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UCLA Also Face Questions in Season Opener

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Kevin Prince. AP Photo/Reed Saxon
Among all the Pac-10 teams, the UCLA Bruins are perhaps the biggest enigmas. Not only have they gone to a version of the Pistol offense they are referring to as the Revolver, but the entire team had issues merely staying healthy during fall camp which does not bode well for head coach Rick Neuheisel entering his third season with the program. And this third year will not be easy with one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Not only are they opening the season at Kansas State who have not lost a home opener since 1989 in head coach Bill Snyder’s first year of his first stint with the Wildcats, but they are also hosting the Houston Cougars and going to Austin to face Texas.

Although quarterback Kevin Prince finally was able to throw passes this past week in practice it will be interesting to see how the torn muscle in his back will affect him. Fortunately the Bruins have a very capable backup in Richard Brehaut who in six games last season off the bench went 11-for-17 for 124 yards and an interception.

Prince or Brehaut aside, the biggest question on offense is the line. Center Kai Maiava is out indefinitely with a fractured right ankle. Left tackle Xavier Su’a-Filo is on a two-year Mormon mission. Left guard Jeff Baca is out due to NCAA eligibility issues and right tackle Mike Harris is suspended for this game due to violation of team rules.

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The defense will also have their hands full with the Wildcat’s rush-first attack and their occasional Wildcat formation plays. The Bruins do not have a returning starter on the defensive line and return only outside linebacker Akeem Ayers in the front seven. So if they have any hope in coming out of Manhattan with a win, they’re going to have to tackle which is something Los Angeles college football fans have yet to see this season.

But Kansas State have their own issues to deal with. Starting quarterback and fifth-year senior Carson Coffman went 2-2 in four starts last season and was benched for Grant Gregory, a sixth-year senior transfer from South Florida. So confidence issues arise with Coffman behind center.

But the Wildcats have senior running back Daniel Thomas who averaged 105 yards of rushing per game last season, however he only managed 54 yards in 15 attempts averaging only 3.6 yards per carry with a touchdown in the Bruins’ 23-9 win at the Rose Bowl in week three.

So who knows?

The oddsmakers have this game to be a low-scoring one with the over/under at 46.5 points and the Bruins a slight 1 ½ point favorite. So this is essentially a pick em game.

Kansas State defeats UCLA 20-17.

TV: ABC. Radio: AM 570 KLAC. Saturday, 12:30 pm