Sharks, blood, and the cold bay water

The best way to describe my state of mind heading into this weekend - I feel just the way I used to feel the days before Lavin coached basketball teams would head into Arizona's McKale center. Sure, in sports there is always a chance for any team to pull out a miracle win, like those meaningless miracle wins Lavin used to pull out at Maples. But, when you try to look at matchups, without being blatant homers, involving UCLA teams coached by incompetent leaders, it is difficult not to have a sense of resignation.

Simply put, the sharks are going to circling in the cold bay water this weekend hungry for some Bruin blood.  And, if not for another moral victory (hooray) or a miracle (i.e. Tedford hallucinating in the sidelines and deciding to kick to MJD - oh wait that little bugger is not around any more to save KD), it could be a long night for the Bruins Nation.

Let's take a look at the numbers courtesy of Tom Hansen's Mom and Pop shop.

If Dorrell wants to save his rear end this weekend he will have to do it with offense.  We will get to the defensive numbers below. But it's the UCLA offense, which will finally for once have to come through on the road against a Cal D, which does give up chunks of yardage (via its inexperienced secondary). Here are the numbers in which you will note Cal is last in the Pac-10 in terms of yards given up via passing, and 8th in the Pac-10 in terms of total defense:

Bruin Offense v. Bear Defense

Bruin Offense 06 Rank Per Game Bear Defense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense 8 120.2 Rushing Defense 6 129.4
Pass Offense 6 201.0 Pass Defense 10 246.5
Pass Eff. Offense 8 116.8 Pass Eff. Defense 6 123.5
Total Offense 8 321.2 Total Defense 8 375.9
Scoring Offense 8 23.2 Scoring Defense 4 19.1

Well, before you get too excited, here is the rub. Cal, despite having a vulnerable D, gives up less than 20 points a game, and is tied for 4th in the Pac-10 (19.1 pts a game). And that is not good news for the Bruin offense, whose red zone offense looks just as efficient and smooth as John Kerry delivering his vanilla lines at some campaign trail. More from Cal blogger Tightwad Hill:

UCLA has been to the red zone 29 times on the season. In those 29 trips, they have scored only 12 touchdowns, a truly pitiful result. Their offensive struggles have likely made Justin Medlock an All-America selection, but settling for field goals doesn't cut it in the high-scoring Pac 10. Cal, by contrast, has reached the end zone 19 times out of 23 trips inside the twenty.

This Saturday, UCLA is facing the best red zone defense in the Pac: Cal has only allowed 9 touchdowns in 21 red zone possessions by the opposition. This fact, paired with Cal's +10 turnover margin, explains how a team that ranks 8th in Total Defense can be regarded as having a pretty good defense.
Well, this is it for KD. After the Arizona game we heard from his crew about how there wasn?t going to be any drop off under Patrick Cowan. We have been hearing the whole season how his team has been ?growing? and ?learning.? If he wants to reverse the now unmistakable trend of his teams not finishing during the second half of mediocre football seasons, then for once his offense will have to come through, and finish the job in the red zone.

Maybe just maybe he will help his cause by having the best athletes on the field during those red zone opportunities. Here is a hint KD. Perhaps you want to opt for taller, more athletic, and faster WRs like GK and TA during those situations, instead of having Bill Plashcke?s favorite walk-on on the field. Just saying.

Now on offense ? what is there to say? The Bruin defense is getting tired. And they are not going to get any respite this weekend as they get to take on quire possibly the most explosive offense in the Pac-10.

No excuses coming out of those coffee shops on Telegraph Road about Bears having to ?learn? and ?grow? with a first year starter at QB (yes Longshore started one game last season against some no name school, but it was just as significant as a QB getting some mop up time towards end of the game). Here are the matchups between a tired Bruin D v. a rested Bear O:

Bruin Defense v. Bear Offense
Bruin Defense 06 Rank Per Game Bear Offense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense 1 82.1 Rushing Offense 3 171.4
Pass Defense 6 214.4 Pass Offense 1 268.5
Pass Eff. Defense 5 122.8 Pass Eff. Offense 1 146.9
Total Defense 2 296.5 Total Offense 2 439.9
Scoring Defense 2 18.6 Scoring Offense 2 36.6

Again, if the Bruins really mean what they say in terms of supporting their coaches, then this defense may just man up, and come out fired up against a juggernaut Bear team. But the odds are stacked against them. The Bears can feel it. They haven?t been to the Rose Bowl in more than five decades, and this will be their opportunity to make another emphatic statement on national television following their last impressive showing against Oregon.

Like I said above, sharks, blood, and cold water. Good luck to all the die hards who are making the trip up north.

Yikes. The Halloween may stretch into this Saturday for Dorrell's team.

GO BRUINS.

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