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No Excuses

After two games, the Bruin defense is feeling good about the statistics they compiled against Utah and Rice:

After two games, UCLA's defense has given up 26 first downs, 471 yards and three touchdowns. The numbers are much better than they were after two games last season when the Bruins had given up 39 first downs, 657 yards and six touchdowns.

It's this improved play under first-year defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker that has boosted UCLA's confidence heading into the start of Pacific 10 Conference play.

"It's only two games, but it definitely feels great to know that we have the No. 1 defense in the conference," junior safety Dennis Keyes said about the Bruins, who lead the league in fewest yards allowed (235.5) and rushing yards allowed (82.5) per game.

"It shows that all of our hard work is starting to pay off. Everything Coach Walker has been teaching us and emphasizing is starting to show results. That's keeping guys motivated and focused."
I like Dennis Keyes a lot. But I think I would wait if I were him before calling the D the best defense in Pac-10. We should all withhold making any judgment until the end of the game this Saturday. Because, given the quality of Washington's OL and running game, we will find out how much the Bruin D has truly improved.

And Dohn has more on the challenge for the Bruin defense this Saturday:
The members of Washington's starting offensive line average 308 pounds, and each weighs at least 300 pounds. Conversely, UCLA's starting defensive line averages 263.5 pounds and are backed by a small linebacker corps.

So UCLA believes it knows what Washington's game plan will be when the teams kick off their Pacific-10 Conference seasons Saturday in Seattle.

"They're going to try to run downhill with that big offensive line they have," UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis said. "That's no surprise. They probably feel like we haven't been tested yet. They figure they're going to go in and run the ball, and that's fine."

The Huskies (2-1) are averaging a conference-leading 210.7 rushing yards per game behind a balanced rushing attack. Tailbacks Louis Rankin (276 yards) and Kenny James (129), and quarterback Isaiah Stanback (211), each are averaging more than 10 carries a game.

Meanwhile, the Bruins defense, which yielded more than 200 yards per game in 2004 and 2005, limited Utah and Rice to 165 rushing yards combined in their first two games.

But neither Utah (spread) nor Rice (some option) ran conventional offenses, and neither had the girth of Washington's line.
We are going to find out early how much this defense has improved on Saturday. If Rankin and James are ripping off 5-6 yards a carry in the Huskies early drives, it could be a long day for Walker and co. It will be imperative for Bruins to stop the run early. Maybe bring up SS Horton to help out the run defense, while letting Keyes roam in the defensive backfield. If the Bruins can stifle the Husky running game, and our LBers don't let Stanback get out of the pocket, then we should be fine on Saturday.

On offense, it looks like the vulnerable Husky secondary may be even more vulnerable as Kuwada reports Washington CB Dashon Goldson may miss the UCLA game because of an angle injury. A situation I am sure Svoboda, Olson, and his receivers will keep an eye on.

As we head into tomorrow it is becoming a clear that this is a game Bruins should win. We have the talent to pull this off Saturday. If you think we are setting up these expectations to be hard on Coach Dorrell then think again.

Even the Husky fans know Bruins have more talent on the field. This is the teaser from one of ($) game previews:
Make no mistake about the talent at UCLA. There are many more players on the Bruin roster that Washington wanted then there are current Huskies that the Bruins wanted.
Also from an impartial observer such as CFN:
Washington is clearly making strides, but not enough to topple a well-rested Bruin team that's going to light up the Husky secondary.

CFN Prediction: UCLA 27 ... Washington 20 ...
From setting the picks for Oregon State football fans:
The 2-0 UCLA Bruins are rested coming off a bye week. This week's game marks the fifth time since 1997 that the Bruins have played Washington after a week off when the Huskies didn't have a bye. UCLA won all of those games. They beat the #13 Huskies in 1997, the #23 Huskies in 1999 in overtime and the 10th ranked squad in 2001. And it happened again last season with a 21-17 win. This year these kids from Seattle are far from ranked and the Bruins will be cracking the top 25 after they take care of them Saturday afternoon. They have won eight of the past nine in the series.

UCLA running back Chris Markey leads the conference in yards per carry at 7.5. I expect him to open up the passing game for quarterback Ben Olson, who has also looked good early this season. The UW secondary is banged up and inexperienced, expect them to get shredded. I'm not sold on the Huskies resurgence yet. The play is UCLA and I don't see shades of grey.
Back to Husky Fans. Kim Grinolds, the Managing Partner of
Unless UW can devise a scheme in the secondary or get big time pressure on the QB, Ben Olson will have a big day. He is too accurate and doesn?t look like he rattles too easily, being that he?s 23-years old. The Huskies will somehow need to get to him, or cover receivers that are faster than they are. That is not a recipe for success that the Huskies have just yet.

PREDICTION: UCLA 35, Washington 10
And lastly from another huge Dawg fan - Chris Fetters - the Editor-in-Chief of
The Huskies come off a solid win over a tough team in Fresno State, but the Bruins come calling...the one nice thing about this game is that Washington - if they play up to expectation - can hang with the Bruins, especially if they are able to run the ball like they did against them last year. Apparently UCLA's calling card on defense now is toughness, which is kind of funny in one respect and kind of scary in another. I don't think UCLA will play many teams that are as physical as what UW is going to be on Saturday, but I just don't see a defensive remedy for a potent Bruin attack. UCLA 42-28

PREDICTION: UCLA 42, Washington 28
We will take any of those scores and they seem to match up with the general consensus forming in the Bruins Nation.

To sum it up it will be the Bruins with more talent on the field coming off a two week rest.  So it will be up to the coaches to pull it off. There will be no excuses for not winning this game tomorrow.