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A Flicker of Momentum?

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Those Dorrell lovers who are getting all excited about a no-name Bowl game featuring 6 win teams, think again. Per LA Times today, for the Bruins to make some bowl game nobody cares about, they will have to win out their last two games:

The Pacific 10 Conference could have eight teams finish with enough victories to qualify for a bowl game this season, but the league has ties to only six. That means UCLA (5-5 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-10) might need to sweep its final two games at Arizona State and against USC at the Rose Bowl on Dec. 2 in order to secure a bowl invitation.
That also means the spin of a moral victory against a vulnerable Southern California (weak enough to lose to Matt Moore and Mike Riley's Beavers) will not work this year.

In order to beat the Trojans, though, the Bruins will need to continue whatever momentum they gained by beating up on a mediocre Beavers team this past Saturday. DeWayne Walker is out in front taking credit for the Bruin defense which was nonexistent in their last two games:
Walker also didn't downplay the significance of UCLA's best defensive outing since defeating Arizona 27-7 on Oct. 7.

"It's huge. Huge," Walker said. "I told our players this week, and we'll see if it's true or not, but I really believe if we came back this week and have a good game, there's a good chance we'll play good defense from here on out."

The Bruins (5-5, 3-4 Pac-10) will need to, since a trip to up-and-down Arizona State and the season finale against USC remain, and UCLA must win at least one more game to have a chance to play in a bowl game.

"You can call it refocused, but I think they just had more energy," Walker said of the defense. "I think it really started with the preparation all week in practice. You like to get it to a point where you don't have to do that. We're not there yet. So I'll be animated this week. I'll do the same stuff this week that I did last week."

Also playing a factor was Walker's decision to not deviate as much from the defensive style UCLA used in getting out to a 4-1 start.

During that run, the Bruins blitzed heavily and played a lot of man-to-man coverage. But Walker said he changed the philosophy a bit in losses to Washington State and California, opting to play more zone and give the cornerbacks more safety help. [...]

"Maybe the Washington State game shouldn't have happened, and the Cal game, just because of this is who we are," Walker said. "This is how we play, and it doesn't matter if they have (Cal's) DeSean Jackson or whoever else. This is who we are. We run to the ball, we (gang) tackle."
Yeah may the Washington State game shouldn't have happened considering they have been looking pathetic ever since they blew out UCLA.  Maybe the Washington game shouldn't have happened considering they just lost to Stanford. Yes Stanford. May be, just may be we should have stayed aggressive during that last minute of Notre Dame. Whatever. It's nice that Walker has no problem taking credit after winning football games considering he has no problem throwing players under a bus, after losing games Bruins have no business losing. He obviously has no room for error if he keep wants to talking about himself in the remaining weeks of this already disappointing season.

Meanwhile, Dorrell has QB issues to deal with:
After returning to practice last week, quarterback Ben Olson said he expects to be ready to play at Arizona State on Saturday.

"I'll probably be full-go on Tuesday," said Olson, who has not played since he tore a knee ligament Oct. 7 against Arizona.

Although Olson, 23, was in uniform for the Bruins' 25-7 victory over Oregon State on Saturday, he did not play. But Olson said he could have if needed.

"I would have had to warm up a little bit, but I could have got it going," Olson said. "I wouldn't have been 100%, but I could have played."

Sophomore Patrick Cowan, who picked up his first victory as a starter since he replaced Olson, probably will begin the practice week as the No. 1 quarterback, but Coach Karl Dorrell said last week that he'd like to get Olson "back into the fold."

Whether that means Olson will return as the starter or just work with the first-team offense in practice, Dorrell hasn't said. But Olson -- who waited five years before getting a starting job in college -- does not want to wait.
And what does Olson think of this situation? From the OC Register:
Olson said he does not think a starting player should lose his position because of an injury.

"That's my philosophy, but, you know what? My opinion and my philosophy doesn't matter in the matter," he said.

If healthy, Olson figures to have an edge over Cowan, who had a solid second half in the Bruins' 25-7 victory over Oregon State at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, snapping a four-game UCLA losing streak.

"I thought I had a good week in practice, as far as sitting off for four weeks. I've been keeping up as far as being in every meeting and doing all of that kind of stuff. I feel very confident," Olson said Saturday.

His health is a question.

"It feels pretty good when I get it warmed up and stuff, but then when I sit out and try to get it back, to go back and forth, it's kind of tough," he said. "But I'll have a couple of days off now. I'll have a couple of days to rest and try to go full-go."
Whatever happens, Dorrell needs to make sure he is not putting Olson's long term health in jeopardy.

I think it is obvious of our two quarterbacks, Ben has more physical talent. He is more accurate. His accuracy did dropoff in his last 2-3 games, but that had more to do with his confidence issues which could have been result of Svoboda and Dorrell's bonehead offensive schemes and mind boggling play calling.

Ben seems to much stronger who can cause defensive players to roll of his back when they are coming in for the sack. Ben also has enough speed.

However, if Ben is tentative due to his injuries Pat may have the edge because of his over all quickness, and mobility. Plus after four games even though he doesn't have Ben's accuracy, I have been impressed with Pat's moxy as a QB. I like his pocket presence. I like how he checks off with confidence and swagger.

Again Ben Olson should be our starting QB when he is 100 percent. The question is whether Dorrell will make a decision that will put his long term health in jeopardy just so he can somehow keep the flicker of momentum generated from a meaningless win.

Is Dorrell strong enough leader to quash even the hint of QB controversy by staying with Cowan and win these last two games no matter who is at the QB?

UCLA has enough talent on its roster to beat a pathetic ASU team on the road, and then pull out all the stops to finally beat an over-rated Trojan team at the Rose Bowl. And after all the happy talk coming out of UCLA locker room following the Oregon State game it seems like the team has some momentum.

The question is whether UCLA has a head coach who is a strong enough leader to use whatever momentum his team generated from a meaningless, uninspiring win, and finish the season strong by winning it's last two games.

Well if Dorrell wasn't lying earlier before the seasons started when he said this is his best and deepest team yet, then winning these two games shouldn't be a problem.

GO BRUINS.