Well, last Saturday sure sucked, didn't it? Getting smoked by a mediocre Cal team after another hot start to a season has us all weary of this year going into the toilet as pretty much every UCLA football season has under Chianti Dan's reign of error. So we'll see if the Bruins can shake off their post-Berkeley funk and get the season back on track against the enigmatic Utah Utes, who come into the Rose Bowl at 2-3. On one hand, one of those wins was over pitiful Division I-AA Northern Colorado, but one of their losses was a pretty close 38-28 loss to U$C. That said, the Bruins are at home and heavily favored to put down a Utah squad that lost their starting QB to a career-ending medical retirement. Anything less than a complete game from the offense, defense, and special teams leading to a comfortable UCLA win will be coming up short. Coverage begins at noon PT and if you can't make it to the Rose Bowl, the game will be nationally televised on Fox.
The Bruins are facing adversity once again, and will once again get a chance to bounce back against one of the Pac-12's newest patsies following a choke job against inferior competition. Let's see if Mora is able to get things turned around and finish the season strong or if we're left with another all-too-common Chianti Dan era mediocre UCLA football season. So, with that said, let's turn to the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with the game, the San Jose Mercury-News' Jon Wilner picked the Bruins to win easily, expecting the Bruin offense to put up at least 24 while the UCLA defense should be able to shut down Utah. The only way Wilner sees this being a game is if the Bruins hand it to the Utes through stupidity (which, as we've seen in the Chianti Dan era, is a very realistic possibility).
- Even the Utes' hometown paper is picking the Bruins to win today: the Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe thinks the game will be close but expect the Bruins to bounce back with a 21-14 win. And in case you missed it, Kragthorpe notes some key numbers on how bad Utah is: 114th in the nation in offense and allowing an average of 472 yards per game in their last two games (both losses) to Arizona State and U$C. Anything less than a complete win will be a fail for the Bruins.
- With Utah's defense likely to follow Cal's example in focusing on blocking dynamic linebackers Damien Holmes and Anthony Barr, UCLA's defensive line knows they will have to step up in getting pressure in Utah's backfield. Owamagbe Odighuzawa is the primary focus of Earl Bloom's bit in the Orange County Register, with some key quotes by the still-waiting-to-blow-up junior defensive end. Let's see if he can finally get it going and live up to the hype he had coming out of HS.
- In case you missed it, ESPN's Peter Yoon had a round-up about the same ol' disappointing UCLA, marked by inconsistency and mediocre results, with only one constant: Chianti Dan. Most alarming are comments he quoted by Sheldon Price, which just shows the loser mentality of UCLA's football culture under Chianti Dan: entitled players who slack off after reading all their hype in the papers, only to once again get embarrassed by being smoked all over the field:
We had been playing well and to get hit on the chin like that, it hurts. It just shows you that every week you have to bring your A-game because we didn't do that.
- On the other hand, UCLA does have some pretty hard-hitting guys, the prime example being Dalton Hilliard who has been willing to go through numerous position changes to help the team win. Miguel Melendez has a real good profile on the hard-hitting Hawaiian defensive back/linebacker. All-in-all, Dalton really is a great guy, so let's hope Mora and this team can put it together so he can go out with a bang. It might help if Mora would bench the Toast Twins (Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price), slide Andrew Abbott over to corner and use Dalton, Stan McKay, and Randall Goforth in the secondary more often.
- Finally, in case you missed it, one of our all-time favorite Bruins, Maurice Jones-Drew, was on campus this week to meet with the football team to talk about his experience from pushing out from the East Bay (MJD hails Antioch, making his way to UCLA by the way of Bob Ladouceur's De La Salle program) to UCLA, and ultimately to NFL stardom after being passed up in the first round of the NFL Draft. Let's hope these young Bruins can tap into some of that classic MJD magic today.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Saturday morning of college football started. Kick-off is slated for noon PT, and we will have our usual set of gamethreads up for the game. For now, this will be our morning college football open thread. Get fired up and fire away with your thoughts, comments, etc. in the open thread below.