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At a Glance

September 01, 2007|Chris Foster

* Coach: Karl Dorrell, fifth season, 29-21.

* Last season: 7-6 overall; 5-4 in Pacific 10 Conference, fourth place.

* Key losses: DE Justin Hickman, PK Justin Medlock.

* Returning starters: QBs Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan, TB Chris Markey, FB Michael Pitre, WRs Marcus Everett and Brandon Breazell, TE Logan Paulsen, OGs Noah Sutherland and Shannon Tevaga, C Chris Joseph, OT Aleksey Lanis, DE Bruce Davis, DTs Kevin Brown and Brigham Harwell, LBs Christian Taylor, Aaron Whittington and Reggie Carter, CBs Trey Brown and Rodney Van, FS Dennis Keyes, SS Chris Horton, P Aaron Perez.

* Top newcomers: OT Micah Kia, K Kai Forbath.

* Offense: Quarterback Olson won his starting job in spring practice. What hopes the Bruins have for offensive success hinge on his play. If he meanders, as he did before suffering a knee injury last season, a quarterback controversy could arise. Cowan, slayer of USC, waits in the wings. Running back is thin. Markey churned out 1,107 yards last season and Kahlil Bell returns, but experience and ability drop off quickly after those two. There is depth and experience at receiver but no standout, so a lot is expected of seniors Everett, Breazell and Joe Cowan. The offensive line has experience, but Joseph has moved from guard to center and Sutherland has moved from tackle to guard.

* Defense: The strength of the team with 10 starters back from a unit that was often outstanding last season -- save for a few minutes against Notre Dame, some rough moments against Washington State and Cal, and the Emerald Bowl debacle against Florida State. Davis, Brown and Harwell are formidable up front. The linebacker corps, led by Taylor, is solid. Brown leads a secondary that should be among the best in the Pac-10. Depth is better on this side of the ball, as the Bruins should suffer little drop-off when DE Tom Blake, LB John Hale and defensive backs Alterraun Verner, Bret Lockett and Aaron Ware are on the field.

* Intangibles: There will be no talk about the "gutty little Bruins" this season. Expectations have reached nosebleed heights. How the Bruins deal with the pressure will determine whether they munch on any of the carrots dangling before them. UCLA gets key conference games against California, Arizona State and Oregon at home.

* Key to the season: Olson must perform well week in and week out. If he does, the dominoes fall into place. If he doesn't, UCLA's possible bowl destinations diminish to the Las Vegas, San Francisco or El Paso variety.

-- Chris Foster

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