July 27, 2010

2010 Forecast: UCLA

The Houston Cougars scheduled their first road game of the 2010 season much like the 2009 season. Against a BCS conference opponent that will garner the Cougars much attention if they come away with a win. UCLA will not be ranked as high as Oklahoma State was a year ago, but the venue which has become the road game to go to for Cougar fans in 2010, will likely become one of the more memorable in recent history.

The UCLA Bruins and head coach Rick Neuheisel[db] come into the 2010 season looking for continued improvement. The Bruins hope that the third year in offensive coordinator [db]Norm Chow's offense is the year in which the most progress is made. 2009 saw the Bruins finish with seven wins, the most since Neuheisel took over three years ago, but left the fans wanting more as injuries plagued the team most of the year.

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince returns and looks to bounce back after fighting the injury bug last season. Prince missed time last year due to a broken jaw suffered in a win over Tennessee and a shoulder injury suffered late in the season during the USC loss. Prince will look to take advantage of added freedom in Chow's offense as a newly installed "Revolver" set is added which will be similar to Nevada's "Pistol" offense which has had success in recent years.

Joining Prince in the backfield will be tailback sophomore Jonathan Franklin looks to improve on an up and down season that saw him show flashes of brilliance early on, but fade towards the end of the season. Also don't count out appearances from a pair of four star freshmen in Jordan James and Malcolm Jones if Franklin is not getting it done.

The receiving corps could be the brightest spot for the Bruins as they return two big targets in 6-foot-5 junior Nelson Rosario and 6-foot-3 junior Taylor Embree. Both stood out at times last season despite the inconsistencies from the quarterback position. Also joining the mix this season will be Colorado transfer Josh Smith who gives the Bruins a deep threat.

Despite the recent news that guard Stan Hasiak will not be available to the Bruins for the 2010 season, they still have a solid offensive line returning with four starters. The line will be looked on to create opportunities for the offense as it's most seasoned unit.

Defensively the Bruins will be good up the middle with senior All-American safety Rahim Moore and All-Conference linebacker Akeem Ayers. In the defensive backfield Moore will look to get help from young cornerbacks Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester, while the defensive line group will depend on good play from senior defensive tackle David Carter and junior end Datone Jones.

Special teams is seen as a strong point for the Bruins as Senior kicker, and 2009 Lou Groza award winner, Kai Forbath and sophomore 2009 Ray Guy semi-finalist Jeff Locke are two of the best in the country. Transfer Smith will also add punch to the Bruins return game.

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