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A Litmus Test

Lonnie White from the LA Times gets to the point:

UCLA is ranked second nationally in total defense and rushing defense and can earn some respect if it also can shut down high-powered Oregon on Saturday in Eugene. The Ducks, led by junior quarterback Dennis Dixon, are No. 7 in the nation in total offense, averaging 470.2 yards a game.

"Just look at the yards and points that they put up every week," said DeWayne Walker, UCLA's first-year defensive coordinator. "They have the most prolific offense that we've faced. I know a lot of people are out there criticizing us, claiming that we haven't played anybody. This will be a big test."

Before joining UCLA's coaching staff, Walker had spent seven of his previous eight seasons coaching in the NFL. Now that he's back working at the college level, Walker has learned that spread offenses such as Oregon's -- used by several Pac-10 teams -- are challenging to defend.

"They make it tough on you because they can spread you out and still run everything in their passing and running games," Walker said about the shotgun-based formation that features multiple wide receivers.

"In the NFL it's all about execution and you always can get a better read on what an offense is trying to do by personnel groups and down and distance. In college, it's nothing like that. You can get a four-wide receiver look and think a team is looking to pass, yet they run the ball.

"Then, when you leave your base on the field, they throw the ball. It's more of a chess match in terms of trying to stay ahead of the game."
Hmm. Actually Oregon is no. 4 in the nation in total offense. But that's beside the point. As Walker alluded this is going to be a huge test for the Bruin defense. A test which a defense ranked no. 2 in the nation should be able to handle. The Cal defense shut down the Ducks at Berkeley by completely shutting down the Ducks running attack. Cal stacked the box by putting up 8-9 men defensive front, which bottled up Jonathan Stewart (whose ankle may not be 100 percent). Cal could afford to put 8-9 men in the box because it has a great corner in Hughes who could match up against Oregon receiver Jaison Williams 1 on 1. It will be interesting to see if Walker gambles and puts Rodeny, Trey in 1 on 1 situations and focus on stopping on the Oregon run game. I think we will have to take some chances and gamble with some blitzes. Davis and Hickman are having great seasons, but Saturday will be a good time for them to show they can bring the heat and put pressure and rattle quarterback of a talented team with good offensive line.

Speaking of the defense on Tuesday I mentioned how we need to be weary of Christian Taylor's injury because he is the quarterback of our defense.  Well it looks like Taylor suffered a setback in practice and may not be ready to go. Dohn reports that Kyle Bosworth will get the start at MLB and talks about the implications of not having Taylor calling he defensive signals:
Bruins coach Karl Dorrell said Bosworth will make his first career start, and be responsible for the majority of UCLA's defensive calls.

"It's big shoes to fill, so it will be a lot of pressure," said Bosworth, the nephew of former Oklahoma All-American and Seattle Seahawk Brian Bosworth.

"(Taylor) was real fast and aggressive, and real smart and knew everything. I think I'll be able to get it done if they pull my card and it's time for me to play, but we'll see when it comes Saturday."

Taylor is UCLA's third-leading tackler, but his most important assets are leadership and putting UCLA's defense, which is ranked second nationally in yards allowed (221.6 per game), in the proper position.

That responsibility will now fall to Bosworth.

"Am I afraid of him? No," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "Is he young? Yeah. Do I know what I'm going to get? No."

Bosworth played well in relief of Taylor last week. Although he missed several defensive checks, Bosworth finished with five tackles and showed his ability to pursue to the ball carrier.
Kyle is not going to have a lot of room for error for tomorrow afternoon at Eugene. Neither will his coaches.  Like I said couple of days again Dorrell is 0-7 against teams with winning record on the road. We have heard so much talk about how improved our defense is I think it is probably reasonable for the Bruins Nation to expect this unit to put forth a decent showing and hold the Oregon offense to within low 20s, which should give our offense the opportunity to pull out a win (with a QB everyone has so much confidence in) given the vulnerabilities in Oregon D. This is a litmus test they have to pass if they want to make their case Bruin football is headed towards the right direction under the leadership of Karl Dorrell.