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KICKING THE TIRES: The University of California (Los Angeles)


Kansas State Wildcats (0-0) VS. UCLA Bruins (0-0)

K-State Family Reunion | Harley Day
Bill Snyder Family Stadium — Manhattan, Kan.
Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 — 2:36 PM CST


Click the jump for a preview of Slick Rick's boys...

Key Players


Carson Coffman* (71 of 117, 860 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT)

Brodrick Smith** (5 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD)

Daniel Thomas* (247 carries, 1,265 yards, 11 TD)

Wild Cards
Brandon Harold** (45 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 FF)
Tysyn Hartman* (54 tackles, 5 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Tramaine Thompson

*2009 stats
**2008 stats


Kevin Prince* (173 of 308, 2,050 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT)

Taylor Embree* (45 catches, 608 yards, 2 TD)

Johnathan Franklin* (126 carries, 566 yards, 5 TD)

Wild Cards
Akeem Ayers* (75 tackles, 4 INT, 3 PBU, 4 FF)
Kai Forbath* (28-31 FG, 24-25 XP)
Rahim Moore*
(49 tackles, 10 INT, 7 PBU)

*2009 stats

Key Stats

Rushing Offense*
K-State (36) > UCLA (97)

Passing Offense*
UCLA (52) > K-State (106)

Total Offense*
K-State (80) > UCLA (88)

Scoring Offense*
K-State (87) > UCLA (94)

Rushing Defense*
K-State (16) > UCLA (59)

Pass Efficiency Defense*
UCLA (41) > K-State (75)

Total Defense*
UCLA (32) > K-State (39)

Scoring Defense*
UCLA (27) > K-State (46)

Net Punting*
UCLA (19) > K-State (66)

Punt Returns*
K-State (43) > UCLA (57)

Kickoff Returns*
K-State (6) > UCLA (26)

Turnover Margin*
K-State (19) > UCLA (26)

Pass Defense*
UCLA (28) > K-State (83)

Passing Efficiency*
K-State (91) > UCLA (101)

*2009 stats


It's no secret that UCLA is pretty beaten up. Here's what ESPN had to say about the Bruins' fall camp:

All five starters from last year were projected to return this season, including 13 of 14 players on the 2009 depth chart. Yet guard Eddie Williams is the only returning starter who will be in the lineup at Kansas State, and even he missed half of the 2009 season with a fractured ankle.

Talented left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, who won a starting job as a true freshman, opted to go on a two-year Mormon mission. Then the chief candidate to replace him, Nik Abele, was forced to retire because of neck problems. Center Kai Maiava fractured his ankle during preseason camp. Guard Jeff Baca is academically ineligible. Right tackle Mike Harris is suspended for the Kansas State game. Toss in guard Stanley Hasiak's academic ineligibility, and Jake Dean ending his career a year early, and you have a lot of attrition from what might have been a greatly improved line.

Add to that uncertainty about whether Kevin Prince will play with a small tear in his back muscle, and you have the makings of an offense that could struggle tomorrow. UCLA's line now looks like this:

Those five are: right guard Williams, a junior college transfer; left tackle Sean Sheller, a fifth-year senior who spent much of his injury-riddled career on the defensive line; left guard Darius Savage, who started seven games in 2008 but fell out of favor last year; center Ryan Taylor, a JC transfer who started two games at guard and one at center in 2009; and right tackle Micah Kia, who started seven games in 2008 but missed last fall with a knee injury.

That doesn't mean UCLA doesn't have weapons, however. Prince or his backup Richard Brehaut will have some big, physical receivers to throw to, and Johnathan Franklin returns as the running back. Also, Josh Smith, who some might remember from Colorado, will be making his Bruin debut as a kick returner.

Meanwhile, two defenders stand out in particular. Free safety Rahim Moore led the nation in interceptions last season with 10 and ranked him as the best defensive back in the nation this year:

Free safeties are supposed to be playmakers, and Moore certainly fits that mold. Moore led the nation in interceptions last season with 10, giving him 13 picks in his two-year career. He got his interceptions in bunches, with multiple picks in games against San Diego State, Tennessee and Arizona. He also made 49 tackles and has seven pass breakups.

