Pac-10 Football: 5 UCLA Underclassmen Who Will Revive the Defense in 2011

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Pac-10 Football: 5 UCLA Underclassmen Who Will Revive the Defense in 2011
It feels like a long time since Bruin football fans have had much to cheer about, but the future isn't so bleak

Three years into coach Rick Neuheisel’s tenure, the UCLA Bruins are a mess.

Starting quarterback Kevin Prince, who is out for the season with a knee injury, has proven to be as durable as tissue paper.

In Thursday’s 24-7 deflating defeat to the Washington Huskies, Richard Brehaut’s passes were so inaccurate, he’d have had problems hitting the Space Needle if he were standing next to it with a bag of balls.

The (third-string, junior college transfer) Darius Bell experiment was a colossal failure. His only caught pass was a fourth-quarter touchdown…off an interception return, which put the game out of reach for the Bruins.

Is Clayton Tunney, the walk-on currently serving as the fourth quarterback, UCLA’s best shot under center at advancing to the 2010 postseason?

Questions like the previous one have distraught Bruin fans in hiding. 16 season-ending injuries (and counting) to scholarship players, in addition to multiple suspensions for team rules violations, have decimated talent levels to the point that UCLA has, for the time being, usurped the title of laughing stock of the Pac-10 from Washington State, who is coming off a recent upset over Oregon State.

But there is reason for optimism, Bruin fans.

Even if the Bruins have a mathematical chance of advancing to a bowl game, 2010 feels like a wash with two games left. But Neuheisel has assembled a talented corps of underclassmen who will serve as a staunch fixture on the defensive side of the ball in 2011 and beyond. 

As poorly as the Bruins’ No. 104-ranked offense has played the last two weeks against Oregon State and Washington, UCLA’s defense and special teams have been their most notable assets for several years.

Let’s take a look at some of the key defensive personnel who should restore pride to Bruin Nation in 2011:

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