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Getting to Know UCLA

Well, with the game coming up tomorrow, I suppose we should get to know UCLA's football team.  Here's who you should know:

If you haven't heard already, Ben Olson is out 4-6 weeks, meaning he won't be playing on Saturday.  Taking his place will be Patrick Cowan.  Cowan has a very strong arm.  He played well against Arizona last week, completing 20 of 29 passes for 201 yards, two scores, and no interceptions.  There's no doubt that the kid has talent, and he was very composed against Arizona last week.  The question for Cowan will be how does he handle his first road game in a very hostile environment?  

Running Back
Yes, the Bruins lost Maurice Drew to the NFL, but starter Chris Markey is a name that Duck fans might want to forget.  Last time the Ducks played the Bruins Markey had 131 yards rushing and 84 yards receiving.  Markey is only averaging  98.4 ypg on the ground this year, but we know that even an average back can have a big game against Oregon.  His backup, Khalil Bell, also averages 44.8 ypg on the ground

Wide Receivers
It doesn't appear that UCLA has a go-to receiver.  Instead, they spread the ball around a lot with their leading receiver only averaging 36 ypg.  Leading receiver Brandon Breazell is a bit smallish a 6'0" and 156 lbs.  But he's fast, has good hands, and can block.  Four other receivers, Junior Taylor, Matt Willis, Ryan Moya, and Loga Paulsen all average over 20 ypg receiving.

Offensive Line
How much can you really say about an offensive line without seeing them in person?  The offensive line has four new starters, but has seemed to play pretty well.  They have allowed UCLA quarterbacks to be sacked only 8 times in five games.

Defensive Line
After last season, its hard to believe that UCLA is ranked #2 in the country in total defense.  The defensive line has been a big reason.  Senior end Justin Hickman is the beast that anchors the defensive line.  Through five games, he has nine tackles and 6.5 sacks.  Dennis Dixon has only been sacked twice--so something's gotta give.  Other names to know on the line are Bruce Davis, Kevin Brown, Nikola Dragovic, Brigham Harwell, and Chase Moline.  So far this season, they have been very, very good.

The linebackers have also been very good this season.  Christian Taylor leads the way with 3.5 TFL and 2 sacks.  Aaron Whittington, Kyle Bosworth and redshirt freshman Reggie Carter will also play a lot.  Taylor is the big beast, though.  UCLA runs a 4-3 system, and Taylor covers a lot of ground.

Defensive Backs
The seconday is led by safety Chris Horton, who is known as an extremely hard hitter.  Dennis Keyes is their other safety and leading tackler.  He is a very good coverage man.  This safety tandem is one of the best in the conference.  Lots of players will split time at cornerback, but Al Verner and Trey Brown get a lot of they playing time, and have two interceptions each.

Special Teams
Kicker Justin Medlock has been very good this year:  12-13 on field goals and perfect on extra points.  Aaron Perez, the punter, has an unspectacular 38.3 yards average.   UCLA has a couple of speedsters returning kicks, but both their coverage and blocking on special teams has been a fiasco this year.

Well, hopefully this helps you meet the Bruins.  We'll post the preview later today.