I mentioned yesterday how our DBs will need to rough up Jarrett, Smith (and Patrick Turner). Our CBs - Brown, Van, and Verner - are undersized. But they can hit. Remember this?
We need to see some hits like that right out of the gate this Saturday. I realize it is impossible to stop Jarrett and Smith for an entire game. However, that doesn't mean we give them an inch. Make them earn it. Brown, Van, and Verner should bruise up the Trojans receivers all game playing bump and run at the LOS. And when they catch a ball make those guys. They need to literally beat up these Trojan thugs at the Rose Bowl.
Speaking of our defense, OC Register's Kuwada has an article on the improvements under DeWayne Walker:
But when it comes to the UCLA defense, comparisons to last year do not have much meaning. Under first-year defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, the Bruins are playing a much more aggressive style than they did under former coordinator Larry Kerr, and the results have been dramatic.
UCLA is second in the Pac-10 in scoring and rushing defense as well as in turnover margin, with 25 takeaways (14 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions). The Bruins are fourth in the conference in total defense, allowing 302.6 yards per game, and they allow an average of 4.8 yards per play, also second in the Pac-10.
They take that into their game Saturday at the Rose Bowl against the Trojans, who no longer have Reggie Bush or LenDale White, but appear to have more than enough playmakers to diminish the gains the Bruins have made defensively this season.
But Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith and Patrick Turner will not be running through wide-open spaces of a soft zone the Bruins played a year ago.
Meanwhile, on offense as I mentioned yesterday we don't need our running backs to carry the load. Markey and co. should not feel the pressure to produce a 150+ rushing efforts or average 4.0+ yard per carry against the stout Trojan defense. They just need to be serviceable and be more consistent. Being consistent has been the main issue for Markey. From the LA Times today:
"As an offense, we have to pick it up," said Markey, who gained only 47 yards in 18 carries in UCLA's 24-12 victory over Arizona State on Nov. 18. "In our last game, we all expected a bigger game in the run game. But we got the win.
"Against USC, we're going to have to be focused on every little detail. Everyone has to know what is going on in our run game in order for us to be successful."
Although Markey did not follow the UCLA-USC rivalry closely while growing up in Louisiana, he's no longer impartial, not with the Trojans winning the last seven games over the Bruins.
"Coming in as a freshman, I saw how important it was for everyone around here," Markey said. "Being a Bruin, I fell into it and caught on. I want to beat these guys as bad as anyone else."
No matter what KD's offense cannot afford to be predictable like it has been during most of the games this season. If Dorrell can scheme in some play calls which calls for some draw plays, or delay type of running plays, that could be enough to throw off the speedy Trojan LBers off their heels. We have enough talent in our running game with Markey and Moline to make this happen. The burden will be on Dorrell to set the right tone with right mix of play calls, which will make our offense less than predictable, and allow it to sustain some drives.
We are counting on our improved defense to set the tone right out of the gate with some huge bone crushing hits rattling the Trojan offense. Building on that tone we need our offense to come out and play with some purpose, and perhaps take advantage schemes which will not be as predictable as they have been most of this season. It's all about setting the right tone though.
We know we have the talent both on our offense and defense to pull this off. Let's hope our coaches on both sides of the ball put our players in positions that will allow them to set the tone and win this game on Saturday.