So we will know sometime today about the status of Saturday's game due to fire related conditions around Pasadena. I still think the officials should wait at least one more day till making their final decision since officials have made it clear that the game will not be moved to another stadium (See LA Times report). If the officials are not going to move the game to another stadium, I don't think logistics should be that big of an issue.
I think the rescheduling the game will put the team in a tough situation considering it will mean that Kevin Prince, a completely revamped OL (featuring 3 players making their first starts in UCLA uniforms), and all those young guys at skill positions will start the season against Volunteers and 104,000+ screaming fans in Knoxville (not good). So to me at least, it would have made a lot more sense if they waited till tomorrow to make the decision. Anyway, guess we will know about the decision sometime today.
If you want to keep monitoring online the general air quality in Southland, here is the AQMD website (HT Section2Rocks in Bruinzone, via Rico Bruin in BruinGold). The air quality has been improving, although the Pasadena is still marked "unhealthy for sensitive groups." Here is to hoping for the best and praying the fire situation comes under control soon.
The Bruins have pored over various game tapes, even old film from new SDSU coordinators Al Borges and Rocky Long's days at UCLA.
"Last year it was like this against Washington State," said Price, referring to second-year Cougars head coach Paul Wuff. "We looked all over for film. It's the same now. Everybody's used to it. And we have no school, so we can watch a lot more film."
Obviously there is more to just simply watching films. From Jon Gold in the Daily News:
UCLA defensive end Korey Bosworth said the challenge is in viewing with a purpose.
"The balance comes in just recognizing what you're looking at," Bosworth said. If you're looking at SDSU personnel, that's what you're looking at. If you're watching the Ball States or old UCLA films, you worry about the schemes. It's all about knowing what you're watching."
On the other side, the San Diego State players sound confident. Per Kevin Gemmell in the San Diego Union Tribune, the Aztecs' OL has "had a technique overhaul, going from pass blockers to maulers." Guess that goes along with Brady Hoke's philosophy of playing rough and tumble Big-10, physical brand of power game. Their junior cetner Trask Iosefa is sounding comfortable about handling Brian Price:
"He's all over the backfield. But I think we'll be able to block him with our two guards. They'll do a good job."
Nelson (senior right tackle Peter Nelson) said he isn't concerned with the inexperience on the left side.
"Football is football," he said. "They still have experience playing the game. There is a lack of experience, but I think our coaches have done a good job coaching us up and we'll be prepared and we'll work hard."
Speaking of working hard Norm Chow has been going over Rocky Long's 3-3-5 scheme. More on that chaos scheme after the jump.
So here is what Chow said about preparing for the 3-3-5:
"I think that's what he (Rocky Long) knows and what he does best. He has to do it. You wouldn't coach something you didn't know best. We've been studying it for the last two weeks now."
Well Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union Tribune did a great write up on Coach Long's 3-3-5 in a report entitled "Chaos Theory," in which he went over the concept and the genesis of this defensive scheme (dating back to Long's days as an assistant at Oregon State). The defense comes with high rewards (of making big plays) and risks:
Mistakes happen when risks are taken so often. Blitzing is risky. And Long's defense blitzes 80 percent of the time, compared to maybe 20 or 30 percent for more conventional defenses. The idea is to send one or more defenders into the offensive backfield to break up a play before it starts. But if the offense sees it coming or reads it right, it can adjust by flipping the ball away or scooting past the blitzing defender for a big play downfield. By the time the blitzing defenders realize it, the ballcarrier has blown past them.
"It's like Stonewall Jackson said: I don't think they take counsel of their fears," Leach (Mike Leach) said. "They're willing to stick their neck out because it can have a big payoff. The risk is calculated."
To an opposing offense, Long's 3-3-5 can look chaotic: constant movement, players lined up in unconventional spots, blitzes coming from almost anywhere.
If there's a weakness to Long's defense, it might be a quarterback who's studied it well enough to know what might be coming. In that case, the quarterback has to be able to frequently change the play at the line of scrimmage based on those educated hunches.
Some might also surmise that the 3-3-5 should be disadvantaged against the run because it doesn't have the size up front. Not true (see Long's record above). Speed can make up for it, if the players can tackle.
"If they can't tackle it really doesn't make any difference where you line them up," Dunn said. "The first things you have to do is get players who can tackle."
It will come down to Kevin Prince and the UCLA offense being very patient on Saturday (which is why this will be a great test as a first game of the season). Ted Miller from the WWL writes:
Long's funky defense will be eager to make life difficult for redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince, who hasn't played in a football game in two years.
"I believe he is going to have a great freshman year," Neuheisel said.
Toss in freshman tailback Johnathan Franklin and sophomore receiver Taylor Embree and you have a really young offense.
That suggests that the Bruins, inevitably, will be confused at times and will blow assignments.
How many they blow -- and how well they bounce back from those mistakes -- might provide a good measuring stick for what we can expect from a UCLA offense that is trying to rehabilitate itself after a horrendous 2008 performance.
In other words we will need to be patient. It is going to be incredibly important for all of our guys to stay with their assignments. Sure the Aztecs will be flying around but that also means there should be number of instances when they will be over commit opening up opportunities for huge plays. Meanwhile, at the same time we will have to play our game and just keep pounding straight at them. If we can keep coming at them relentlessly gaining 4-6 yards per down and get a rhtyhm going, I think the offense will find its footing.
I am excited to see how Prince and our offense handles themselves on Saturday.