We have been expecting some defensive shakeups this week at practice. Yesterday it became official. While Brett Lockett is holding on to this starting SS spot (for now), Walker is going to try out Glenn Love at the same position this week. From the LA Times:
"We gave Glenn Love a look this week and he's done OK," Walker said. "I think you've got to put him out there. Just like anything, unless you give a guy an opportunity, you never know what he can do."
Lockett wasn't alone in struggling against the Ducks' spread offense, but he had more than a few spotlight moments to relive while reviewing the game tape.
"It's about making plays," Walker said. "We feel like we've put him in position to do so, and it's not like he's not making plays. But we want him to make all his plays. There have just been times that he hasn't. We're not going to give up on him. But he understands we need more production out of him."
"I have to show coach Walker I can play consistently," Lockett said. "Just little things here and there so he doesn't have anything to say about it. That's what he expects out of me.
"The open-field tackling is probably the hardest thing in football to do. Playing safety, sometimes you feel like you're out there on an island. You're scared that if I miss a tackle, then it's a touchdown. You've got to have the mind-set where you've got to go get the guy."
Love, who is 6 feet 4, 207 pounds, can give the Bruins a stronger presence against the run. Stanford averages 184 yards rushing a game.
"Tackling is my strength," Love said. "I have to go out there and play physical. I may need a little more work on coverage but tackling is key."
Tackling is going to be a huge key against a Stanford offense this weekend which runs a bread and butter, offense featured by a power runner such as Toby Gerhart. According to Reggie Carter the Bruin defense is looking forward to the challenge:
[D]efensive coordinator DeWayne Walker chalked up a lot of the Bruins' problems last week to Oregon's ability to spread the field and force defenders to tackle in open space. This week, they should have the ability to gang up on the Stanford ball carriers.
"I'm looking forward to Stanford's offense," Carter said.
Hopefully Carter will be better prepared this week because by his own admission he wasn’t well prepared last weekend.
On the other side of the ball, Norm Chow talked about the need for Bruin offense to get off to a good start:
The Bruins have scored one offensive touchdown (against Fresno State) in the first quarter this season, which equals the same number scored by special teams (blocked punt) and the defense (fumble recovery).
"We need to start faster, we need to be more aggressive coming out early," UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "We need to be more in tune early. It was eight series before we put points up (at Oregon). I don't think you can say, `We need to do this.' We just need to get better overall."
Chow and his offense might have the services of Austin on Saturday, who CRN thinks will able to play. They will get Everett back, who is determined to return even if it entails playing through pain. From the OC Register:
Neuheisel expects leading receiver Terrence Austin to be limited Saturday because of a sprained neck, but Neuheisel got good injury news this week.
Senior Marcus Everett is ready to return, six weeks after dislocating his right big toe in the opener.
Everett said he felt rusty at Tuesday's practice, but that his route-running and speed returned during Wednesday's practice. At last, he is able to practice with manageable pain.
"It's definitely a painful injury with your toe," Everett said. "You feel pain like every movement you make, walking, waking up, running, cutting. Having this type of injury lets me know how important the toe is."
If he starts, Everett would be one of three senior starters on offense.
Props to Everett for toughing it out. While Everett and Austin are battling through injuries, Embree is making most of his opportunity he is getting in his first year at UCLA. Dohn has the profile on the son of former Bruin assistant coach.
We are going to need Embree and rest of the offense step up on Saturday. As I mentioned last night, it will not be a surprise if Stanford like rest of Bruin opponents this season force Bruins to win the game with their passing game. Consider the Cardinal have the worst passing defense in the conference, hopefully Craft and co will answer the challenge and make them pay by getting off to a fast start.