Jess Ward 6-3, 294, So.

    DT 75 Kevin Brown 6-2, 293, Sr.
    50 Chase Moline 6-2, 280, Jr.

    RE 44 Bruce Davis 6-3, 237, Sr.
    77 Kenneth Lombard 6-1, 261, Jr.

    SLB 42 Aaron Whittington 6-2, 215, Sr.
    54 Kyle Bosworth 6-1, 225, Jr.

    MLB 33 Christian Taylor 6-0, 222, Sr.
    12 John Hale 6-4, 226, Jr.

    WLB 51 Reggie Carter 6-1, 218, So.
    8 Shawn Oatis 6-0, 220, So.

    LCB 23 Trey Brown 5-9, 185, Sr.
    22 Michael Norris 5-10, 176, Jr.

    SS 14 Chris Horton 6-1, 210, Sr.
    25 Bret Lockett 6-2, 206, Jr.

    FS 11 Dennis Keyes 6-2, 194, Sr.
    27 Aaron Ware 6-0, 192, So.

    RCB 3 Rodney Van 5-11, 170, Sr.
    1 Alterraun Verner 5-10, 170, So.

    SPECIALISTS
    PK 15 Kai Forbath 6-0, 193, RFr.
    P 17 Aaron Perez 6-4, 219, Jr.
    PR 4 Terrence Austin 5-11, 162, So.
    KR 24 Ryen Carew 5-9, 170, So

    http://cfn.scout.com/2/661178.html
     

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