Let's start with a very quick housekeeping note again. As noted last night things look a little different here on BN (and all around SBN) starting this am. Basically what you are seeing today is SBN's tech gurus doing a little "visual refresh" of our communities, which includes a refresh of the current visual design across all blogs. It's part of SBN's unending efforts to make posts more readable and push text higher above the fold, and a first step in a project to improve load time. I think you guys will enjoy BN's cleaner look. Definitely would love to hear what you guys think about this new tweaks. Chime in the fanshot thread posted last night or here in this comment thread.
The timing on this "visiaul refresh" of BN works out well because now I can segway into the topic of the much anticipated throwback jerseys UCLA is going to bust out this Saturday. From the official site:
THROWBACK JERSEYS -- For Saturday's Homecoming Game against the Huskies, the Bruins will wear "throwback" jerseys similar to the UCLA jerseys worn in 1967, when Gary Beban won the Heisman Trophy. The Bruins will also wear gold helmets without the UCLA logo and black shoes in the style of the 1967 team. Facsimilie jerseys with Beban's No. 16, are on sale at the UCLA Store and online.
I am assuming some of you have already stocked up on those number 16s. Moving on to the game notes Bob Condotta from the Seattle Times posted another update on Jake Locker. It looks like as of right now Locker is a go:
Jake Locker basically split the reps at QB with Ronnie Fouch --- appeared to be about the normal division --- working with the No. 1 offense. Frankly, if you didn't know Locker was hurt you wouldn't have known he was hurt from watching this workout. The caveats to that are that it was a no-contact practice --- the team was in just helmets and shoulder pads and sweats/shorts --- and he didn't do any real running, just throwing and handing off.
But considering this is Monday, seemed like the kind of start to the week for a guy who will play on Saturday, though as noted earlier, some of this is also seeing how his leg reacts each day to work the day before. Keith Price worked with the scout team as Locker and Fouch handled all the duties with the main offense, as is the norm.
While the Bruin defense no doubt will work on their game prep with Locker on their minds, as Jon Gold notes they will also have to work on improving themselves:
Neuheisel realizes, though, the Bruins need to focus on improving themselves this week, instead of looking just at Locker. For the fifth consecutive week - all losses - the UCLA defense often found itself out of position and scrambling to right its wrongs, but to no avail.
"We've played some pretty darn good offenses, but yes we have to play better on defense," Neuheisel said. "I don't know that you can point at one thing. Assignments, tackling, just being where we need to be and making plays when they're there to be made."
The Bruins have faced a tough slate of opponents, attempting to shut down one star after the next.
Most have been in the running game though, where UCLA has failed to contain Stanford's Toby Gerhart, Oregon's LaMichael James, Cal's Jahvid Best and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers. But what concerns Neuheisel has been the failure to shut down opportunistic pass offenses, who have taken advantage of freshman cornerback Sheldon Price's inexperience and slight build.
"Until we stop them, we're going to have to face the facts there," Neuheisel said. "Sheldon's going to have to continue to improve and we'll have to try to create competition there. We're going to play the guy who plays the best in practice. We're not down on Sheldon, he's a young player trying to help the team and he's playing hard. ... But we certainly understand we have to play better and not give up the easy yards."
So this gives me an opportunity to ask a question I haven't really zeroed in on enough the last few weeks (or especially since the Cal game). Does anyone have an idea re. why our CBs given so much cushion to opposing WRs? Sometimes when I am watching out defense on television I can't even see our corners. They are off the screen and playing almost 7-8 yards off the opposing receiver. This is not happening just with Sheldon Price. This has been happening even with ATV (who was giving up chunks of yardage in the Cal game). I would love to hear a cogent explanation for this tactic because it is just another one of those attributes that makes Bullough's defense appear very vanilla and always seem to keep them off balance. I don't think they are going to be able to get away by doing the same against Washington. Jake Locker -hurt or not - will take advantage of any open spaces he can find to run through and make huge plays. More after the jump.Speaking of cornerbacks Aaron Hester will probably not be available this week:
Cornerback Aaron Hester reinjured his right leg Saturday, though not as bad as when he cracked his fibula in the season opener. X-rays did not reveal any major damage.
Neuheisel was unsure Monday if Hester will play Saturday.
Hester returned from the initial injury Saturday at Oregon State but saw limited action. His continued absence would hurt the secondary because opposing teams have been able to take advantage of freshman Sheldon Price.
With Hester out, Price and Courtney Viney will continue to battle it out for the remaining cornerback spot.
This really explains why coaches like Carnell Lake were beinge extra cautious with putting Hester back in. Of course that didn't stop the local beat writers to breathlessly write up on Hester's frustration of not being able to come back early enough baseleslly playing up the angle of a player getting upset with coaches. It looks like all along the coaches were doing the exact right thing by taking their time on Hester. I hope they continue to do the same although I'd like to see a little bit more of Viney in the game.
Lastly, Nelson Rosario is excited after last weekend (the kid was retweeting Tele's video post over the weekend celebrating his first college TD). More importantly he also knows he needs to focus so that he can also be consistent and catch the easy balls in addition to making those spectacular plays (which he has done multiple times this year):
Rosario, 6 feet 5 and 211 pounds, possesses tremendous leaping ability and deceptive speed.
However, there are times his concentration seems to lag, such as during the California game when he dropped a sure touchdown pass.
"There is no reason for that," Rosario said. "It's all about focus. I tell myself, 'Make sure you catch the ball, then run.'"
After the Cal game, quarterback Kevin Prince went to Rosario and told him the ball was still coming his way.
"It brings your confidence up to know that he trusts you, knowing the ball could come your way any time," Rosario said.
Hope it comes his way early and often during this throwback Saturday.