The eighth of 12 quick updates on offseason Pac-12 goings on.
UCLA in a sentence
Coach Rick Neuheisel is on the hot seat after a second 4-8 season in three years and a 8-19 mark in conference play, but while expectations are low among the pundits, there is enough talent on this team to reach a bowl game and even contend in the Pac-12 South Division if quarterback play is at least adequate.
The big issue
With intriguing talent on defense and talent and depth at running back, it all comes down to the passing game. If the Bruins can effectively throw the football -- and protect their quarterback -- the program will take a major step forward.
Quick hit news
Neuheisel cleaned house on his coaching staff, dispatching both coordinators -- Norm Chow on offense and Chuck Bullough on defense -- as well as defensive line coach Todd Howard, receivers coach Reggie Moore and special teams coach Frank Gansz. He hired Mike Johnson to run the offense (and coach receivers) and Joe Tresey to coach the defense. Neuheisel will oversee the quarterbacks. Inoke Breckterfield takes over the defensive line, while Jim Mastro -- hired away from Nevada for his knowledge of the pistol offense -- will coach tight ends/F-backs. Angus McClure takes over special teams.
The Bruins picked up a couple of transfers who could help immediately. Junior college transfer offensive lineman Albert Cid could work his way into a starting role, while cornerback Jamie Graham, a former starter at Vanderbilt, should bolster the secondary.
The biggest competition of preseason camp is at quarterback, where incumbent starter Kevin Prince is battling Richard Brehaut. Prince is the leader to start, but after sitting out spring practices due to a knee injury, he'll have to win over Johnson and Neuheisel again. True freshman Brett Hundley was in the mix until he tore his meniscus, which will sideline him for the opening weeks of preseason camp.
OG Stanley Hasiak left the program after being ruled academically ineligible.
Jeff Baca, who could play either guard or tackle, is out until late September with a broken foot. Cornerback cornerback Anthony Jefferson is going to be out at least six weeks after back surgery.
Tight end Morrell Presley, cornerback Courtney Viney and defensive end Derrick Bryant each decided to transfer. Presley and Viney are experienced players who were expected to contribute this fall.