Meanwhile, Rivals ranked linebacker Akeem Ayers 11th in the country:

How much does Ayers mean to UCLA? Well, he's a linebacker who ranked fifth on the team in scoring last season. Ayers scored two touchdowns on interception returns and also reached the end zone on a fumble return. He forced four fumbles and picked off four passes to go along with six sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.

And if that wasn't enough, we better hope it isn't a close game or that Kai Forbath misses the game with a nagging groin injury he's had lately. All the Rivals No. 1-ranked kicker did last season was win the Lou Groza Award:

You could say that Forbath is UCLA's best offensive player and no Bruin would object. Forbath, an All-America and the reigning Groza Award winner, has established himself as the best kicker in the nation. He's hit nine field goals from at least 50 yards and has a career .867 percentage (72-of-83).

Those are UCLA's strengths. Their weakness is their front seven, where Ayers is the only returning starter from a defensive front that dominated us last year. Look for Snyder to pound Thomas early and often, rather than testing the experienced and talented UCLA secondary.

In terms of positional match-ups, it won't surprise anyone that K-State was better at rush offense and rush defense last year, while UCLA was better at pass offense and pass efficiency defense. I don't expect that to change much this season.

More surprising is that K-State was better in both total and scoring offense last season. We also excelled in punt returns and kick returns compared to the Bruins, and like all Snyder teams, we were better in turnover margin.

None of that matters this year, of course, but it does give some sense as to what each team wants to do. In an attempt to have more rushing success, UCLA has switched to Nevada's pistol offense, which they're calling the "revolver." It's a modified version of the shotgun in which the running back stands behind the QB, not next to him.

I tend to agree with some analysis I heard on the radio this afternoon, which is that Prince might not be the best suited to run the revolver, and his lingering injury that has caused him to miss more than half of fall camp won't help. I don't think the UCLA offense is going to be a juggernaut by any means.

So, to recap: We don't really know anything about these teams yet, but we think UCLA will try to pass and K-State will try to run. UCLA should be weak against the run, and K-State likely is weakish at linebacker and cornerback.

It's a battle of opposites and it probably will be a low-scoring, close game. UCLA has an advantage if it comes down to a kick, but K-State will have the home crowd advantage and the single most talented player on the field.

Prediction: Kansas State 25, UCLA 24

BracketCat's Projected Starters

QB: Carson Coffman
FB: Braden Wilson
RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Aubrey Quarles, Brodrick Smith
TE: Travis Tannahill
OL: Manase Foketi, Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Ethan Douglas

DL: Brandon Harold, Prizell Brown, Ray Kibble, Antonio Felder
LB: Jarell Childs, Alex Hrebec
DB: Troy Butler, Stephen Harrison, Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, Terrance Sweeney

K: Josh Cherry
P: Ryan Doerr
R: Brodrick Smith, Tramaine Thompson

Elsewhere in the Big 12...

This should be a pretty boring week for the rest of the Big 12. Most of them are playing total rummies at home. We bit off by far the toughest game this week, and if the conference doesn't go 12-0 this week, it's probably our fault or Colorado's. Even KU should have no trouble with what's easily the worst team on its schedule.

Colorado vs. Colorado State (The Mtn.)
Buffaloes 34, Rams 30

Stephen F. Austin at Texas A&M
Aggies 50, Lumberjacks 24

Western Kentucky at #8 Nebraska (FSN PPV)
Cornhuskers 48, Hilltoppers 14

Washington State at Oklahoma State (FSN)
Cowboys 37, Cougars 17

North Dakota State at Kansas (FCS)
Jayhawks 42, Bison 20

Utah State at #7 Oklahoma (FSN PPV)
Sooners 40, Aggies 7

Missouri vs. Illinois (FSN)
Tigers 31, Illini 20

Sam Houston State at Baylor
Bears 53, Bearkats 29

#5 Texas at Rice (ESPN)
Longhorns 40, Owls 8

SMU at Texas Tech (ESPN)
Red Raiders 37, Ponies 13

All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out — it's pretty cool.