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Quiet Confidence

Confidence is the key word from this morning's Sunday roundup:

Rich Hammond covers the UCLA beat for Daily News today. Hammond's notes conveys Dorrell confidence in his defense, getting ready for Utah's Brett Ratliff:

Putting pressure on Ratliff will be key for UCLA in controlling Utah's spread offense, and to that end Dorrell said he has been pleased with what he's seen from his defense, particularly the depth of the front four, led by Brigham Harwell and Kevin Brown. Dorrell also praised sophomore Kenneth Lombard.

"I've mentioned many times before how much depth we have on defense," Dorrell said. "In practice, we want our defense to be ahead of the offense at the start, but now our offense is catching up a bit."
I really think the depth and experience at our DL is going to be a big huge difference next Saturday. I expect our front-7 to put heavy pressure on Ratliff, disrupting his passing rhythm next Saturday. And I also expect our defense not to give up the kind of real estate it was giving up to opposing tailbacks last years.

Bruce Davis is certainly excited about playing in this new defense. And he didn't hide his excitement while talking to Robert Kuwada (the OC Register) this past weekend. Davis believes UCLA D has the edge on Utah O, pretty "locked up":
"We've got speed all over the place, and now we're finally going to be known as a speedy, tough defense," Davis said.

"They've put a lot of people in situations to make plays, and I'm one of those lucky guys.

"Our defense is just a lot different than last year. We're a lot more aggressive, we get up the field, and it lets everybody on the field use their speed." [...]

Against Utah, he will face tackles Tavo Tupola and Jason Boone, who led the Utes' offensive linemen in total plays last season.

"The open side end in this defense, you get to make a lot of plays and show off your speed," Davis said. "It's like playing linebacker except I'm in a three-point stance, which I've been in my whole life. It's like the best of both worlds, balled up in one position.

"It's like my coach said, 'You've got to pray that they run to the outside or they pull up that bootleg to your side, because you're sitting there waiting.'

"There are not too many guys out there who are going to outrun me to the corner, unless a team is going to come out with Michael Vick, which is not going to happen.

"I think I have the edge out there pretty locked up."
Let's hope Davis and co. can back all this smack talk 6 days from now. Because if they can't not only it will be a long day for them next Saturday, it will probably end up becoming a long season.

Davis is not the only one exuding (some are calling it "quiet") confidence these days. LA Times has this from running back Kahlil Bell:
In Year 4 of Coach Karl Dorrell's era, UCLA exudes quiet confidence as it enters the final week of preparation for its season opener against Utah on Saturday.

Last year's 10-2 record is a big reason why.

"Obviously, our expectations here are pretty high," sophomore running back Kahlil Bell said. "We feel that we have the talent on this team to have an even better season. We have a lot of potential, but as everybody knows, potential is a very scary word. Because if you don't live up to it, then you're nothing."
And more from Dorrell on how the OL is better than last year's OL:
Dorrell said that UCLA's offensive line is superior to last season's group because of its mobility despite having three 300-pound players in the unit. Guard Shannon Tevaga and tackle Aleksey Lanis, each listed at 316 pounds, and tackle Noah Sutherland, listed at 299, have led the first-team line since camp started. Center Robert Chai (280) and guard Chris Joseph (282) are the other starters. Last season, UCLA averaged 431 yards a game in offense.
Well all this quiet confidence is nice. We love the optimism of late August. But as Bell pointed out all this will amount to "nothing," of this team doesn't live up to its potential, which is the minimum expectation of winning 9 games and beating SC. Just saying.

Lastly, Kyle from Dawg Sports has more on the discussion concerning East Coast Bias from ESPN, as he argues the ESPN coverage is driven by narrative rather than bias. This post specifically addresses my concern re. the staff makeup of ESPN which leads to an inherent bias in their coverage of CFB and hoops. As usual lots of good points, and I certainly intend to respond to them when I have more time. But after reading it once already, I can tell you I don't think we are too far apart. We will get to a common ground eventually.

Happy Sunday everyone.