Monday, August 9, 2010
Opening camp: UCLA
By ESPN.com staff
UCLA opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.
Who's back: Seven starters on offense, five on defense and both specialists.
Big names: K Kai Forbath, FS Rahim Moore, LB Akeem Ayers, P Jeff Locke
What's new: Clark Lea was promoted from graduate assistant to LBs coach in February. Coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow adopted a "pistol" offense -- Nevada coach Chris Ault created it -- during spring practices. It features an option out of an abbreviated shotgun formation. Two transfers are eligible to play and likely will play a lot: receiver Josh Smith (Colorado) and tight end Joseph Fauria (Notre Dame).
Key competition: What's the pecking order at tailback? Will a veteran such as Derrick Coleman or Johnathan Franklin prevail, or will one of the touted incoming freshman take the lead spot? Two linebacker positions are uncertain: It's junior Steve Sloan versus sophomore Patrick Larimore in the middle and junior Sean Westgate against Glenn Love on the weak side. There are also "or"s on the depth chart between Aaron Hester and Andrew Abbott at right cornerback and Keenan Graham and Iuta Tepa at defensive end.
Breaking out: There are a lot of potential playmakers on offense. At the "F" position, there's Damien Thigpen and Morrell Presley. Smith and Randall Carroll could be legitimate deep threats. Defensive end Datone Jones looked like a force at times in the spring.
Quote: Neuheisel on expectations his team is due for a turnaround: "For the first time since I got to UCLA, we are an experienced football team. That doesn't mean we won't have an infusion of young guys that will still be key players. But we have guys like Rahim, Kevin Prince and Akeem Ayers. These guys have played and played at a high level. And our kicking game is quite possibly the best in the country."
Notes: The Bruins' top two tackles won't be around: Xavier Su'a-Filo is on a two-year Mormon mission, while Nik Abele was forced to retire because of neck problems. ... JC transfer Darius Bell might offer an athletic option at QB. ... Three incoming freshmen were kicked off the team for allegedly stealing a purse and are headed elsewhere: cornerback Shaquille Richardson (Arizona), LB Josh Shirley (Washington) and receiver Paul Richardson (perhaps Colorado).