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Playmakers

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Tick tock tick tock. Just about 14 hours left till Ben Ball. As I mentioned in the threads below, if any of you are heading towards Pauley tonight, please feel free to post your impressions of our team in the diary section. And, if you can post some pictures, even better. I am sure there are many in the Bruins Nation who will be hungry for any tidbits on Ben Howland's warriors.

Now, back to football. Brian Dohn reports on how the team hasn't developed any playmakers:

"We're just trying to find guys to be playmakers," Bruins junior fullback Michael Pitre said. "Those guys are playmakers. They just made plays. It's just trying to find guys anywhere on the offense, at this point, to make plays."

The search is intense, having already lasted two months without coming to a conclusion. UCLA (4-4, 2-3 Pacific 10) enters the final third of its season, beginning with Saturday's game at No. 10 California, with an offense still reeling from the loss of the Big Three.

"I never really look at it that way, to be honest," UCLA offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda said. "I think the bottom line is we have enough talent to be successful, and I don't think we're achieving to the level we should. And I take responsibility for that."

UCLA's offense, which averaged 39.1 points last season and failed to score more than 21 points just twice, is stagnant. In each of their four losses this season, the Bruins have not managed to score 21 points, and now the play of backup quarterback Patrick Cowan is being scrutinized.

Before being injured, starter Ben Olson completed 63.7percent of his passes with five touchdowns and five interceptions. Cowan, albeit against tougher opponents, is completing 53.5percent of his throws since taking over for Olson on Oct. 7. He has thrown five touchdown passes and four interceptions.
You can fault neither Cowan nor Olson for those meager numbers when the coaches are not making sure we always have our best athletes in the game.

I am not sure why it took until the eighth game of the season for all of us to find out Derrick Williams could be such a viable option at tailback.

We still don't get why Bell was getting carries over freshman Moline, when Moline already showed a knack for scoring TDs in the red zone. And, as we have mentioned countless times, we still don't get why Baumgartner gets the call over receivers such as Kethcum and Austin in the red zone, guys who not only are more athletic but have shown some of their talent to potentially emerge as playmakers.

This is just yet another reason Peter Carroll constantly clowns KD on the recruiting front because when elite blue chip athletes commit to Southern California, they know based on Peetie's track record that he is not going to hesitate the play the youngsters over his veterans if the young guys are making plays.

Speaking of making plays KD, his coaching staff is facing a team this weekend which has been making big plays the whole season. Here is the OC Register with some of Cal's impressive numbers:
Nothing gets easier for Rodney Van and the UCLA secondary, which gave up pass plays of 58, 35, 34, 22 and 20 yards last week in a loss to Washington State and two 17-yarders for touchdowns.

On Saturday, the Bruins face a Cal offense that has scorched opposing defenses for 43 pass plays of 20 yards or longer, a chilling number when compared with the 17 such plays produced by the struggling UCLA offense.

"That tells me they like to score. They want to score. They don't think about completions and things like that, they want to get the ball down field as quickly as possible and get in the end zone," defensive back Van said. "They're not going to settle for ... the three-and-outs. They're going to take their shots and try to get as many plays as they can."

For Van, the matchup becomes more personal because he will at times cover former Long Beach Poly High teammate DeSean Jackson, who has accounted for 13 of those 43 long pass plays including touchdowns of 48, 40, 36, 27 and 27 yards.

"He's just a very creative person, no matter when you get the ball in his hands," Van said. "If you get him a 2-yard hitch, he can turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. Or, if you get him a 70-yard bomb, he can catch that for a touchdown. He's just very versatile. You can't shut him down.

"There's just no way you can really shut him down, he's just that good of an athlete. But I'm going to do my best to limit his catches and keep him out of the end zone.
DeSean, of course, is not the lone playmaker on this talented Bear squad. LA Times profiles DeSean's team-mate - Cal RB Marshawn Lynch - probably the most explosive offensive weapon in the Pac-10:
UCLA's defense, which has given up almost 900 yards over the last two games, will not catch a break this week against California running back Marshawn Lynch, the Pacific 10 Conference's leading rusher.

Lynch, who rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown last year in a 47-40 loss to the Bruins, took advantage of Cal's week off last Saturday and will be close to 100% after being hampered because of an ankle sprain most of the season.

"Everything with them starts with their running game," UCLA senior defensive end Justin Hickman said of the Bears, who are ranked No. 10 with a 7-1 record. "In Marshawn Lynch, they have one of the best running backs in the country if not the best."

Despite his injury, Lynch rushed for 302 yards in 46 carries in his last two games. In Cal's overtime victory over Washington on Oct. 21, Lynch ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns after halftime.

At 5 feet 11 and 217 pounds, Lynch combines speed and power similar to Oregon's Jonathan Stewart, who ripped UCLA for 121 yards in the Ducks' 30-20 victory over the Bruins on Oct. 14.

"When you look at him, you just see another NFL back," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said of Lynch, who averages 113.4 yards a game and 6.9 yards a carry. "You just look at this kid and you know one day that he'll be making money playing on Sundays."
Must be nice to have all these offensive weapons putting together spectacular shows every Saturday. It has to be because Cal is a private school which really has no concern about academic excellence. Right? Someone tells me that's the case.

It is pretty interesting. Dorrell came into Westwood hyping his "NFL experience," his offensive schemes, and his recruiting prowess.  And here we are - four years after his hire - it's the other flagship UC campus (which hasn't gone to a Rose Bowl in almost 50 years and is nowhere close to UCLA in terms of a having a tradition of success in college football) with all the dazzling playmakers putting them in position to make a meaningful run at the Rose Bowl.

Something is wrong with that picture? No?

If you don't like it you try changing it.  You can get started by signing this petition here. And after you have signed it, share it with everyone you know.

May be some day we will get a Ben Howland of college football who will rebuild our program and optimize all the talent in our roster forcing the local scribes to write about the Bruin playmakers instead of ogling about the ones on our opponent's rosters.

Some day.  Don't forget to sign that petition.

GO BRUINS.

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