I think we have established pretty well at this point that the Bruins do not have a prayer against the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night. It has gotten so bad for UCLA that the coaches have been reduced to cherry picking posts from message boards to fire up our Bruins:
[Bruins are] itching to get on the field, especially after the UCLA coaching staff displayed a sampling of some message board chatter the past few days.
"People were talking bad about us," Moore said. "Saying stuff like the score was going to be 59-10, and some of our fans were happy we didn't play this weekend because we would have lost to anyone.
Sorry Rahim. Love you man, but we doubt that trick is going to work. You are going to get destroyed on Thursday night.
No offense to Rahim Moore and all our other guys (and I find them all of them generally to be really likable kids who are easy to root for), if that is what takes to get them all fired up, we have issues. I mean things are so bleak in the short term (at least for this game week) that I don't think it is necessary to do our customary dread thread that worked well for two out of our last three games.
Nothing we are going to do in the mojo department is going to help our Bruins. They are going to get slaughtered. I don't blame Oregon fans sounding supremely confident and looking ahead to Southern Cal and other games on their schedule. That said I do want to share some nuggets (only for those who want to engage in deluded fantasy) heading into Thursday night after the jump.
03rdn9 have been breaking down Oregon's amazing offense all through this week. He had already broken down the Duck offense in couple of posts here and here. We are all waiting to see if he can provide any answers for our Bruin defense in his upcoming post where he is going to break down UCLA's defense's chances against Chip Kelly's well oiled machine (gulp).
Before he does that though I think it is interesting to take a look how UCLA defense has performed against the Ducks in last couple of years:
- Last year the Bruins lost a heart breaker against the Ducks at the Rose Bowl. The final score was 10-24 in favor of the Ducks. Here is the box score. Of course the necessary caveat in analyzing this game is that the Ducks came in without Jeremiah Masoli and were really banged up. They had LaMichael James, who rushed for 152 yards in 20 carries. Still the score of the game doesn't indicate how close it really was. The UCLA defense had shut down the Ducks offense in the first half and if not for a feeble goal line offense, the Bruins would have been up a score of 10-0 at the half. Then Kenjon Barner (who might not be available this Thursday night) returned the opening kickoff in the second half for 100 yards, and the game completely got away from the Bruins. The Ducks had 303 yards of total offense and converted 4 of 14 3rd down conversions.
- Two years ago Bruin - during their last Autzen trip - Bruins (2-3) went in with Kevin Craft against a decent Ducks (4-2) team with Masoli at QB. The final score was 24-31 in favor the Ducks but it was also a dogfight with the Bruin closing in within 7 at the end of 3rd quarter (14-21). Here is the box score. Oregon piled up 323 yards of rushing (170 from Masol himself), however, the Bruin defense after a slow start (remember this was a Dewayne Walker coached D), held the Oregon offense in check limiting them to a total of 365 yards. The Ducks converted 2 of their 13 3rd down opportunities. I realize the 3rd down conversion stat. is a little deceptive given the amount of big plays they ran up on the Bruins, still it is pretty interesting to ponder given what transpired the following year at the Rose Bowl.
The common theme at both game was turnover/penalty issues for the Bruins. In 2008 after the Bruins had closed it within 7 and had the ball in 4th with a chance to tie it up, Craft threw a pick, which the Ducks converted to 3 points, taking back the momentum in that game. Last year after getting shell shocked by that Barner kickoff return, Kevin Prince promptly threw a pick 6 to Talmadge Jackson III, essentially changing the momentum of the entire game for good.
Those are interesting numbers indeed. However, before anyone gets their hope high here based on those glimmers, note there are couple - well actually three - huge pieces missing in this year's Bruin defense. We don't have Brian Price. We don't have ATV (who is already terrorizing NFL QBs). Plus we don't have Datone Jones who, two years ago had somewhat of a breakout game in Eugene.
That said, if the Bruin defense comes out and play disciplined football, which is to stay within their assignments, and do their best to keep LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, Jeff Maehl, David Paulson, D.J. Davis in contained space, they might have a shot at not getting blown out. Of course, that all sounds nice in theory, but it would also help if the Bruin offense with basically a brand new QB can help out the defense with ball control and almost mistake free football. The chance of all that happening is worse than this:
As always, I am more than happy to eat crow but I am not going to hold my breath waiting for some fantasy to come into fruition.