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Red Zone Roundup

OC Jim Svoboda is back in the papers today. This time Svoboda is talking about how the Bruins despite eating up a lot of clock, is not exactly cashing in the red zone. From the LA Times:

UCLA has been a model of consistency over the first two games when it comes to keeping the football away from opponents.

The Bruins lead the Pacific 10 Conference in time of possession, averaging 35 minutes 37 seconds a game -- nearly two minutes more than any other team in the conference.

But ball control has not produced many touchdowns for UCLA's offense, which has reached the end zone only five times and is tied with Arizona for the fewest offensive scores in the Pac-10.

"I don't really consider time of possession a real vital statistic," UCLA offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda said. "It is in some cases, but there have been lots of examples of people who won games but did not win time of possession."

UCLA is averaging 192 yards rushing, 221 yards passing and 26 first downs a game. Good numbers but not dominating. With the Bruins starting conference play Saturday at Washington, their goal is to add more big plays to their ball control.

"When you get first downs, you maintain possession," Svoboda said. "But we also talk a lot about creating explosive plays through second effort."
This problem really stemmed (again going back to the Rice game) from bad play calling. I think Bruins would have scored few more TDs if we stayed with the running game in the red zone against Owls. The Owls were giving us the run all night and we didn't take thorough advantage of it. That's an adjustment Svoboda failed to make during the second half of that game. Hopefully he will be lot smarter during the Washington game, and stick with what the defense gives him. The Times report goes on to mention (like the Daily News report from yesterday) that Bruins may look deep. But Svoboda smartly points out that Bruins shouldn't force deep balls, but take advantage of Washington secondary when opportunity presents itself.

The OC Register report today also has more on Bruin's red zone execution with a troubling comment from Breazell:
"I think we took Rice lightly. I think we underestimated them there," receiver Brandon Breazell said.

UCLA's silver lining in the red zone is kicker Justin Medlock, who tied his career high with four field goals against the Owls.

"We're never happy with field goals," Svoboda said. "We love him (Medlock), but we want him on the sidelines and kicking extra points. We want to keep our aggressive mentality. We know the plays we want to execute."

Washington, UCLA's opponent Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium, might allow several extra-point opportunities for Medlock. The Huskies are tied for last with USC and Oregon State in the Pac-10 in red-zone defense. Washington has yet to stop an opponent inside its 20-yard line (10 for 10, including seven touchdowns).
Well no matter how vulnerable Washington defense may be in the red-zone, if the Bruins take the Huskies "lightly," and "underestimate" them, they will pay a huge price in Seattle (like they did in Arizona last year).

Meanwhile, the drama continues to unfold with Bruins punt returning situation. Looks like now Ryan Graves is into the mix. Dohn reports:
As the punt returners turn: Among the Pacific 10-limit 64 players UCLA will travel to Seattle are nine receivers, Bruins coach Karl Dorrell said, but not all are going just to catch passes.

Receivers Ryan Graves and Terrence Austin will go primarily to be used as punt returners. Yes, it appears Graves is now in the mix with Austin and receiver Marcus Everett.

"I'm probably going to start with Terrence Austin and Ryan Graves," Dorrell said. "(Everett) is still in there. I know Ryan Graves is really good at it. He's been wanting to do it since last year, and we're going to give him that opportunity."
I will bite my lips for now and see how it turns out on Saturday.

Dohn also has another article on the Bruins today. He writes up a great profile on OL Chris Jospeh. It's an inspiring read of a talented and intelligent (3.94 GPA in Geology) student athlete who is fighting like hell to stay in the starting unit after recovering from two serious knee surgeries. I know I criticize the coaching staff a lot. But I do commend them for having such wonderful kids in our program. Again quiet a contrast from the 'student athletes' across-town.

Chris Joseph and his team-mates in the OL will have to step up this Saturday. If they can put together a complete game, giving Ben time to throw (like they did against Utah), and open up holes for Markey, Bell to plunder through (like they did against Rice), Bruins should be fine on Saturday. If the OL puts together a complete game, Bruins red zone executions will be fine. Once again it will be up to the coaches to get them ready.