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TENNESSEE +7 @ UCLA
MONDAY NIGHT COLLEGE FOOTBALL
To support Helmsman Jonathon Crompton’s maturation process is a veteran (4 starters back), impenetrable OL (just 4 sacks LY!) and a deep backfield—featuring RBs Arian Foster (1193 YR, 4.9 ypc, 12 TDs), Montario Hardesty (373 YR) & exciting soph Lennon Creer (214 YR, 5.9 ypc). Versatile soph “athlete” Gerald Jones (scored a couple of TDs as QB LY) looks like a good fit in Clawson’s “G-Gun” package. Also, early enrollee RB Tauren Poole impressed with his explosiveness & ruggedness. UT
returns an experienced trio of WRs in Lucas Taylor, Austin Rogers & Josh Brisco (combined 185 recs. and 15 TDs LY), plus rangy TEs 6-8 Jeff Cottam & 6-6 Luke Stocker, so the scoring output might not decline much from LY’s 33 ppg.
There’s greater confidence at DT, with run-plugging Dan Williams & big DeMonte’ Bolden back, while all-SEC jr. LB Rico McCoy (106 tackles; has added 20 pounds of muscle) supplies lots of stops & leadership. D.c. John Chavis expects his best returning secondary in years to dramatically reduce its big-play allowance (SEC-worst 25 TDP). 2007’s talented, force-fed frosh SS Eric Berry (5 ints. for 222 yds.) & CB Brent
Vinson are now super sophs, teaming with hard-hitting, reinstated jr. CB Demetrice Morley, who made a big impact as an ‘06 starter before missing last year due to academics.
UCLA Norm Chow is famous for his bag of tricks, and, despite the QB issues, isn’t completely shorthanded. There’s some experience on the OL (three starters return) and at RB, where punishing sr. Khalil Bell (795 YR in just 7 games LY) and bullish 236-lb. jr. Chane Moline provide a physical dimension to the infantry. And there are some intriguing WR targets, especially lanky 6-3 RS soph Dominique Johnson, who opened more than a few eyes with some circus catches down the stretch LY (including a one-handed TD grab vs. USC), and speedy Marcus Everett, a featured wideout in ‘06 when catching 31 passes but who was sidelined most of ‘07 with ankle woes. Meanwhile, soph PK Kai Forbath emerged as a capable replacement for decorated predecessor Justin Medlock, hitting 25 of 30 FGs LY.
As for Defensive Coordinator Walker, he has some challenges of his own with a stop unit that lost 6 starters and was gutted in the secondary, where 3 of 4 spots must be filled. But the cupboard isn’t bare, with some established playmakers (MLB Reggie Carter & CB Alterraun Verner in particular) still in the fold, and several frisky newcomers (such as RS FS Glenn Love) eager to show their stuff. Impact DE Brigham Harwell was also granted a medical RS after missing most of ‘07, and the DB recruits are touted as UCLA’s best
such group since Kenny Easley & Co. a generation ago.
FINAL THOUGHT: UCLA’s ground game should put them in position to win this game outright. Take the points. UCLA +7
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