Football Friday Updates

The Bruins had some extended meetings and a walkthrough this morning, and will be departing for Bezerkeley about 12:30 Westwood time. Again, if anyone is around, get down to the Acosta Center and give the Bruins a big sendoff.

There is still some question about whether the Bruins are taking the buses to LAX to get on a flight, or whether those buses are humping over Mullholland and the Grapevine and up the Central Valley to No Cal. Cal, in a somewhat famous money saving effort, rode buses down to Pasadena a few years back, so there is precedent. The Bears happened to win that game, too. Anyway, for the answers, just check Twitter in a couple hours. If you see more pics of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, you'll know they are flying. If you see flat nothingness (i.e. Fresno), it's a real old-fashioned road trip.

For those of you remaining behind in So Cal, Jon Wilner has an update on the standoff between the Pac-12 Network and DirectTV. Guess what? There is nothing new on the negotiation front. Sadly, there is more coverage of the television standoff than there is over the NHL standoff (was anyone aware the first month of hockey has been cancelled?), but that's why football is king and hockey is cold.

But Wilner does go into hero mode with an exhaustive list of bars and restaraunts along the West Coast that have the Pac-12 Network, so this should help for planning viewing parties. The list was complied by the Pac-12 Conference office. Note to self: don't poke Larry Scott. Those of you in No Cal need no such list. The game is on top of a fault in the East Bay. Get over there, wear Bruin Blue, and cheer on our team.

Over at ESPN-LA, Peter Yoon lists several keys to the game tomorrow evening. While the list of attitude, pash rush, pass coverage, running game, and slowing their skill players isn't terribly insightful, he does hit on a one major area. Cal is currently last in the country in sacks given up (25). Considering that Cal's premiere offensive players are WR Keenan Allen and QB Zac Maynard (OSU's basketball coach wants to know how they are related) and that Cal Coach Jeff Tedford, a noted QB guru, is looking to get his team turned around, and knowing that pass coverage is an area of weakness for the Bruins, I expect the Bears will really try to get this tandem going. That should give the Bruin defense ample opportunity to get upfield and pile on that sack total, literally. Jordan Zumwalt will be hungry after missing last week, Damien Holmes was a beast on the outside last week, and Anthony Barr is Anthony Barr. The D line has also done a nice job tying up the OL to open lanes to get to the QB. That front 7 will need to stay disciplined to keep Maynard from tucking and running, and Cal does have a good ground game.

But I like this matchup, especially if our offense can build a lead and make Cal play from behind, so I will look for the Bruins' pass pressure to convert some more sacks and force some bad throws, something Maynard has been susceptible to before. Safety Tevin McDonald picked Maynard 3 times last season. He knows they will need some more this year, but per Earl Bloom in the OC Register, McDonald isn't taking anything for granted.

We know this is going to be a tough game," McDonald said. "They're probably a little upset about last year."

It wasn't always like this. McDonald was told about the 1978 game, when a Bruins team went to Cal and won, 45-0. UCLA made 10 interceptions that day, returning three for touchdowns.

"Ten? That's unreal," said McDonald, thinking about the just-discussed, current Bruins goal of three takeaways.

He seemed visibly impressed by that number. And, as the interview ended, it seemed obvious that McDonald was recalculating his defense's standards, if only just a little.

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