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At A Glance

August 24, 2003|Steve Henson

Coach: Karl Dorrell, first season.

Last season: 8-5, 4-4, tied for fourth in the Pacific 10 Conference.

Key losses: Quarterback Cory Paus, receiver Tab Perry, tight end Mike Seidman, tackles Mike Saffer and Bryce Bolander, punter-kicker Nate Fikse, kicker Chris Griffith. Defensive linemen Rusty Williams, Steve Morgan and Sean Phillips, linebacker Marcus Reese, cornerbacks Ricky Manning Jr. and Joe Hunter, and safety Jibril Raymo.

Returning starters: Quarterback Drew Olson, tailback Tyler Ebell, fullback Manuel White, receiver Craig Bragg, center Mike McCloskey, guards Eyoseph Efseaff and Steve Vieira, defensive linemen Dave Ball and Rodney Leisle, linebackers Brandon Chillar and Spencer Havner, cornerback Matt Ware and safeties Jarrad Page and Ben Emanuel.

Top newcomers: Tailbacks Maurice Drew and Derrick Williams, tight end J.J. Hair, center Robert Chai, tackle Alex Potasi, receivers Idris Moss, Antwuan Smith and Joe Cowan. Defensive linemen Thomas Patton, Kevin Harbour, Junior Lemau'u, Kevin Brown and Bruce Davis, linebackers Xavier Burgess and William Snead, cornerbacks Jebiaus Brown and Joe Garcia and safeties Eric McNeal and Dennis Keyes.

Offense: The West Coast offense replaces Bob Toledo's quick-strike attack, meaning that regardless of whether Olson or Matt Moore is at quarterback the Bruins plan to move the ball with short passes to a variety of receivers and lots of carries by Ebell. White is a powerful short-yardage option and Bragg is the home run threat. Drew might be only true freshman to make an impact.

Defense: This could be one of the top defenses in the Pac-10. The line is experienced with six seniors, linebackers Chillar and Havner are playmakers and middle linebacker Justin London is a rising star. The secondary will be strong as long as Matt Clark can step into the shoes of the departed Manning. Adapting to new coordinator Larry Kerr's gap-control alignment with an emphasis on zone coverage is the challenge.

Intangibles: Few disagree that the Bruins were in need of a change at the top and practices have been invigorated by the new leadership. Still unknown are Dorrell's game management skill and his ability to handle adversity as the season progresses.

Keys to the season: The quarterback battle could push Olson and Moore to great heights or cause a meltdown. Early success will depend on the Bruins' ability to learn and implement the West Coast offense and new defensive scheme. Success in the conference will depend on the team's ability to shed its history of late-season fades.

-- Steve Henson

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