So Bruins are heading into
When the team met Sunday, Coach Rick Neuheisel quickly addressed the need to handle this trip better than it did the
journey. He said he is considering changing some of the travel details to emphasize a new approach. Utah
The problem is a new one for Neuheisel, who won his first nine road games when he took over at
"It didn't seem so hard, but things have changed a little bit," Neuheisel said. "We've got to figure out how to play a better game on the road. A little bit of it is a mentality that it's us against the world. Somehow, everyone's got to bring that focus."
Autzen figures to be particularly rowdy Saturday. Ducks fans are not big supporters of Neuheisel. The grudge stretches back to 1995, when Neuheisel called a fake punt that led to a touchdown near the end of
Colorado's 38-6 Cotton Bowl victory over . Oregon
"I've got the black hat," Neuheisel said.
The anti-Neuheisel sentiment in
Oregonstems from a pair of incidents when he was at in the mid-1990s and faced the Ducks in a pair of bowl games. Following the 1995 season, Neuheisel's first season as a head coach, he led Colorado Coloradoto a 38-6 victory over in the Cotton Bowl. Oregon
Late in that game,
Coloradoran a fake punt that drew the ire of 's team and fan base, which is among the strongest and most faithful in the Pac-10. Oregon
"I am making no excuses," Neuheisel said. "It was a poor decision."
Following the 1998 season,
Coloradoand Oregonmet in the Aloha Bowl and after the game, Oregoncoach Mike Bellotti made a comment about his side being the better team, despite a 51-43 victory. Neuheisel's response of "scoreboard" didn't sit well with Ducks fans. Colorado
"It just kind of took off," Neuheisel said. "I probably wasn't mature enough to handle it the way I should have."
If that weren't enough, Bellotti was at one time a candidate for the UCLA job last December and many
fans did not want him to leave. Add to that the fact that Neuheisel also coached at Oregon Washington-- one of 's biggest and most-hated rivals -- and is a lifetime 4-1 against the Ducks, and the coach expects some unflattering words this weekend. Oregon
"I admire their program and I admire their coach," Neuheisel said. "What's happened at the
in terms of their athletic department and namely their football program has been astounding since coming to the Pac-10. Universityof Oregon
"There is great admiration there, from the coaches to the administration to (Nike owner) Phil Knight, to all of them. It's a big-time place."
And that’s about how much we will probably spend discussing this side plot heading into Saturday’s game. What happened between CRN and
What will matter for UCLA is to find out how our players come and respond. FWIW there have been some signs of continuity in our offense. As Dohn noted today the OL featured the same starting lineup for two straight games, while Austin and Embree are settling in fairly productive roles as dependable receivers:
"That's how you get better," Neuheisel said. "You keep throwing to the same guys, the offensive line is talking to the same people. Those things are huge as you try to mature as a football team."
Austin and Embree were UCLA's top receivers against the Cougars, not just catching the ball but in snaps. They were on the field for approximately half of UCLA's 74 offensive snaps, which is 50 percent more plays than third receiver Dominique Johnson participated in.
It was also more than twice the number of snaps of any other receiver played, and Austin and Embree both delivered.
led the Bruins with seven catches for 77 yards, and has a team-leading 27 catches. Embree made five catches for 63 yards and is third, behind tight end Ryan Moya (22catches) with 15 receptions. Austin
"Consistency is the reason," Neuheisel said Austin and Embree separated from the other receivers. "It's the ability to be where they're supposed to be, to be readable (for the quarterback), and make plays you have to make even in close quarters."
Meanwhile, left tackle Jeff Baca, left guard Darius Savage, center Jake Dean, right guard Scott Glicksberg and right tackle Nick Ekbatani started together for the second straight game.
It will be interesting to see how these guys come through on Saturday. You can pretty much count on Ducks to devise a defensive strategy that will force UCLA to win the game through Kevin Craft’s arm.
I think if the team finds a way to stay in the game heading into the fourth quarter, we will have a shot. Otherwise, it is going to be a long night in yet another difficult game in CRN’s first season. More on the Ducks later. Hopefully the team will be able to set aside all the off field distractions and focus on getting better as a team like they have doing for last three weekends. It sure sounds like CRN and his coaches are doing what they can to get their players in that mindset.