2010 Record: (4-8, 2-7 in Pac-10)
Head Coach: Rick Neuheisel (15-22 at UCLA, 81-52 Overall)
Last Bowl Game: 2009 EagleBank Bowl (beat Temple 30-21)
CFBZ UCLA Links
9/3: at Houston (2009 result: won 34-17)
9/10: San Jose State (2010 result: lost 36-10)
9/17: Texas (2010 result: lost 42-17)
9/24: at Oregon State (2010 result: lost 48-29)
10/1: at Stanford (2010 result: lost 24-21)
10/8: Washington State (2010 result: lost 29-27)
10/20: at Arizona (2010 result: won 29-21)
10/29: Cal (2010 result: won 44-14)
11/5: Arizona State
11/12: at Utah
11/19: Colorado (2010 result: lost 30-29 2OT)
11/26: at USC
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 20.2 ppg (9th in Pac-10, 104th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 175.58 yds/game (4th in Pac-10, 32nd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 141.1 yds/game (last in Pac-10, 116th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 316.7 yds/game (last in Pac-10, 100th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.3 ppg (9th in Pac-10, 85th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 205.5 yds/game (9th in Pac-10, 109th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 214.6 yds/game (5th in Pac-10, 53rd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 420.1 yds/game (9th in Pac-10, 94th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.92 per game (last in Pac-10, 113th in Nation)
Penalties: 60.4 yds/game (7th in Pac-10, 97th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Richard Brehaut, Jr (119 of 212 for 1296 yds, 6 TD, 7 INT)
Rushing: RB Johnathan Franklin, Jr (214 for 1127 yds, 5.2 ypc, 8 TD)
Receiving: WR Taylor Embree, Sr (32 rec for 409 yds)
Tackles: SS Tony Dye, Sr (96)
Sacks: LB Sean Westgate, Sr (4)
Interceptions: CB Aaron Hester, Jr (3)
Athlon Sports: None
Phil Steele: Sun Bowl (vs Miami, Fl)
In four years at Colorado, Rick Neuheisel twice won 10 games. In his four years at Washington, Neuheisel led the Huskies to four consecutive winning seasons and four straight bowl berths. At UCLA he has not been as successful. Neuheisel has posted two 4-8 seasons and one winning season in 2009 when the Bruins went 7-6. The 2010 season could not have started off worse for the Bruins as they dropped a game on the road to Kansas State by nine points and then got blown out 35-0 at the hands of Jim Harbaugh and the Stanford Cardinal. The next three games would highlight UCLA's only winning streak of the season as they handled the Houston Cougars 31-13 and then shocked a Texas team that was 3-0, undefeated and ranked in the Top 10. The Bruins would go on to beat the Cougars of Washington State to move to 3-2 but from there it was all downhill as UCLA finished 1-6 with only two conference victories for the season. If you break down the stats there really aren't many positives for UCLA outside of RB Johnathan Franklin. Digging a bit deeper we find that the Bruins lost the third most starts in the Nation last year to injury. If they can stay healthy and fix the turnovers that plagued them last year that might be enough by itself to turn these Bruins into a winning team. It's also worth noting that Phil Steele lists UCLA as the most experienced team in the Pac-12 (by a pretty decent amount over Colorado). Neuheisel is firmly planted on the "hot seat" this year and we turned to the UCLA Blog The Trojan-Haters Club to get their take on the 2011 UCLA Bruins.
UCLA had a rough time offensively last year as they finished 9th in the conference in points scored. What has been done this off-season to address this opportunity?
Easy question to answer. They fired Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow. Whether it was a decimated Offensive line, QB injuries, and a lack of talent at the skill positions, OR bad schemes, Chow’s Offense was a disaster throughout his tenure in Westwood. His Offensive squads were SO bad that he was actually accused of being a Trojan plant. Nothing that his units showed at UCLA was even remotely reminiscent of his glory days at USC.
Chow has been replaced by former San Francisco 49er O.C. Mike Johnson, who is unproven, but has nowhere to go but up for the Bruins. Johnson will have the luxury of older, more mature players, an undoubtedly healthier and deeper Offensive Line, and three potential options at QB.
Last year, UCLA gave up an average of 205 ypg on the ground. Who needs to step up this year in order to help UCLA plug up its opponents on the ground?
Last season’s struggles were due to injuries -- especially a major one suffered by Defensive End Datone Jones – and subpar performances from stars Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore. Also, the Bruins had to rely on some Freshmen. Two of those Freshmen -- LB Jordan Zumwalt and DT Cassius Marsh -- did well, but they were still Freshmen. This year, Zumwalt and Marsh will be impact players. So will the returning Jones, as well as Patrick Larimore, a Linebacker who is also returning from injury. Weakside Linebacker Sean Westgate, although undersized, has a nose for the ball and will be one of the team’s leading tacklers. And the actual leading tackler will probably be Strong Safety Tony Dye, who was much improved last season, and will be the most reliable player in terms of stopping runs from becoming really big plays. And there is one other important factor: This year the Bruins welcome a brand new Defensive Coordinator, Joe Tresey, whose previous squads have put up impressive, Nationally-ranked statistics. A more risk-taking, attacking scheme should translate into better performance against the Run (as well as against the pass).
