Guess we will have to go to football related news feel good about UCLA athletics this am. My how things have changed in just two years (although we still have a long way to go where we need to be with our football program). Anyway we have little more than 24 hours left till the biggest game of the season (it is going to be a looooong day tomorrow to wait for that 7:00 pm PST kickoff).
Earlier this am ucla13_usc9 posted a pretty cool picture of the seniors being carried off Spaulding for their last practice. Looking at the picture you can kind of get the sense how close and tight this team has become over the year. I sensed that especially in these last few closing games. When Donald Butler hit Kevin Prince with that nasty shot during the first half against Washington, you will see how Chane Moline when after Butler with some wicked hits later in the game. It left Butler a little shaken and whining to the refs. Same thing happened during the last game too when Vontaze Burfict was trying get in his cheap shots against Prince. Again, it was Moline coming in the following plays and laying an extra pop on Burfict. Moline being the savvy senior he is (Paulsen should take note!) can get his shots in within the flow of the game.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is, it has been fun watching scrap and fight together all season. They have had their tough moments especially during that 5 game losing skid. However, the way they have battled through it has been refreshing to watch and now I am getting really anxious to see how they finish up the final chapter of this fun season (with hopefully a bowl game in December).
While football is a team game, there are few actors tomorrow, who have the potential to play memorable roles in our home blue. As we talk about final chapter, perhaps it will be Brian Price, leaving Westwood with a special. The LAT's Chris Foster probably scanned around BN and read hicalliber's post to get the idea for his story about this possibly being Price's last regular season game in Westwood. We will know the facts (about Price moving on to the NFL) soon enough. For now we are hoping he can continue being on the same tear he has been on in our last three games:
"The way to look at it is it's a team sport," Price said. "If I'm taking up two guys, somebody else is not getting blocked and they will make the play."
But Price has found ways to beat the double teams.
"You drop to one knee and one of the guys will leave you," Price said. "You get up and make the play. Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I don't."
However he goes about the job, his play has exceeded his expectations. Price has 8.5 tackles for a loss in the last three games, all UCLA victories
"It's a team sport, so you want a better record," Price said. "We're turning that around. My own personal goals, I'm doing more than I thought I would do this year. I didn't think I'd get 20 tackles for a loss. I was just hoping for two or three more than last year."
Of course, Price would love to have more.
"I'd like about 10 on Saturday," he said.
I am sure the Trojans will have something extra planned for the big guy. It will be up to his team-mates to take advantage of the extra attention he will get, Also, it will be up to Bullough and his staff to mix in schemes that might have Price move around and also bring pressure from different directions. We will need our guys flying around all over the Mosoleum. More on that point after the jump.
Bullough talked to Jon Gold about his team having fun with flying around all over the field:
"We're playing and we're having fun out there," Bullough said. "Guys are flying around, flying to the ball. We've always done that. But they're realizing it's getting close to the end, and they really like each other. They know to keep playing, they have to have fun."
But he also mentioned the need for customizing game plans depending on the opponent (which is obvious of course);
"Every game is different, every game is a different scenario," UCLA defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said. "How the offense is doing, how the defense is doing. You can't really go into one game and say we need to put all three games together into one. Each game is its own separate deal."
I don't believe Bullough needs to have his team blitzing Barkley in every play. Yet when we write about the need to disrupt this rhythm, we are talking about making sure we dont' get him comfortable with our same base look early on. Nothing is more important to an young quarterback than getting in rhythm and getting confidence early. I just think while Bullough might not need to bring pressure in every down, he will need to bring it early on (in not so obvious situations) to give Barkley something to think about for rest of the game. Oh and our guys need to get Barkley's jersey dirty. Apparently there is a 40 percent chance of rain on Saturday (in LA!). If that is the case, I hope Barkley's jersey is lot muddier than the one belonging to Kevin Prince.
And, speaking of Kevin Prince, how about this? The dude apparently has been sporting a "mohawk" during practice this week (what's up with these kids?). He also sounds pretty calm heading into Saturday:
If UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince is feeling the pressure of playing in his first UCLA-USC showdown, it's not showing.
The redshirt freshman arrived at practice on Tuesday sporting a new hairstyle – a Mohawk – and took the same business-as-usual approach that he's been showing since the start of fall camp.
It stands to reason. Prince has played this rivalry over and over in his head, since he used to attend UCLA games as a season-ticket holder. Now it's just a matter of going out there and living the dream.
"It's a unique opportunity," he said of his current position. "Not too many guys get to play quarterback for UCLA and get to play SC, especially under the circumstances where it's pretty much a must-win for us and they're probably thinking it's a must-win for them too.
"It's going to be a crazy game and we're just preparing for it like any other game."
Sounds like CRN and Chow have coached up the kid pretty good in terms of getting out the right bites. Without diminishing the reverence of this football game (unlike Taylor Mays), he is treating it like any other game week. Now let's hope he can execute the game plan the same way he did against defenses such as Tennessee and Arizona State.
Again, it is going to be a looong way till 7 pm tomorrow night.