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At A Glance

September 03, 2004|Lonnie White

Coach: Karl Dorrell, second season, 6-7.

Last season: 6-7 overall, 4-4 in Pacific 10, tied for fifth in conference.

Key losses: The Bruins have to replace their entire defensive line from last season -- Dave and Mat Ball, Ryan Boschetti and Rodney Leisle. Dave Ball, an All-Pac-10 selection, was drafted in the fifth round by the San Diego Chargers six picks ahead of Leisle, selected by the New Orleans Saints. Linebacker Brandon Chillar, UCLA's only other all-conference player, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round, and defensive back Matt Ware was picked in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive lineman Junior Lemau'u and wide receivers Ryan Smith and Idris Moss were not allowed back after violating team policies. Running back Tyler Ebell and quarterback Matt Moore transferred because of playing time issues.

Returning starters: Quarterback Drew Olson passed for 10 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards last season in starting nine of 13 games. Running back Maurice Drew started only once last season but led the Bruins in rushing with 620 yards and five touchdowns. Manuel White started eight games at fullback or running back. Fullback Pat Norton, who started three games late last season, will split time with Michael Pitre. Wide receiver Craig Bragg could become the first to lead UCLA in receiving four consecutive seasons. Senior Tab Perry, a starting receiver before he left school for academic reasons, hopes to be playing soon. Junior Marcedes Lewis is an all-conference candidate at tight end. Steven Vieira, Mike McCloskey, Paul Mociler and Ed Blanton, who combined for 41 starts last season, will anchor the offensive line. Spencer Havner and Justin London return as starting linebackers; London will miss the first game because of an ankle injury. Ben Emanuel II, Jarrad Page and Matt Clark return as starters in the secondary.

Top newcomers: Defensive lineman Justin Hickman, a junior college transfer, will start at end. Linebacker Danny Nelson, a transfer from Arizona Western College, will start in place of London in the middle. Freshmen linemen Shannon Tevaga, Chris Joseph and Brian Rubinstein will be counted as key backups on the offensive line. Quarterback David Koral, a junior college transfer, is No. 2 behind Drew Olson.

Offense: Olson has shown improvement in practice but still has to prove that he can win in the Pac-10. Drew and White will provide a strong one-two punch at running back. Wide receivers Bragg and Perry could be the best tandem in the conference, and Lewis has the ability to dominate at tight end. The offensive line may not be great but McCloskey, Mociler, Vieira and Blanton work hard. Versatile Robert Cleary and Robert Chai are expected to split time at weakside guard.

Defense: Sophomore Kevin Brown and junior C.J. Niusulu are listed as starters at tackle, but both have had knee problems. Behind them, the Bruins are a little thin and young. If Kyle Morgan and Brigham Harwell can play -- both had knee surgery early in camp -- UCLA's depth on the defensive front will improve. Havner, a junior, leads an athletic group of linebackers who hope to make up for their lack of size with speed. Cornerback Clark and safeties Emanuel and Page are experienced defensive backs. Junior Marcus Cassel earned the starting right cornerback position in camp.

Intangibles: The Bruins last season did not make great offensive adjustments, mainly because everyone was not on the same page. The Bruins hope that problem was solved with the hiring of offensive coordinator Tom Cable, who will handle play calling. Expect UCLA's defense to be more aggressive with blitzes to help compensate for an inexperienced line.

Key to the season: Olson. If he can avoid injury and mistakes, the Bruins can expect to have an explosive offense capable of scoring. Olson is bigger and stronger than he was a year ago, and his increased confidence in the Bruin offense is a positive.

-- Lonnie White

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