Who are some newcomers or under the radar players that you think will contribute this year?
Running Back Jordon James, a Redshirt Freshman, has already been bumped up the depth chart to sharing 2nd String, after an impressive Spring Practice Session. His shifty moves allowed him to consistently get past the Defensive Line and find daylight. Another player listed at 2nd String but poised for a breakout year is Joseph Fauria at Tight End. Fauria has the physique, hands, work ethic, and leadership abilities to be a game-changer this year, especially if his High School QB Kevin Prince earns the starting spot behind Center.
On Defense, Free Safety Dietrich Riley will ring some bells this year. Riley is a hard-hitting Sophomore that seems to have a good feel for the game. His back-up, Dalton Hilliard, is coming off an injury but should see plenty of action, and could create some Turnovers. Another 2nd-stringer, Defensive End Owamagbe Odighizuwa, has great range and is able to chase down ballcarriers, so his name will be called often… but the announcers will just call him “Owa.” Finally, Linebacker Eric Kendricks had a productive Spring, and has earned substantial playing time, maybe even a shot at a starting role.
The QB position seems like it is a huge question mark this year for the Bruins. Who are the contenders to win this job and who would you like to see under center in game one?
There are three possibilities for Quarterback this season. Kevin Prince is coming off knee surgery, but if he is healthy enough to play at 100%, he will have a good shot at starting. Prince’s detractors say he is simply too injury-prone to last a full season as a starter, and so far, history backs them up. He has been sidelined a few times already in his first two years, sometimes a victim of his own courageous confidence. He has yet to show the maturity to protect himself when necessary. Detractors will also state that his arm is not strong enough or accurate enough to warrant a starting gig. But with more experience now under his belt and a more solid O-Line in front of him, he should be more relaxed in the pocket, and able to justify the confidence that Chow and Rick Neuheisel have had in him for the last two years. The two things about Prince that no one doubts are his mental toughness and his ability to RUN the ball. UCLA will still retain aspects of its Pistol Formation Offense, which looked at its best last year when Prince proved to be a legitimate threat to run the ball upfield.
Prince’s main competition will be fellow Junior Richard Brehaut. Brehaut was behind Prince on the Depth Chart last year due to being less able to run the ball, and also due to a weaker grasp of the Playbook. His decision-making was routinely questioned by his Coaches, but seemed to get better as he got more and more reps. He provided a couple of big-yardage passing games, and showed that he wasn’t incapable of throwing deep and connecting. Many people think that Brehaut has a superior arm to Prince and that once he masters the Offense, he should be the starter. However, the Arm Race might be too close to call, so the Leg Difference and the Mental advantage should keep Prince in the lead… barring another injury.
The third option at QB is highly-regarded incoming Freshman Brett Hundley. If the Bruins want to be a predominantly Pistol Formation Offense, Hundley may end up being their best bet. He looked like Michael Vick in Spring, easily avoiding the rush and consistently sprinting for big gains. However, his knowledge of the system isn’t close to what Neuheisel requires, and his arm was not as effective, so it looks like Hundley will have to be patient before getting his opportunity. Nonetheless, he is the FUTURE for the Bruins, and that future looks bright.
Rick Neuheisel has one of the hottest seats in America among college coaches. What does he need to do this year to get off the "Hot Seat" list?
Several things. First of all, he needs to avoid any embarrassments, on or off the field. Any type of NCAA violations, or more players getting caught smoking pot, and he is probably doomed, barring a BCS Bowl appearance (which is ridiculously unlikely). And even if he wins more than he loses, if those losses are blowouts, especially to USC, he probably will be gone. With both his Coordinators replaced, he will have no one to blame, and the Injury Card has been played too often (even if valid), so he will have to win at least 8 games this year to keep the wolves at bay. Of course, a win over Southern Cal, or a Bowl win against a name school could grant him another year, even if he wins only 7 total.
Unfortunately, a tough schedule, along with new Coaching chemistry and installing new systems on both sides of the ball will probably NOT allow this to happen. It is possible that this new set of excuses will allow him to keep his job, but the natives are very restless, so I doubt that they will.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Final record: 5-7; 5-1 at Home, but 0-6 on the Road, with no Bowl. The Bruins have not been exactly what you would call Road Warriors during Neuheisel’s tenure. This more experienced group could change that, but I’ll believe it when I see it. To be qualified as a “success,” they would have to win 7 regular season games, INCLUDING a win at USC. If they lose to the RIVAL Trojans, they would have to win 10 other games including a Bowl, in order for me to reluctantly call it a good year.
Coming in August: Pac-12 Preview
Next Preview: Cincinatti
2011 Team Previews