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FOOTBALL | UCLA PREVIEW

At a Glance

September 01, 2006|Lonnie White

* Coach: Karl Dorrell, fourth season, 22-15.

* Last season: 10-2 overall, 6-2 in Pacific 10 Conference, third place.

* Key losses: QB Drew Olson, TE Marcedes Lewis, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, SS Jarrad Page, LB Spencer Havner, LB Justin London.

* Returning starters: OG Shannon Tevaga, FB Michael Pitre, OT Noah Sutherland, OT Brian Abraham, C Robert Chai, DE Justin Hickman, DT Chase Moline, LB John Hale, CB Trey Brown, FS Dennis Keyes, DT Brigham Harwell, K Justin Medlock, P Aaron Perez.

* Top newcomers: OT Aleksey Lanis, WR Terrence Austin, RB Chane Moline, CB Alterraun Verner, CB Jermey McGee.

* Offense: Running backs Chris Markey and Kahlil Bell will need to be productive to help take pressure off quarterback Ben Olson, a first-year starter. If senior Joe Cowan does not return from a knee injury at receiver, senior Junior Taylor will be counted on even more and he's still not fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last season. Juniors Brandon Breazell and Marcus Everett are also experienced receivers. Tevaga anchors a strong and athletic line.

* Defense: Harwell and Kevin Brown will lead a line that needs to be active and disruptive in order to make first-year coordinator DeWayne Walker's unit work. Ends Hickman and Bruce Davis are solid pass rushers who have improved against the run. Chase Moline, Kenneth Lombard and Nikola Dragovica provide line depth, each having started multiple games last season. Linebackers Christian Taylor, Aaron Whittington, John Hale, Eric McNeal and Reggie Carter will need to stay active and be consistent. The secondary -- corners Trey Brown and Rodney Van and safeties Keyes and Chris Horton -- should be a strength.

* Intangibles: Dorrell is in his fourth season, and UCLA's roster is finally made up of players he recruited. The closeness of the team should be a strength. The Bruins gained a great deal of confidence from their multiple comeback victories last season.

* Key to the season: If UCLA hopes to contend in the Pac-10, the dropped passes, turnovers and mental mistakes the Bruins made during stretches of training camp must disappear -- especially in the middle of the season when the Bruins play three road games in four weeks, including stops at Oregon and California.

-- Lonnie White

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