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Friday News & Notes

Seems like it has been a quiet week in Westwood after last weekend’s sobering performance against BYU. I think everyone associated with our program is realizing that if they want to regenerate some of the positive vibes after the Stanford game, they will come out tomorrow with a focused and precision performance and a convincing win in Salt Lake City.

One of the units that is going to be in the spotlight is our wide receivers. Leading into this season, this was arguably the deepest unit, not just on our team, but in the entire conference. And after a great opening weekend against Stanford, the guys came up short dropping passes at the Rose Bowl. This has been a problem in years past as well. This past off season Dorrell apparently ran his WR coach out of town to bring in a high school assistant coach with a criminal past to fix this problem. Here is what Scott is trying to do to fix the problems of our WRs:

UCLA receivers coach Eric Scott gathered his unit on Spaulding Field after a practice earlier this week, and gave them a simple message.

"Good or great?" said Scott, in relaying the cleaned-up version of his speech. "What do you want to be?"

The stern talking-to came after UCLA's receivers dropped five passes in last week's 10-point defeat of BYU, and quickly overshadowed a tremendous start the season a week earlier at Stanford.

Senior Joe Cowan, who caught two touchdown passes against the Cardinal, was the biggest culprit, dropping three balls.

Redshirt freshman Dominique Johnson dropped a pair of passes.

"Football is about consistency, and everyone needs to become more consistent, more focused," Scott said. "Either you want to do it, or you don't. That's the bottom line. These guys are talented. It's just time to step up. It's time to do it."
"Time to step up." "Time to do it." Gee. I feel like I have been hearing that for the last four years. More from the OC Register:
His message was blunt – and directed at their heart.

''I don't think it's the focus or concentration, I think it's just desire and wanting it. You've got to want it,'' Scott said. ''We've been around long enough, we've been playing this game our whole lives. You have to realize that on that field … there's you and the defender. There is nothing else. Either I'm going to win or he's going to win. That's it. There's nothing else. And the quicker we can realize that and the quicker we can make that happen, we're going to be a whole lot better team.
I am sure if you do a little google search, or even search from our posts from the last two years, you will find enough articles in which people around UCLA football were talking up the need for "focus." I seem to recall the same kind of talk after the Rice and Stanford games last year. It gets old. And it is especially telling that its our WRs who continue to have problems, despite having a head coach who apparently buttered his bread in the NFL as "WR coach." Whatever.

In any event, it will not necessarily be our WRs who will be key to our win tomorrow. If UCLA is going to blow out the Utes early tomorrow, they will have to impose their will with the running game. Here is a quick look at Utah numbers:
@ Oregon State

While On Defense:
allowed 24 points
gave up 241 yards (5.5 ypc) rushing
gave up 370 yards total offense

While On Offense:
scored 7 points
generated 196 yards of total offense
rushed for 18 yards
passed for 178 yards

vs Air Force

While On Defense:
allowed 20 points
gave up 334 yards (5.3 ypc) rushing
gave up 390 yards total offense

While On Offense:
scored 12 points
generated 313 yards of total offense
rushed for 73 yards
passed for 240 yards
Bruins in their first two games have rushed for 448 yards with an average of 5.15 ypc. So the key is our running game. Based on the numbers, and given the fact that Utah is playing through so many injuries, UCLA should come out and dominate with its running attack averaging more than 5 ypc. If we come out early and ram the ball down their throats, and create some short yardage situations for Olson in 2nd and 3rd downs, it would put us in a pretty good spot. And by running I don’t mean just the usual vanilla run up the middle crap we saw against BYU in the second half. It would be nice to have (mostly) Bell (supplemented by Markey and Ramirez) go to the outside with some toss sweeps, run a little misdirection, and change up the pace of our running game. And then if Olson can get in rhythm early, we could be in position to dominate this game early and often.

Meanwhile, the Utes are sounding confident:
"We can beat them . . . they are beatable," Utes' linebacker Joe Jiannoni said. "We have that mind-set. They are a beatable team. Everybody has been hopped up in practice. There is definitely a different vibe going around, one that hasn't been here the last two weeks. Maybe the losses are kicking in. Maybe we're just bugged and realize it's time to win."

As for overcoming injuries, including the loss of Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, Jiannoni said, "someone goes down, somebody else has to pick up the rifle and start marching down the field."

Besides Johnson (separated shoulder), the Utes have lost running back Matt Asiata (broken leg), receiver Brent Casteel (knee), receiver A.J. Reilly (knee) and offensive tackle Jason Boone (knee), tight end Colt Sampson (knee), defensive tackle Gabe Long (knee) and linebacker Matt Martinez (knee). All but Sampson were starters.
You’ve to admire their spirit. But it shouldn’t matter. If somehow UCLA loses this game tomorrow, it will be the beginning of the end for Dorrell. The way it is shaping up right now, even a narrow win would be considered as a disappointment heading into the meat of the Pac-10 season.