Wednesday, July 9, 2008
While you were on vacation... UCLA
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The seventh of 10 quick hit updates of off-season Pac-10 goings on.
In a sentence:
- New coach Rick Neuheisel and an outstanding staff face an uphill battle -- even if quarterback Ben Olson somehow manages to stay healthy -- in their first season if the expectation is an immediate climb back into the top third of the conference.
The big question:
- The overriding issue is an offensive line that needs to replace four starters from 2007's mediocre crew -- and that was even before projected starting right tackle Sean Sheller suffered season-ending injuries in an ATV accident.
Quick hit news:
- Sheller didn't even look like a starter at the beginning of spring. He ascended on the depth chart because returning starter Aleksey Lanis left the program due to a recurring knee injury. So the Bruins will be down to their third choice at one tackle, which might even be true freshman Mike Harris, though some line shuffling also could happen.
- Obviously needing to shore up the line, UCLA in late June signed Donovan Edwards, a a 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle from Diablo Valley Community College, who will be eligible to play this fall if he successfully completes summer school classes. Edwards will have four years to play three seasons, according to the LA Times.
- Olson has been cleared to play after he broke a bone in his right foot on April 24 -- just moments after Patrick Cowan, who had risen to No. 1 on the depth chart, went down with a season-ending knee injury. While the injury-prone Olson will be the decided front-runner to start on Sept. 1 when Tennessee comes to town, don't be surprised if transfer Kevin Craft pushes him during preseason practices.
- A lot has been written recently about UCLA losing a pair of previously committed, marquee defensive back recruits: Marlon Pollard to Notre Dame and Byron Moore to -- GAH! -- USC. Moore is a lifelong USC fan, so his defection should be no surprise. But LA Daily News writer Brian Dohn suspects that Pollard still might end up a Bruin. It's worth watching. Word is teenagers are sometimes a bit fickle. Wonder who will win more games this year: UCLA or ND?