August 10, 2004
Sounding like so many of his peers, second-year UCLA coach Karl Dorrell is expecting better things because of perceived change in the attitude of his players.
How it all got there, though, is a tad bit different from the other schools.
First, Dorrell made significant changes on his staff.
The most important was hiring Tom Cable from Idaho to install the West Coast offense and tutor the offensive line.
Secondly, Dorrell made some personal adjustments in his management of the program in wake of a tumultuous maiden voyage as a head coach.
And third, Dorrell improved the communication with his players.
"We’ve made so many changes," said Dorrell, a one-time assistant under Bruce Snyder at Arizona State. "Everything is to my liking. I’m at my comfort level. Things have been very, very positive."
Added quarterback Drew Olson, "Everybody is extremely close. A lot of motivation comes from last season."
Ah, last year.
The Bruins were a mirage at 6-2 (one of the losses was 59-24 at Oklahoma) that crashed and burned with five straight losses, including an ugly 17-9 defeat to Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Classic.
Five straight losses while crosstown rival USC was winning a share of the national championship resulted in Dorrell having one of the shortest honeymoons for a Bruins coach.
His every move, calls, and facial expressions were scrutinized by media and fans.
"You live through it," a smiling Dorrell said of his introductory year to head coaching. "I’m still standing."
Dorrell will try to keep smiling with an upbeat attitude. He speaks more of what will happen, as he sees it, not what might happen.
For example, of the rebuilt offensive line, he said, "They were tremendous in the offseason. They will change the standard of offense."
There will be no quarterback controversy as there was a year ago with Olson firmly established as the starter.
The Bruins will miss end Dave Ball, last year’s Pac-10 defensive player of the year, but they’re hoping juniorcollege transfer Kyle Morgan, a defensive end, shows why Miami signed him out of high school.
Asked about coaching in the shadow of the powerhouse at USC, Dorrell, a Bruins alum, reminded the questioner UCLA has its own tradition. Then he made a bold prediction.
"Our goal is to build UCLA to what it was, to UCLA’s stature," he said. "That stature will happen very soon."
EXTRA POINTS: Olson and the Bruins could get a big lift if 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide receiver Tab Perry, an academic casualty last year, regains his eligibility. . . . Dorrell expects two freshman offensive linemen to play this season. . . .
The new assistants are Cable, quarterbacks coach Jim Svoboda, and receivers coach Dino Babers, a former offensive coordinator under Dick Tomey at Arizona. . . . Mesa High alum Junior Taylor began fall drills as the starter at split end.