Big game, part 2.
The Bruins will travel to Eugene today to meet the mighty Oregon Ducks this afternoon in Autzen Stadium. With College Game Day making the trip west, all the nation's eyes will be on Heisman frontrunner Marcus Mariota and the reportedly unstoppable Oregon offense. Kickoff will be at 4pm Pacific, so we have some time today to get ready for this afternoon's main event. The schedule for today's college football games and where they will be televised can be seen here. We will use this for our morning open thread until our game thread goes up about 15 minutes before kickoff.
So in the meantime, let's take a look around the UCLA-iverse to see what people are saying about Bruin Football.
- One benefit of being in Oregon's spotlight today is that some of our Bruin stars will get a chance to shine on a national stage, as well. Holly Anderson at Grantland focuses her Who's That Guy segment on Anthony Barr this week, and describes his game with this nugget, "Anthony Barr's superpower is transforming on the field from a human into a bull and making a china shop appear everywhere he goes." Not bad. Even better, her article closes with last season's best highlight, but today is a whole new game.
- Barr's freakish speed and athleticism will be put to the test against the freakish speed and athleticism of the entire Oregon offense today, which will get even freakier and athletic-ummm-er with the return of De'Anthony Thomas. Dan Greenspan of NFL.com looked at the matchup of the two stars and how the Ducks may use Thomas and their other weapons to neutralize Barr by lining up outside and running pass routes his way. While Barr has proven adept at covering slot receivers and backs, keeping him out of the backfield and away from Mariota will give the Oregon QB a lot more security to operate their high tempo offense.
- The difficulty of trying to contain Mariota was the subject of an article by Zac Ellis for SI's Campus Union, who called Mariota " the most dynamic player in college football" and said he is "putting together a Heisman Trophy-worthy résumé for the unbeaten Ducks". The Bruins' redshirting freshman QB Asiantii Woulard drew the role of to playing Mariota on the scout team this week, but even Coach Mora admitted," You're never going to be able to find a kid in your scout team to put out there and say, ‘OK, you're Marcus Mariota'."
- The other big issue for the Bruins this week is the young offensive line, which will be even younger this week with sophomore Simon Goines sitting out with a knee sprain and being replaced by true freshman Scott Quessenberry. Jack Wang at The Daily News wrote about Q trying to fit into "a spot that Mora said was 'without a doubt' the most difficult for first-year players to learn". Wang also discussed the importance of Coach Adrian Klemm and the "unique" relationship he has with his O Line players, noting how he'll tear into the unit at practice and then they'll all have lunch together later in his office.
- And speaking of freshmen, Eric Olson of the AP notes we are playing a lot of them. The Bruins and Texas A&M have both played 17 true freshmen so far this season, and Quessenberry's start will make it 18 for UCLA. For many potential recruits, the ability to play early matters. Bruins true freshman Kenny Clark said he studied depth charts and wouldn't consider schools where he might have to redshirt. Conversely, he knew he'd have a chance to play on the Bruins revamped defensive line this year. So while the growing pains of the youth movement can be frustrating to us as fans at times, it is a real attraction for some of the top high school athletes.
Big game, part 1 didn't go so well for us last Saturday, and now it seems no one is giving us much of a chance today. Not the media, not the Game Day talking heads, and certainly not the Ducks. We're on the road, in the most hostile environment in the Pac, against quite possibly the best team in the country and the likely Heisman winner, with 3 freshmen on our O Line, and our confidence banged up after last week's letdown.
Some would say things look pretty bleak.
Snap back to reality...
I say we got the Ducks right where we want them.