Well, if you haven't gotten all the anxiety and dread around tomorrow's game out of your system, there is still time. This "cleansing" thread is still up on the home page. You can go over there and kind of let it all out. In the meantime, let's see what Coach Rick Neuheisel had to say following the last practice of this game week.
While many of us are picturing various nightmarish reasons (spanning from the ones based on reality to horrible memories to just paranoid fantasies - and it's all fine with us) about what Texas is going to do with UCLA, Neuheisel talked about dealing with circumstances as they unfold in Austin:
Neuheisel had couple of interesting reflections there. On one end of the spectrum, he talked about his guys playing as hard they can for first three quarters and then taking their shots in the fourth. I found that a little bit disconcerting because that seem a bit too conservative for my taste (what's the word again? Donahuesque).
Yet, CRN also explicitly mentioned about how "hope isn't a strategy" and that the Bruins are not going to get anywhere if they just hope to hang around the Long Horns. It will be all about energy and intensity from the get go. More after the jump.
Bruins will also need to focus:
Neuheisel said the experience of going to Kansas State in Week 1 should help in dealing with this trip to a hostile environment at Texas. Dropped passes, procedure penalties and turnovers were major problems for the Bruins in their only other road game this season. "Those are the kinds of things you can't do on the road," he said. "It gets the crowd going and becomes kind of like a tidal wave. You just have to be able to weather that."
Speaking of the weather, it could be a factor tomorrow. It is supposed to be hot and humid in Austin tomorrow afternoon with a chance of rain and thunderstorm (see weather.com). If it rains during the game or drizzles enough to create wet conditions, we will have to keep an eye on how the Bruins handle the ball. As everyone knows by now, we have had "issues" with that in our first three games. From Jon Gold in the Daily News:
[Bruins] have fumbled eight times this season and lost five of those. That's an average of nearly three fumbles per game.
With a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday, UCLA must be even more mindful of ball security.
"We'll just do the very best we can," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said Thursday. "We obviously don't get a lot of experience with that here. We have handled the football a lot. The question was asked about our fumbles early in the week: were they a product of the new offense? (That's) not really the case. It's not tucking it away and having it stripped away by good tacklers. Regardless of the conditions and the weather, we have to do a great job of taking care of the football."
The issue hasn't been just with Malcom Jones, we have had Kevin Prince having same problems as well (against both Kansas State and Stanford). Seems like it will be a matter of sticking with fundamentals and concentration. Kind of goes back to all the little things we are so used to dreading about as UCLA fans.
Speaking of focus and fundamentals Josh Smith knows what he needs to do to get more reps on the field:
[N]euheisel said: "We want to make sure Josh is up to speed mentally with knowing all the assignments. Until we're dead-set sure that he knows what he's doing, it's hard to have the confidence to put him in there."
Smith admitted that, "I'm a little bit behind," but the mental part of returning punts is pretty simple: catch and run in the direction of the blocking.
Sounds simple. Yet that didn't stop Chris Foster from the LA Times to concern troll and look for conflict and tension when none of it exist in this specific situation.
In addition to being focused and locked, Bruins will need to get physical. Especially our WRs will have to turn up their intensity to another level:
"They're more physical than anyone we've played so far," said UCLA receiver Nelson Rosario. "They're very fast. They rely a lot on their speed, but also want to be physical. It's going to be a big challenge going against them."
The Longhorns have faced three spread offenses in Rice, Wyoming and Texas Tech so far this season, but have given up only 162 yards a game through the air. Texas Tech, a perennial leader in passing offense, averaged 347.5 yard passing in its first two games, but had only 158 against Texas last week -- in large part because of Williams, Brown and Brown.
"They have everything you would expect from top-ranked defensive backs," UCLA receiver Ricky Marvray said. "They stick to you and they like to put their helmets on you."
So will Rosario, Embree, Marvray et al. come out and remind us about JJ, Kevin Jordan, Kevin Lachappelle and Scottie Miller or are they going to turn out with another game giving us night mares of Brian Poli Dixon and the other non-descript WRs we have gotten used to in last 10 years? It's a huge game for them. The entire Bruin Nation (not just us) have called them out all week.
Lastly, speaking of getting called out, someone should ensure this video is played on Kevin Prince's laptop. A lady from OrangeBloods.com / ESPNAustin - Taylor Gaspar - says she can throw better than Prince in this "analysis":
She also doesn't have much respect for the UCLA offense saying Texas defense will basically destroy the Bruins. She and her buddy are essentially looking forward to the Sooners (just 9 days away as they made sure to let us know) with UCLA being a nice "tune up" on Saturday.
Honestly, after first three games (despite the victory over an over-rated Houston team) we don't have a lot of datapoints to throw back at that kind of confidence. We have a shot but it is contingent upon lot of IFs. It will be interesting to see how the Bruins respond tomorrow.