Brett Hundley against Stanford
The task of replacing both Johnathan Franklin and Joe Fauria isn't an enviable one by any stretch of the imagination for the UCLA Bruins.
Franklin and Fauria were the Bruins' top two skill position players from a year ago. The duo combined for 27 touchdowns last season.
However, not all is lost for the Bruins. Head coach Jim Mora has a roster chock full of young and talented players.
Here are the five best offensive weapons that Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone have at their disposal.
Thigpen figures to be a factor in the return game
Frankly (no pun intended), there won't be one running back on the roster that will replicate the numbers put up by Franklin last season.
It will be somewhat of a running back-by-committee scenario this season, unless one back completely separates himself from the derby.
If not for a torn ACL, tailback Damien Thigpen might be higher on this list.
The diminutive 5'8" 180-pound speedster from Gainesville, Va. is arguably the most versatile Bruin on the offensive side of the ball. Thigpen was the third-leading rusher on the team last year with 262 yards on 50 carries. He also had 18 catches out of the backfield for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
Often times, Thigpen acted as the security blanket out of the backfield for Hundley. His agility in the open field made him heavily targeted on swing passes and screens.
The redshirt senior is also a standout on special teams. Not only is he arguably the best punt and kickoff returner on the team, but he's also very good as a gunner. His toughness and straight-line speed make him a very good special teams player.
Thigpen suffered a torn ACL against Southern Cal. He's yet to return to action, but should be available once the season starts. His impending return is huge for Mora's squad. The running back corps as a whole is somewhat inexperienced.
Thigpen will not only add much needed experience, but he'll also add production and flexibility in the process.
Payton making a nice grab on the sidelines
Evans led the team last season in receptions with 60. He also was second in touchdown grabs with three. While not flashy in any sense, the senior from Inglewood is a very solid receiver. He's a good route-runner, a great blocker and a physical presence.
Dually, Payton has many of the same qualities.
The sophomore from Oaks Christian High School may have the best set of hands on the team. He's displayed great hand-eye coordination—using his immensely strong hands to pluck balls out of the air.
Payton is also not afraid to run across the middle of the field to make the catch in traffic. He won't "out-juke" anyone, and his game isn't predicated upon speed or quickness. However, he runs great routes and uses his bigger body quite well against smaller defenders.
It wouldn't be a shock to see either lead the team in catches this upcoming season. Payton in particular has really come on during this spring.
Lucien snagging the ball out of the air like a piece of fruit
Some reading this piece are probably wondering why Devin Lucien is ranked ahead of both Payton and Evans.
Lucien only had 10 catches last season. Evans had 60 on the season, while Payton had 18. The reason for Lucien's place on this list?
Potential, as in potential home-run threat every time he touches the ball. The former Crespi High School star was among the best on the team with an 18.8 yards per catch average. Lucien displayed a tremendous combination of body control and leaping ability when going up for the ball in the air.
He also flashed the ability to get lots of YAC. The tools are there for Lucien to be an all-conference receiver one day. However, he has to become more consistent with his approach. Lucien has also battled injuries throughout his time in Westwood.
Regardless, look for Lucien to take a big step up this season from a productivity standpoint. He's the true threat to take the top off a defense for the Bruins. He also could be the most innately talented receiver on the roster.
Fuller should have a breakout year
Fast-forward a year, and Fuller could be the most explosive wide receiver on the entire roster.
Fuller was switched to wide receiver during the beginning of the season last year. Truth be told, he wasn't going to supplant Hundley as the starting quarterback. Conversely, Fuller was too talented of an athlete to languish on the bench.
As a result, Fuller got time at wide receiver. By the end of the season, Fuller became a starter.
It's quite a testament to Fuller's ability. For a player with no relative experience at the position, it's astounding that he was able to start as a true freshman. It's even more telling as to his overall package of intelligence and athleticism.
This past spring, Fuller's become more polished as a receiver. It's also been noted that the Bruins are installing a wildcat package for Fuller. With his experience as a quarterback—and his overall quickness as a football player—it could be a lethal and highly-productive entity for the Bruins.
Fuller is just scratching the surface on his immense potential. With another year of experience at the position, Bruin fans could be looking at a potential star in the making.
Hundley could be a darkhorse Heisman candidate in '13
Is there any question that Brett Hundley would top this list?
The Chandler, Ariz. native had a fantastic season last year. As a redshirt freshman, he threw for 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also completed passes at an eye-popping 66.6 percent clip.
With Franklin gone, more of an impetus will be placed upon the shoulders of Hundley. He'll be expected to take on a bigger role from a leadership standpoint. With a year of experience under his belt, Hundley should be more adept at comprehending the little nuances of the position.
According to CBS, Hundley has gained 20 pounds from the end of last year, and is now up to 230 pounds. He also is down to eight percent body fat. Not only will Hundley be physically stronger, but he should also be more explosive when running the zone read.
Hundley is already one of the nation's best quarterbacks, and it's scary to think that he could theoretically be in college for three more seasons.