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Spaulding Roundup: Remembering Notre Dame & More OL Shuffle

The Friday before taking on a win less Washington program, few of our guys are thinking about the Notre Dame game from last season. Here is Dohn:

"I was telling guys we can't take them lightly because last year Notre Dame was 0-fer and they came in and beat us," UCLA sophomore defensive tackle Brian Price said. "We've got to take these guys way serious."

Price and his team-mates will have to take these guys seriously even though the numbers are not pretty (then again neither are ours):

Washington is 117th (of 119) teams in scoring at 14.7 points per game, 115th in rushing (85.3 ypg), and 113th in total offense (277.8 ypg).

Quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who took over for injured Jake Locker in the fourth game, completes 44.9 percent of his passes and is averaging 148.1 passing yards per game.

He also has four touchdowns and nine interceptions.

"This game there's a lot of pressure because Washington, man, they're a good team," Bruins freshman safety Rahim Moore said. "They are 0 and whatever they are, but I don't believe that. They've got good players on the team. A lot of guys I grew up with here, and a lot of guys I met throughout recruiting and all-star games."

Meanwhile, Washington's defense is last in the nation in passing efficiency (174.25), 116th in scoring (41.3ppg), 115th in rushing (236.4ypg) and 114th in total defense (471.3 ypg).

It doesn’t matter how said Washington’s defensive stats are, we will not go anywhere if our OL continues to struggle. Speaking of the OL CRN sent a message yesterday by announcing that RG Sonny Tevaga is not going to make the trip to Seattle:

Backup right guard Sonny Tevaga was held out of UCLA football practice Thursday and won't be making the trip to Washington for Saturday night's game, as Coach Rick Neuheisel said the sophomore from Compton Dominguez High needs "to reevaluate how important football is in his life."

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Tevaga started the first two games of the season for the Bruins, and he filled in during Saturday's loss to Oregon State when starting guard Nick Ekbatani was injured. Tevaga was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart before Neuheisel's move.

The coach said his handling of Tevaga was "not discipline" but a response to something in Tevaga's "personal area" that requires the player "to do some soul-searching."

I am not surprised by this move at al. If folks want to watch the Oregon State game, they will see how Tevaga got destroyed last Sat night. He was also getting man handled in the first two games of this season. In some ways, when I have been watching this OL this year, it has been giving me a lot of flashback of the combination of Josiah Johnson, Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins in Howland’s first year at UCLA (and it didn’t get that much better his second year with a very raw LM (no R yet in his freshman season)).

I hope for Sonny’s sake he gets it all figured out and determine what he wants to put his mind into. I am rooting for him but he needs to give his best with total focus and determination whatever he commits to at UCLA.

Besides sitting out Tevaga, there has been more shuffle at OL:

He'll move senior Micah Reed back to starting center and says more adjustments are possible based on who's performing at the highest level the rest of the season.

Reed was suspended for last week's loss against Oregon State, and replaced by sophomore Jake Dean.

Asked about his hold on the position, Dean said, "Micah's been getting all the reps. I really don't know. I'm sure the coaches could tell you."

And Neuheisel did, saying, "Jake's been beat up. He's not as strong as Micah."

As the Bruins try to boost a sagging rushing average of 77.8 yards a game and an offense that ranks eighth in the Pacific 10 Conference, Neuheisel said those results demand an alternative strategy.

"We would not be changing the offensive line if we thought staying the course was the right thing to do," he said. "Part of improvement is creating competition."

While RS frosh Mike Harris has emerged as a bright spot in this struggling line:

A 6-foot-5, 305-pound redshirt freshman from Duarte, Harris will make his third consecutive start on Saturday when the Bruins play Washington in Seattle, something he credits to his perseverance this season.

"There is no substitute for hard work and it's paid off," Harris said. "Now there is still a lot more I have to do to be a great offensive tackle.

"I'm just going to play these last three games as hard as I can and gain experience from it. I can go into the off-season knowing what I have to work on, knowing I have to get stronger and faster."

Harris' emergence has been beneficial for the Bruins and their young, inexperienced line. With him in the starting lineup, the Bruins have been able to move Nick Ekbatani from right tackle to right guard, a position he is more comfortable at.

With Jeff Baca cementing himself at left tackle, Harris has also managed to keep Micah Kia, who has struggled with confidence issues and has been a severe liability, on the sidelines.

"I didn't think I would play this year after my ankle injury," Harris said. "I just thought to myself it's going to be a long season and I have to work hard because my team can use a guy like me. I got in there and am doing what I can to help my team win."

The experience and contributions Baca and Harris are providing now will be invaluable for us down the line as this OL gets more reinforcements in the coming season.

For now let’s hope these guys are focused and fired up and take care of business against an emotional senior laden Husky team tomorrow night.