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Veterans Day Roundup

Tomorrow is Veterans Day.  As always our prayers and thoughts go out to you every brave men and women of our armed forces, serving our nation at home and abroad. They are our heroes.

Now back to talking about our heroes of Bruin grid iron who are going through yet another tough season. Dohn reports on the plight of the struggling Bruin defense:

UCLA first-year defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker was so displeased after last week's fourth straight loss at Cal, he promised personnel changes for Saturday's contest with Oregon State at the Rose Bowl.

The two starters being looked at most closely were free safety Dennis Keyes and cornerback Rodney Van, but neither lost their starting position. Still, Bret Locket will see time at safety and freshman cornerback Alterraun Verner will play also. Their play isn't all that ails the defense.

Early in the season, even if tackles were missed, any number of gold-helmeted players maniacally chased to a ballcarrier to make up for a lapse by one player. Indeed, pursuit of the ballcarrier has also become lax.

"I really challenged them," Walker said. "We have three games left. That's a lot of football. A lot of people don't think we can do it, but that's the fun part.

"We've kind of stepped our level up, as coaches, in terms of stressing more drills, getting more aggressive, in our periods of practice. We picked our level up and forced them to pick their level up. I think that's a part of coaching, too. You can't put it all on them."

The Bruins did plenty of tackling and ball pursuit drills during practice this week in an effort to regain early-season form. During the first month of the season the Bruins had the best defense, statistically, in the Pacific-10 Conference, and was one of the tops in the nation.

However, after entering October ranked third in total defense (221.5 ypg), ninth in rushing defense (65.8) and 19th in scoring defense (13.8 ppg), the Bruins yielded 30 or more points in three games and dropped a fourth when the defense couldn't hold a late lead at Notre Dame.

Subsequently, the Bruins are 46th in total defense (311.7 ypg), 15th against the run (91.6) and 52nd in scoring defense (20.8 ppg).
Not good to say the least. And it is interesting to note that after talking so much about "personnel changes" there is not going to be changes in the starting line going into this weekend's game. These guys will have their hand full with Oregon State, which has a number of play makers, including running back Yvenson Bernard:
Oregon State's ground game is led by 5-foot-9 junior running back Yvenson Bernard, who is second in the Pac-10 in rushing, averaging 101.5 yards despite being slowed in recent weeks because of an ankle injury.

Bernard, who did not play in the Beavers' victory over three-time defending Pac-10 champion USC two weeks ago, has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 of his last 16 games.

"He's a smaller guy who's very thick," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "You can't just run up to him and knock him down. We're going to have to do a real good job of tackling against him."
Receiver Sammie Stroughter is another OSU playmaker Matt Moore looks for a lot:
Senior quarterback Matt Moore's statistics for the season are nothing special -- eight touchdown passes; six interceptions -- but he does a good job of getting the ball to Oregon State's playmakers.

Junior receiver Sammie Stroughter leads the conference in receiving yards a game at 96.1 and is fourth with 47 catches. Senior tight end Joe Newton has caught at least three passes in a game six times this season.
Sammie Stroughter is also an explosive presence in the special (as the Trojans found out couple weekends ago), and the Bruins should be worried considering our special team is nothing special:
Special teams could play a big part in a close game against Oregon State, and the Bruins know they need to improve.

UCLA gave up a punt return for a touchdown to Cal and will now see Sammie Stroughter, who has returned three punts for scores this season.

Also, kicker Justin Medlock had an off week against Cal with missed field goals from 39 and 44 yards, well within the range of the Lou Groza Award candidate.

"He's fine," Dorrell said of Medlock. "He's been through that before where he's had a miss or two and he's responded."
Yeah I am sure KD needs Medlock for our inspiring offensive performances in the red zone. It tells you a lot about "the Thinker" football program when people are wondering whether the Bruins will be able to handle the Beavers at home.

We love our heroes of Bruin grid iron. These kids are giving it all every weekend. But is time for us to call for a new commander-in-chief who will turn our football program around from being the joke of the nation.

GO BRUINS.