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Cal Number & Notes

I know once again this is shaping up as a huge game for our Thinker. But as I have said before I really don't care much about this game. I actually happen to think despite being severely handicapped with a doofus like Dorrell, UCLA still will have a very decent shot to win this game.

I don't think we can every underestimate the factor of playing at home. It works for our kids. They feel off the emotion. And they also feed off the emotion of playing better opponents. There is no doubt in my mind they are going to be fired up for this game, determined to prove something about themselves and their coaches.

And add to that mix we have a Cal team that is coming of a mentally crushing defeat, a vulnerable defense, and their own uncertainty at QB, I think it adds to a recipe for a UCLA win.

And it will be perfectly Dorrellian, Lavidian, whatever you want to call it for us to win that game. It will lead Brian Dohns of the world writing breathlessly about how Dorrell showed up his detractors, blah, blah, blah BS we were subjected to after Lavin's meaningless wins against Stanford.

It will also probably lead to more hype about DeWayne Walker. Speaking of whom we will start with taking a lock at the matchup between his unit and Tedford's offense (all numbers via the Pac-10 site):

Bruin Defense v. Bear Offense

Bruin Defense 07 Rank Per Game Bear Offense 07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense 3 81.7 Rushing Offense 3 196.2
Pass Defense 5 242.8 Pass Offense 5 238.5
Pass Eff. Defense 4 116.3 Pass Eff. Offense 4 132.0
Total Defense 4 324.5 Total Offense 3 434.7
Scoring Defense 4 23.8 Scoring Offense 3 37.5

I think it will be interesting to see who Tedford starts. And if Longshore starts this Saturday, it could actually work in favor of UCLA defense. You see Longshore is not really a mobile QB. He has been making the best out an awesome set of WRs, couple of skilled backs, an athletic OL, and the play calling of Tedford. However, I do believe the kid is susceptible to pressure, and can be rattled if we come at him with some good blitz packages. And the folks at kind of see what I what I am seeing:

Why UCLA might win:Save for the Utah debacle in Week 3, the Bruins defense has been rock solid all year, holding opponents to an average of 23 points and 324 yards a game, while consistently making plays for negative yards. Cal is not the same offense when RB Justin Forsett isn’t running well, which will be tough to do against a UCLA rush defense that’s No. 10 in the country at only 81 yards a game. If Longshore does play, that bum ankle will be a serious liability against Bruce Davis an aggressive Bruins front seven that’ll treat him like a sitting duck. If Longshore can’t go, Riley will be making his first career road start with reduced support from the running game.
It will be interesting to see if Tedford will splice in a Tebow package here in there, taking advantage of Kevin Riley’s mobility in certain (goal line situations).

Regardless, this game is it for DeWayne Walker. We know Dorrell is worthless and he will probably never get a shot at another head coaching position, unless some school has administrators as stupid as Carnesale or as Dalis (entirely possible). But Walker can still salvage some of his market value if he comes up with a perfect scheme in this game to match Tedford’s offensive prowess. And the key will be as notes to stop Cal’s running game:
Aside from penalties and turnovers, we think the key to this game is Cal establishing a running game (#26 in country, 196 per). Cal’s offense is very well balanced (#31, 434 per). They have probably the best receiving corps in the nation (passing O #49, 238 per) and a line that protects its QB very well (#18 in sacks allowed, #35 in tackles for loss allowed). Now, if walk-on freshman QB Kevin Riley starts he could have the jitters starting his first game away and that could lead to turnovers and poor efficiency. Aside from that, if we stop the run decently Cal will have to focus more on the passing game. This is where the game gets interesting. We don’t have the best passing defense (#77, 242 per), but if we stop the run with our rush D (#10, 81 per) it helps our passing D force Cal out of their game, out of their rhythm and comfort zone, and into mistakes and inefficiency. With Riley at QB at the Rose Bowl, that increases our chances of winning.

