Spaulding Roundup: Trojans Open As 13 Point Favorites, Team Stats And Other Beat $C* Notes

We will not link to any kind of online sports betting websites here. However, for those who are wondering the opening line for Saturday's game has the Trojans has 13 points favorites. It will be interesting to see which way the line moves this week. Our side has the momentum heading in with a 3 game win streak but I kind of agree with this line because we are still taking on (at least on paper) the most talented team in the conference (and one of the best in college football). The Bruins might be feeling good about themselves right now. Before they get a little to carried away though, they just need to think back to how they are feeling and had theirs chests all puffed up heading into Stanford game with a record of 3-0.

I expect UCLA to win every time we take on Southern Cal no matter what the circumstances are and who is coaching or quarterbacking the team. That's the lesson I took after watching that Barnes2JJ magic (I will not call it miracle because this kind of stuff seems to happen a lot in this game) in person. If folks want to go back through BN archives they can read up the posts leading up to the games last four years. No matter what the situation were we always expected our team to win. This year more of us have a little confidence because it seems like our defense is getting a little stronger and our offense is showing signs of maturity. For the first time in four years we are going into a game with a team which has a little something on both sides of the ball. In prior years we would have one or the other (we had strong defenses in 08, 07, and 06, while went in with a strong offense in 05). We will see what transpires on the field on Saturday. I think if we can put together the best practice of the entire season and translate that into an amazing effort of smart football, we are going to have a great shot.

Here are the numbers at quick glance between the two teams:

NCAA Stats

UCLA

U$C*

Offense Pts Scored

22.6

27.5

Defense Pts Allowed

20.6

21.7

Total Offense Yds PG

341

400

Rush Yds/G

115

181

Pass Yds/G

226

219

Rush Yds Allowed/G

146

136

Pass Yds Allowed/G

193

212

Turover Margin

0.73

-0.31

So what's the deal? Let's talk some more about it with other football notes after the jump.

I think the biggest worry I have heading into Saturday is how the heck will our defense contain Allen Bradford and Joe McKnight. All season our defense has taken a while to  get it going in every game. We saw just last weekend how our defensive front 7 made the ASU RB look like an All Pac-10 back in the early going before settling down and making adjustments. I am not sure if we are going to have that luxury aganst Bradford and especially Knight.

I am already having nightmares thinking about McKnight coming around that edge and exploding through our LBs and DBs. CRN is saying that UCLA will try to take a balanced approach in facing U$C*'s defense (despite Heisman Barkley's recent slump):

USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley's recent struggles — he had thrown three interceptions in the Trojans' loss to Stanford — will not change UCLA's game plan, Neuheisel said.

The Bruins will not become blitz-happy, but attempt to maintain a balanced attack.

"I don't think you can be ever just one thing," Neuheisel said. "You have to be diversified and give different looks. Barkley is obviously a huge talent, but they can't manufacture more experience for them. We can't give them one look that allows them to be comfortable."

That sounds right. However, I'd like to see our defense bring the pressure early from different directions and mix up our looks. Obviously everyone is excited about Ayers lining up at the end deviating from his base 4-3 look he has been using most of the season. I also liked having Brian Price coming off the edge last weekend (which led to the fumble recover for TD late in the first half). I think against this Trojan offense we will have to do some of the same things to rattle the freshman QB. What we cannot afford do is what we did against Cal when we let Kevin Riley getting in rhythm early. If we let Barkely get in same kind of rhythm early on like we allowed Riley to get in, it might be a long night at the Mosoleum.

Keep an eye out on the injury report for the Trojans this week. Damien Williams has been nursing an ankle injury. He didn't play against Stanford and per Gary Klein of the LAT he is scheduled to do some "running" today. He is obviously a huge weapon for them adding more balance to the explosive threats out of the backfield.

There wasn't much news coming out of Spauling yesterday. Sounds like the coaches (very prudently) are keeping a very low profile. So the reporters were resorted to asking boring questions about whether Brehaut is going to see any more action and latest of Hester's injury status. If you care about reading them you can check out the beat reports here and here. I am honestly not all that worried about Brehaut. His situation will work out. I know his red shirt season got burned this year. I am honestly not all that worried about it and we have another great QB recruit coming in next year. Given how CRN has handle situations such as Hasiak, kept Craft completely committed to the program, I have no doubt he and Chow will sit down with Brehaut to figure out the best course for his development (which might include the option of redshirting his sophomore or junior season).

Going back to Kevin Prince, I am excited for him on Saturday. I think Saturday presents a big opportunity for him. While he has gained some obvious confidence in his throws downfield, I think he has also added another dimension to his game in terms of sharpening his pocket presence. His decisions in terms of when to throw away the ball or when to take off for a scramble has been great. That 68 yard run against Washington State didn't look like all that much of an aberration given how he picked two huge first downs with his feet against a defense like ASU. It will be fun to see what kind of package Chow schemes up for him on Saturday.

With that, I'd love to hear your early thoughts on Saturday in terms of game planning and strategery. What do you think we should be looking for? Let's use this thread to get that discussion going this Monday. Of course if you have detailed thought you want to throw up put them in FanPost. It is going to be a loooooong week to wait for this kickoff. Might as well enjoy it.

GO BRUINS.

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