BN Gameday Roundup: Bruins Set For Stanford's Power Attack?

Here is to Palo Alto turning Bruin Blue. Photo Credit: Jim Boofer

Just few more hours to go till our kickoff. I think we have done a pretty good job of exhausting the various story lines around this game in last two weeks. The game day stories both from the LA and Bay Area newspapers don't really offer up anything new this morning. Still might as well go through them before we immerse ourselves into college football Saturday. The main storyline around today's game will obviously be Gergart and Stanford's offense showdown against the UCLA defense. At the same time an anxious Bruin Nation is going to hold its collective breath to see how Craft led UCLA offense can manage the game on the road.

We will start with the key matchup of the day which will be headline by Gerhart and Reggie Carter. The emotional leader of the Bruin defense and his team-mates seem fired up and ready to go:

"Physical, physical, physical," Carter said. "I've been waiting for a game like this again. Playing Tennessee was great, but then Kansas State came in and started hitting us with that crazy spread stuff.

"Stanford plays old-fashioned, downhill football. They have a downhill back, and an aggressive offensive line. I'm looking forward to this game.

"I'm not going to trash talk. They say they're physical. I'm not going to back down. I'm going to be ready and waiting for them." [...]

The Bruins are ranked ninth nationally against the run. Stanford, with 235-pound Toby Gerhart averaging 129 yards rushing behind a line that averages 297 pounds, is 11th nationally in rushing offense. [...]

"We know these guys are runners," said UCLA defensive end Korey Bosworth. "That's what they say, their bread and butter is that power play. As far as I can tell, we're not too bad against the run. When we get a team that runs the ball, I really look forward to it."

Neheisel and co will be looking to Carter and Bosworth to manage the point of Stanford attack:

"You better put on your big-boy pads," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "They come at you.

"We've been fairly stout in the early part of the season but this is going to be the biggest test thus far. We've got to be able to manage the point of attack. It's going to be a great challenge for our guys in the front seven."

Offensively, Stanford's point of attack will be Gerhart, who ran for a career-high 200 yards in last week's victory over Washington.

Gerhart isn't the kind of running back who is going to fake out would-be defenders with side-to-side moves. If you're in his way, he'll run right over you. It's a technique that resulted in 1,136 yards and 5.4 yards per carry in 2008.

However, Bruin defense will have more than Gerhart to worry about. Stanford has a solid QB in Andrew Luck who has done a pretty good job of managing the game as a red shirt freshman. Although Harbaugh hasn't depended on Luck's arm, his production has been extremely efficent as he has complete 50 out of 83 passes with 4 touchdowns and 2 picks. Luck also has decent weapons to throw to Owusu and Ryan Whalen

We have talked about Owusu's game breaking ability (specifically in the special teams) this week, but we can't forget about Whalen who has teamed up with Owusu for 29 catches and 470 yards, giving Luck couple of dependable targets. It is going to be a huge challenge for our defense. They have been able to shut down our previous three opponents (keeping them within 300 yards). It is going to be interesting to see whether they can do the same today. Meanwhile, on the other end it is going to be interesting to see how the offense with Craft under center performs on the road. More on them after the jump.

All week we have been talking about how our defense is going to handle Gerhart. The Bruin offensive running attack in contrast hasn't gotten a lot of attention. Jon Gold from the Daily News writes:

The Bruins counter with a bit of lightning to Gerhart's thunder. While not nearly as prolific as the Cardinal's hot start on the ground, UCLA's running game has shown vast improvement over last season, with redshirt freshman Johnathan Franklin and sophomore Derrick Coleman leading the way. Franklin has rushed for 242 yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries, for a 4.7 average, and Coleman has picked up 116 yards and a score on just 18 carries.

With all the hype surrounding Stanford's running game, the Bruins believe it is their turn to get some attention.

"There's been a lot of talk about that, but I think the guys up front are ready," redshirt sophomore center Kai Maiava said. "We're ready to prove ourselves, get the respect we deserve."

Well, we will find out what they can do at the Farm. I am particularly curious to see what Knox can do today. While Franklin and Coleman have been pretty solid this season, I would love to see Chow throwing in few screen plays for Knox or get him out on the open field, so he can show some of the moves he displayed at Neyland stadium. In addtion to Knox, Norm Chow will have Christian Ramirez at his disposal today. Christian of course had a pretty memorable game in his first trip to Palo Alto. However, that was a long time ago under a different coach against a completely different Stanford team in Harbaugh's first season.

Not sure if I need to go over the Kevin Craft factor. Everyone here is well aware of it. The kid hasn't had a good game on the road in his UCLA career. However, that history is from last year when he played a team with no offensive line and thus credible running attack featuring a gimpy senior (full of heart) and a true freshman. Hopefully the offensive line today will come through with some pass protection giving Craft some time to execute on offense.

We have also talked about the revenge factor. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Everybody remembers the UCLA game last year, especially the defense," linebacker Clinton Snyder said. "All offseason, we said, 'We've got to finish.' "

Harbaugh called it "a bitter defeat" that "stuck in everybody's craw in the offseason." He said of the final drive that his players want "to make darn sure it never happens again."


We will have our game thread up about 30 minutes before the kickoff. Don't forget to get your pregame guesses in as we will close that thead when the game one goes up. Might also throw up a pre game thread right in about an hour. Enjoy the Saturday.

GO BRUINS.

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