So, the key to winning this game is stopping the run. Keep an eye on that stat. If Cal has not gained 100 yards rushing through 3 quarters, then you will know we can steal a win!! Anything more than that we will most likely lose. If we keep them under 100 yards rushing for the game, we probably win. So DeWayne Walker and Karl Dorrell need to have a game plan with that in mind. Force Cal to go lopsided with their offense. Crush the run, and make them beat us in the air. If we start sending too many blitzes to affect their air game and get burned with some delays Tedford will take command of this game. Try to hit Riley early to rattle him, sure, but don’t get burned by the run doing it, focus on the run. If turnover margin for either side is +2 or more then this may not hold. Go
Bruins can win this game if it is an ugly defensive battle. And if Walker’s unit can come in and throttle the Cal offense at home, limiting them to less than 20 points, UCLA will have a great shot. Which brings me to the numbers matchup between our joke offense and their mediocre defense:

Bruin Offense v. Bear Defense

Bruin Offense 07 Rank Per Game Bear Defense 07 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense 4 181.0 Rushing Defense 6 125.7
Pass Offense 9 219.8 Pass Defense 8 254.3
Pass Eff. Offense 8 111.0 Pass Eff. Defense 7 121.1
Total Offense 6 400.8 Total Defense 6 380.0
Scoring Offense 5 28.0 Scoring Defense 5 25.5

Like I said this is a matchup between two mediocre units. The key is of course Cowan’s health. But even if he is healthy, I am expecting the clown combination of Dorvell to come up with their protypical run-run-pass scheme, hoping our experienced OL can dominate a Cal defensive line, which hasn’t been all that great against the run. Except for Oregon in which they held the Ducks to 132 yards rushing in Eugene (in perhaps their most impressive victory of the season) they have given up huge chunks of yardage in every other game. As you can see from their numbers their passing defense is not all that great either with numbers that point to them as one of the worst in the Pac-10. Moreover, Cal fans themselves are pointing to their DL as a problem:

--Pass rush, maybe? Oregon State played a great game. The Beavers took advantage of Cal's turnovers, did not let big plays destroy them, and ran the ball when they had to. But come on... maybe just a little bit of pressure on Sean Canfield? Dude came in as one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the country. It might help to force him to move his feet just a little bit. In the second half especially, it seemed like he had a minute in the pocket to throw each pass. There was absolutely, positively, no pass rush. Not even close. I don't want to hear any crap from the coaching staff about how Rulon Davis's injury has been crippling the pass rush. The defensive linemen did a decent job containing Yvenson Bernard, but their inability to do anything positive beyond that makes them the clear culprit of this loss. I don't want to sound arrogant, but if there was a weakness on this team heading into the year, it was the defensive line. These guys have a lot of work to do before they step onto the field at Pasadena. A lot!
I would like to think the UCLA OL has lot more talent the Oregon State one. So, it may not be too unreasonable to expect from our coaches to come up with a scheme (if they suddenly attained any shred if imagination) that would try to overwhelm the Bear DL with a power running game of Bell, Moline, and Markey, and getting Breazell, Johnson, Cowan, and Austin into the mix.

Again you’d think this being a game in which Dorrell might be fighting for his coaching life, he’d come up with something that will show his offense having some kind of pulse. This would not be a bad time to break in our own Tebow package (yes I love what Urban Meyer did with Double T, working him in with Chris Leak) with Osaar Rasshan, if Dorrell really has been working on "fixing things" and disciplining his resources at practice.

Then again as I said above, this is UCLA. And given our history I see karmic stuff coming into equation and propelling us to a "victory" just like we experienced it during the Lavin era. It would mean nothing in terms of the long term big picture, but it would make a lot of sense. And all we will be doing is sit back and lol at all the cultists who will come out the wood work, celebrate a 5-2 (4-0) record, while Dohn, Foster, Simers, and Plaschke’s of the world will wax poetic about Dorrell’s big moment at the Rose Bowl.