Will the Joy Stick finally get the chance to break loose against Washington State?
It's Wednesday, which means we're once again halfway to the weekend and another game for our UCLA Bruins, with this weekend's opponent, being Paul Wulff's Washington State Cougars. Rick will head back to the Rose Bowl, facing an improved Cougars squad in a must-win game if he is to maintain any hope of salvaging this season and meeting the reasonable expectations of the entire Bruin Nation.
With that, let's turn to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with football, Washington State announced earlier this week that their normal starting QB, Jeff Tuel, was cleared to return to full practice this week and would likely be available this Saturday against the Bruins. Paul Wulff now finds himself with not one, but two capable quarterbacks for Saturday's matchup, with last season's regular starter Tuel in reserve and fill-in starting QB Lobbestael having an out-of-his-mind season (Lobbestael enters this upcoming game ranked #6 in the nation in passing yards per game).
- Despite Tuel's return, Wulff is going to stick with Lobbestael, especially given his blistering form (he's averaging over 330 yards per game) and because Tuel is still in need of getting practice reps, and re-familiarizing himself with football. Gee, what a novel concept: not playing a QB when they're injured and less effective than their back-up. In short, Lobbestael will come to the Rose Bowl with a hot head, facing a beat up Bruin secondary that will need to put it together to prevent getting embarrassed for another weekend.
- After having his talent excuse eviscerated on BN, Rick has changed his tune, now saying that his football team has all the pieces for a winning program, saying that UCLA "do[esn't] need anything else from the outside" and once again, promises that "we're going to turn the corner." We've been hearing that for a while Rick and the results speak for themselves. But at least Rick finally sees things the way BN does: UCLA has the talent to be a winning team and all the pieces are in place. We just need something resembling coaching and UCLA would be set.
- Turning to those human interest type stories, the L.A. Times, in its never-ending quest for hard-hitting journalism, has a profile piece on the defensive end that has yet to show up this season: Datone Jones. While Jones is having a very sub-par season, by his standards (which leads me to think that he's either playing hurt or the coaches are fundamentally using him wrong somehow), it is great to see a good kid like Datone make it through all that he's endured to make it to Westwood.
- The Seattle Times has an interesting little piece on whether the Pac-12 is becoming second-fiddle on the national football scene, given how weak most of the teams (with the exception of Oregon and Stanford) have looked this season. The article includes some choice quotes from Neuheisel re: ESPN and the way they pick and choose which programs get the big exposure.
- Flipping over to hoops, UCLA big man target Tony Parker returned to Atlanta to find a special guest waiting for him: Coach K. The Duke head coach is considered one of the favorites to bringing Parker around to Durham and will be a major obstacle to Ben Howland's pursuit of the super-talented big man. Parker had literally just returned from his trip to UCLA to find Coach K waiting for him, which is a clear signal that Duke doesn't want to lose their prize target, from their fertile Atlanta recruiting ground, to Howland, Parker's former AAU coach (new UCLA assistant Korey McCray) and AAU teammate (UCLA commit Jordan Adams). Let's keep our fingers crossed that Coach K's desperation move is in vain.
- Turning to academic news, UCLA scientists have once again out-did themselves, participating in a study that developed a gene therapy protocol that could very well, at the minimum, be a "functional cure" for HIV/AIDS. Ideally, the very good work of Bruins will hopefully lead to the development of a permanent solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Wonderful work going on in Westwood.
With that, those are your Bruin Bites for the middle of the week. Two more days until UCLA football makes a return and Rick gets at it in an absolute must-win game at home. Fire away with your thoughts, comments, and additional bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse in the comment thread.