Can the Bruin defense step up against Tedford's well balanced Bears?
As always looking forward to this week's BN podcast with Ryan and 03rdn09, and find out what thet have to say about this weekend's game against the Bears. It will be very interested to hear how the guys at California Golden Blogs are feeling about the matchup as well. I always find these podcasts extremely interesting because it really helps you get ready for the weekend's game. So if you don't do it already, you should be listening to it live or catching up with it later because it will help you not just enjoy (well in UCLA's cases watching the games with stomach tied in knots) your Saturdays but also keep the matters related to our program in contest.
Now to get you guys ready for tonight's podcast (starting at 7 pm PST), thought I package together some stats for this weekend's game and then attempt to list the factors that would be helpful for our Bruins. Over last couple of days I have been jotting down statlines that stuck out to me while reading about the Bears and our Bruins. So I will try to group them in couple of categories and then list the factors that stick out to be as biggies at this point of time.
Let's review the stats/numbers with sad face. Unfortunately there are lot of them:
- California has won three of the last four meetings overall and the last five contests played in Memorial Stadium.
- Our last victory over Cal in the Bay Area was a 28-16 win during the 1998 season when we were ranked number 2 in the country.
- During our last trip to Strawberry Canyon (and CRN's first as the HC), the Bears won 41-20. The game was close until the 4th when Bears broke it lose with 24 points. The Bears rushed for 232 yards in the contest and held the Bruins to 16 on the ground.
- The Bruin secondary has only 1 interception (Rahim Moore v. Houston) this season, while Bears' QB Kevin Riley has never thrown a pick against UCLA.
- Shane Vereen during his career has rushed for 253 yards in 31 carries averaging 8.16 yds per attempt against Walker/Bullough led Bruin defense.
- California ranks 12th in the nation in turnover margin (taking the ball away 9 times while giving it up 5 times). Bruins are 85th (11 takeaways, 14 giveaways through 5 games).
- California ranks 45th in nation converting 42.86% of its 3rd down. UCLA defense is ranked 111th in the nation allowing its opponents to convert 49.37% of the time.
- California's defense ranks 15th in the nation and second in the Pac-10.
- Cal has a superstud freshman receiver in Keenan Allan (who should be healthy for this game after being nagged by injuries earlier in the season), however, they also have Jr. Marvin Jones, who hooked up Kevin Riley for 2 TD scores, hurting Bullough's secondary for 4 catches and 89 yards along the way last year at the Rose Bowl. Remember we had ATV back then.
Stats/numbers with happy face:
- UCLA's rushing offense ranks 10th in the nation and 2nd in the conference (hey, you all knew that but just trying to pad up the happy face category just a bit!)
- UCLA has rushed for at least 250 yards in three straight games. The last time that happened was in 1993 against Stanford (259), San Diego State (269) and BYU (318). Yes, Bob Palcic was also the OL coach for UCLA at the time (please don't let him leave again CRN).
- Dating back to 1990, UCLA is 34-1 when it rushes for at least 250 yards in a game and has won 18 in a row.
- UCLA defense is tied for 21st in the nation with 14 sacks in our first 5 games. Cal OL though has only allowed 1 sack per game through their first 4 games.
- Kevin Prince recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career against the Bears last year at the Rose Bowl (21-41--311 yds) [but note the Bears have a new DC this season].
- Jahvid Best is not going to be around!
Stats compiled from here and here. It's a little hard to get a read on this year's Bears team because of the wild statistical fluctuations in their 4 games which includes the much talked about loss against Nevada but also includes an extremely impressive (IMO) win over the Colorado Buffaloes (which just pulled out a narrow win over a hard luck SEC team in Georgia) and a blow out win against UCDavis.
Still the stats above are something to think about. It seems for us to have a shot on Saturday the following factors will need to play out:
- Ball control: We are going to have to control time of possession like we did against Houston and Texas. If we can grind it out with our running game with good game management from Kevin Prince, we could possibly have a fresh defense getting after it against Riley and co.
- Turnovers: It killed us against Washington State. The failed 4t down conversion attempt when Chow tried to get cute and the Jet Ski fumbled totally turned the momentum of that game. Can't afford that, specially on the road where turnovers killed us during our last trip thanks to a bucket load of picks from the other Kevin (Craft).
- Rattling Riley: If we let Riley to get comfortable and pick us apart all day, it is going to be a long day. Let's pray that Akeem Ayers is feeling healthy and ready to go. If we cannot generate pressure with Akeem and our retooled front-4, it is going to get ugly.
- Limiting big play: Cal has killed us with big plays after big plays over the years. We are going to have to show the same kind of intensity and fundamentals in tackling we showed in Austin. Moreover, we will have to be disciplined as a football team eliminating stupid penalties (which often serve as TOs).
Of course feel free to point out other details that you think could be crucial in the comment threads. As always if you want to zero in on issues that need wider discussion (or merits reflection well beyond 75-100 words), please put them up in Fanpost section. Collectively that will help everyone in this community to prepare for Saturday.