Spaulding Roundup: UCLA-U$C* = "Not That Big A Deal" For Trojan Safety Taylor Mays

So it sounds like the Beat $C* bonfire (despite the poorly planned timing) turned out all right. Some good comments on the experience here, here and here. If you were there and took pictures and video, would love to see via fanposts or fanshots. It will get rest of us - who are away from LA -  even more jacked up for Saturday.

Apparently all of this emotion and build up around this game don't mean all that much for  marquee defensive player from cross town Mr. Taylor Mays. Found it in the Trojan beat report in today's LA Times (emphasis added):

Mays said the Trojans were "where we need to be" as they resumed practice. This will be Mays' fourth USC-UCLA game, but the Seattle native and son of a former Washington lineman remains more familiar with the Washington-Washington State rivalry.

"I didn't grow up a fan of USC or UCLA so it's not that big a deal to me. I know more about the Apple Cup," he said.

Well then. Not sure what to say in response to Mr. Mays. Apparently even though this game or the history around is "not that big a deal" to Mr. Mays, per the LAT report he might have "extra motivation" this weekend because he wasn't name as one of the finalist for the Thorpe Award, presented annually to college football's top defensive back. Apparently just because someone is a superstar from Chetey's program, it automatically entitles them to get slotted as one of the finalists for prestigious post-season awards.

Well we have no doubt Mays and his team-mates are going to come out (head) hunting on Saturday. They are going to come out breathing fire despite the typical Trojan bites they are serving up in the press this game week. Chetey knows that he cannot afford to lose this game because if he chokes on Saturday ... well the picture will not be pretty (plus who knows those NCAA "inspectors" enjoying the campus cafetaria in South Central might just feel a tad bit emboldended if their beloved Trojans look a little more vulnerable). So yeah, they are going to be in a desperate state of mind. As for our guys, our seniors know how special this game can be (remembering 13-9) and they are channeling in different approaches to get the young pups ready for hopefully what will be the game of their lives. More on the mindset of our seniors and our head coach after the jump.

Chane Moline remembers what it felt like when he was at the Rose Bowl in 2006:

"I thought I knew how huge it was, then I played at the Rose Bowl that day," Moline said. "That was an eye-opening experience."

Reggie Carter had his special moments from the waning moments of the game:

"That was probably the first time I've cried because I was happy," Carter said. "It was a minute left, we got the pick and the game wasn't over yet and we're at the game crying. I couldn't stop. I'm thinking, `It's not over yet,' then once that clock set zero, it was unbelievable. I started to breathe again."

Most importantly ATV recalls what it took for the Bruins to actually win that game:

We didn't turn the ball over, we played sound defense, they went for it a couple times and we came up with big stops," Verner recalls. "As a whole, we played smart. We did enough to win that game."

Bruins will have to replicate that formual again this Saturday if they want to compete and pull out a huge upset (which I believe they are capable of). As discussed yesterday we will need our defensive guys to stiffen up early. We can't be in the feeling out mode we have been in to start games all season. I really hope Chuck Bullough instead of waiting to adjust against the Trojan offense, will come out and attack early with throwing different looks from our base defense.

We can't allow Barkely to get comfortable. Just can't do that. I'd also like to continue to see us bringing Akeem around the edge and perhaps do the same with Price at the end as well, so that we can contain McKnight explosions to the outside. Also, speaking of containing Trojan weapons, Klein (from the LAT) has the following update on Trojan receiver Damien Williams:

Receiver Damian Williams tested his injured right ankle with some light jogging, but remains doubtful for UCLA.

Williams, who sat out against Stanford, spent the weekend watching TV, icing his ankle and stretching during commercials. He said he felt pain Monday, "but it wasn't, like, excruciating."

"I don't want to get my hopes up and not play," said Williams, USC's leading receiver and punt returner. "I'd rather say I'm not playing and then play. . . . You never know."

Coach Pete Carroll wants to believe that Williams will be on the field against the Bruins. The junior played through a hamstring strain against Oregon and Arizona State before suffering a high ankle sprain against the Sun Devils.

"He's the kind of guy that will find a way," Carroll said, comparing Williams to NFL veterans. "It takes experience and a kind of wherewithal to realize you don't have to be 100% to play. Damian's a little bit like that."

So to translate Chetey's sweet talk - Damien is going to play. He will be in there (even if he is not feeling healthy). Petey wants him in because after all it's a must win game for Pom Pom.

Meanwhile, CRN sounds pretty relaxed heading into Saturday. He knows he has already met the baseline expectations for this season that will help him to close out on a strong on the recruiting trail. He also knows he and his team doesn't have much to lose this Saturday:

"You talk about signature wins after you have them. Those are things you go back to," he said. "I don't think you ever talk about that on the front side. You're working your tail off to do your best every game. Who knows what will happen?

"All I know is we're going to play our best. We're going to prepare our best. Hopefully, it will be good enough. If it's not, we'll get ready the next chance. Some other game will have to be the signature win."

Sounds about right. An upset in this game will of course will more than just a rocket boost for the UCLA football program. It will effectively turn the table on recruiting dynamic for a while. Yet the heat is really on Southern Cal because if they cannot hold serve in this game after the kind of season they have had ... well as I said we will leave the Trojies to imagine those consequences.

Lastly, just in case there was any doubt, here is the report from Jon Gold on UCLA wearing its home uniforms this weekend:

UCLA will wear its home jerseys at the Coliseum on Saturday, part of an agreement USC head coach Pete Carroll made before last season's game that led to a rule change by the NCAA.

Last season, the Trojans wore their cardinal and gold jerseys in the Rose Bowl and were penalized with one stripped time out, while Neuheisel quickly evened the score by calling a timeout of his own.

After the season, the NCAA decided to lift the rule that required visiting teams to wear white, making it a game-by-game decision by individual conferences.

Carter, though, remains color-blind.

"Cardinal, blue, red orange, I don't care what I'm wearing," Carter said with a smile. "It's great to be wearing our home jerseys. But if we wear yellow jerseys, I'd be OK as long as I could hit somebody."

Gotta love Reggie's passion. It is going to be something special watching the UCLA play in that setting in Bruin blue. Then again apparently all of this "not that big a deal" for Mr. Taylor Mays.


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