A lot of talent is leaving UCLA, but a lot of talent is coming in too.
In my opinion, the biggest hole next season will be at the running back position. Johnathan Franklin had a great career at UCLA and his legacy will live on. Damien Thigpen, who is coming off ACL surgery, might be ready to go for UCLA in spring, but will definitely be in the mix by fall. Redland’s RB and elite 2013 prospect Craig Lee is coming in and figures to compete for the starting position. Talk about breakaway speed, this guy reminds me of LaDainian Tomlinson. With the loss of Franklin, the Bruins might have trouble filling the hole that he left. But there is a ton of talent with potential to fill the gaps.
The running game is a big part of the spread offense. A part of why J. Frank was so successful was because he was used as a receiver out of the backfield, which made defenses change up their schemes. For the Bruins to be successful, their running game needs to hit the ground running (no pun intended) right off the bat. Yes, we do have Brett Hundley under center, but you can’t have him throw the ball 40-50 times a game—it’ll wear out his young cannon-arm.
I have a great amount of confidence in this young UCLA offense. Whether it’s Steven Manfro, Malcolm Jones, Paul Perkins, Thigpen or Lee, I know these guys will make plays. It can’t hurt that they have a young, beefed-up offensive line to pave the way out front. With the addition of Kenny Lacy, Caleb Benenoch, Alex Redmond and the lot, look for UCLA to pound the ground game in 2013.