WESTWOOD —The wait is finally over. All those college football fans that have been dying to see some football on television ever since the National Championship game are now another step closer to their wish. Last Thursday the Bruins officially began the drive toward the 2010 season and now more than ever the expectations for this team are sky high.
Last season the Bruins finished with a 7-6 record and their first bowl win in three years, taking their first significant strides of the Neuheisel era. Things will be a lot different during Neuheisel’s third go around as commander”“in-chief of the Bruin faithful. In his first two years the defense was the strength of the UCLA football team. Even after defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker left to be the head coach at New Mexico State, the defense remained intact under his successor Chuck Bullough. Unfortunately with the departure of All-Americans Brian Price and Alterraun Verner, and fellow defensive starters Reggie Carter, Kyle Bosworth and Korey Bosworth, the defense will no longer be the strength of the team. This spring will see the Bruin offense, lead by redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince, take over the role as the focal point of the UCLA football team.
The Bruin offense showed some improvement last year with Kevin Prince at the helm, but the results were nowhere near what UCLA needed to once again become one of the top teams in the Pac-10 and the nation. Prince showed definite flashes of greatness in the Tennessee game at the beginning of last season when he handled the hostile environment of volunteers like a season veteran and in the second half of the Arizona game, almost bringing back the Bruins from a deficit of more than 10 points in the final quarter of the game. To be one of the top teams in the Pac-10, the Bruins will need Prince to perform like he did in those games on a consistent basis. If he lives up to the potential everyone knows he has, there is no telling how far this UCLA team can go.
If you have seen the Bruins’ upcoming schedule for this season, then you know they have little room for error if they want to truly be the team everyone expects them to be. Their first four games are against Kansas State, Stanford, Houston, and Texas, one of the teams that played in this meaningless game called the National Championship last season. To say that the Bruins have their work cut out for them may be putting it a little lightly, but there is no question about the road they are going to face in the fall. The key to getting ready for their challenging schedule so far has been making tremendous advances in the weight room and drills on the field. Overall as a team the Bruins are already a lot stronger, quicker and faster than they were last year. The only thing left to do is compete during spring ball. For any program to get better, the players must be motivated. If there is nothing pushing the players to get better then they will stay complacent. One of the focal points of the team this spring has been competition. The message Coach Neuheisel hopes to push across this spring is the need for every player to make the person next to them or across from them work harder to get better. This is what he believes is needed for the Bruins to get where they need to be and with talent Neuheisel continues to bring in, it’s a matter of time before everything begins to fall into place for UCLA football once again.