Homecoming Saturday. Let's get the day going.
Bruins are off to their worst start (2-4) since 1994 when they started the season 2-6. The tough start this season was not unexpected here in Bruin Nation. However, it’s evident from the way our team has played in last few weeks since the disaster in Provo that they are not going away without a fight. Brian Dohn has a good read in the Daily News today, which accounts how the Bruins haven’t given up on getting to the post-season:
"Coach (Neuheisel) puts the standings up every day, and the best team in the conference is 3-1 right now and still has to play a lot of people," Bruins center Jake Dean said. "You win the rest of the games, it's going to come down to two losses to be tied for first place. It shows he still believes in us, that we can accomplish our goal of winning the Pac-10 championship, although I'm pretty sure no one else in the country has that belief."
And, yes, Dean understands there may have been some chuckling and coffee lattes spat out at that statement.
"You have to have something to play for," Dean said. "If you don't have something to play for, you might as well not play the game at all."
Well to get to the post season, Bruins will need to 4-2 rest of this season, which is a tall order considering some of the competition that is coming up in next few weeks. However, CRN is making sure the focus remains on Stanford:
"That would be a terrific thing to accomplish," Neuheisel said. "To be able to go 4-2, or better, in the second half of the season would be a great thing for these youngsters and our coaching staff alike, so that'd be terrific. But to do that you have to win one at a time, so we just have to focus on Stanford."
We have been talking about Stanford all week. We have specifically noted Stanford being as one of the most if not the most physical team in the conference. Walker noted the change in Stanford’s culture under Harabaugh (in the DN report today):
UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, the architect of the 2006 defense that limited Stanford to 166yards of offense, said coach Jim Harbaugh has done wonders in changing Stanford's attitude and approach. The Cardinal is 4-3 (3-1 Pac-10), and ran for at least 200 yards four times. A week ago, Stanford rushed for 286 yards in beating Arizona.
"I give credit to the head coach. I think he's done a good job changing the culture, and you see it," Walker said. "They've got three good running backs. You can just see it. They've changed the culture. I think their backs are physical."
Harwell, UCLA's captain and senior defensive tackle, said both backs are a primary concern for the Bruins, who struggled against the run at Oregon last week, allowing 323 yards on the ground thanks to shoddy tackling.
In reviewing film this week, Harwell noted Kimble's speed and his ability to hit fifth gear in one step, something that seemed absent in previous years.
"He is stupid fast," Harwell said. "He is a great, great running back."
Then there is Gerhart, the Norco High product who was last week's Pac-10 player of the week.
Averaging 91.6 yards per game, Gerhart, 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, is a bruiser between the tackles and likes to dole out punishment while running downhill.
"This is going to be a huge challenge for us," Harwell said. "It's going to be a tall order for us.
"Wow, those backs, they opened our eyes. I can't even put it into words. This is a fully equipped offense."
Hope Harwell and co will have their eyes wide open and ready for Gerhart and Kimble coming at them all afternoon long. For the Bruins to win this game today, they will have to keep Stanford under 200 yards rushing and force them to win it with their passing game.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Chris Foster from the LA Times notes KC’s opportunity to take advantage of a vulnerable Stanford passing defense:
The Cardinal has given up more than 300 yards passing three times this season. Meanwhile, the Bruins and quarterback Kevin Craft have put on a few aerial shows this season -- the fourth quarter against Tennessee, cameo appearances through the Washington State game, and the second half against Oregon.
This could be a harmonic convergence that pleases UCLA.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft needs to put four quarters together: Stanford is going to gang up on the run and try to force Craft to win the game. For much of the season, the Cardinal secondary looked vulnerable, but last weekend it did a masterful job containing Arizona's top targets, Rob Gronkowski and Mike Thomas, and didn't allow quarterback Willie Tuitama to throw a touchdown pass. Stanford also brings a lot of blitzes (see 19 sacks on the season). Craft has had fits and starts of success, and he seems to go in and out of rhythm throughout a game. He was sacked six times by Oregon and he threw a lot of ill-advised passes that were dropped by Ducks defenders. If the Bruins are going to defend their home turf, Craft needs to make plays consistently.
Well good news for KC is that he will probably have TA ready for action this afternoon. Per LAT’s report TA is “expected to play today,” which is great news. The reports also has a nice feature on Chane Moline fitting in really well at FB and giving Chow multiple options (with his pass catching ability) from the backfield.
For those heading out to the Rose Bowl, enjoy the Home Coming Saturday. Let's get a win.