So the first thing I did this am before reading through game day clips was to check the weather. Looks like it will be a classic November night in Seattle. Temperature should be in the 40s with a slight chance of rain. I am going to bet if we see some rain, it will be that light rain/drizzle stuff. Something our players should be able to handle.
The key matchup for tonight is going to be between the Huskies defense and Bruin offense. Here is Molly Yanity from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
The Huskies defense is weak. It ranks last in the Pac-10, 114th out of the nation's 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and has allowed 471.33 yards per game this season. The latter is a number that will blow away the Huskies' previous season worst, posted last year with 446 yards per game.
But that doesn't mean it can't match up with a poor Bruins offense.
Weakness against weakness will square off at the line of scrimmage. Both the Bruins offensive line and the Huskies defensive line boast young, inexperienced players.
Nine players have started on the Bruins line this season. Seven made their first career starts. Neuheisel also has been forced to use seven combinations in nine games.
"There just isn't a great deal of experience, and programs sometimes go through that, so we're enduring it and hopefully we'll benefit from it as time goes on," Neuheisel said.
The Huskies, meanwhile, have found little continuity up front, using five starting combinations on the defensive line of scrimmage.
Getting to the quarterback has been a major issue -- the Huskies have just seven sacks. The emergence of senior linebacker Chris Stevens could change the Huskies' momentum in that area.
I think the key for the UCLA offense will be to give Craft some time and pound the Huskies with our running game. Once again, I will get my weekly Saturday pleading out of the way by asking coaches to give Coleman more carries. It seems like this could be a great opportunity for him to come through with a good game given his running style. I am going to assume Bell will start and get the carries early on. But I think it would be worth it to give Coleman good amount of reps so that we can keep Bell fresh for a while, and keep pounding at them with a diverse attack. From the Huksy pov, they will need to generate pressure on Craft, which might be feasible given the status of our OL. Needless to say, it should be interesting and right now I don’t really know how it will play out.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, this is a big night for UCLA defense. They have been playing really well last two games until the walls caved in late in the fourth. I think this is a game they will have to hang in there for an entire four quarters. The LAT report this am brought up the consistent play of our secondary which might have an opportunity to get some TOs today:
On the other side of the ball, the UCLA defense has played well against the pass, surrendering only 178.1 yards a game -- cornerback Alterraun Verner ranks fifth in the conference in passes defended -- but the secondary has not been so good on interceptions with only six.
That could change against Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who has struggled in the weeks since starter Jake Locker suffered a broken thumb. The redshirt freshman has completed less than 45% of his passes and has had nine passes intercepted in eight games.
BTW I am going to assume some people will immediately point to Norris and Lockett and argue that our DBs haven’t been consistent. I think it is fair to point out that Norris has had some tough moments (which includes couple of key break downs last weekend) and Lockett has had his share of trouble, but over all I think this group of secondary is starting to coming along nicely. One of the key reasons have been the Tony Dye settling in as a nickel back.
As for the mindset going into this game, I liked what Reggie Carter had to say:
"We better not lose this game," linebacker Reggie Carter said. "They are 0-9, but we are 3-6. We are playing just as bad as they are. I wouldn't say we think we are better than them so we have to win. Noooo ... we haven't won a game and we are playing bad right now.
"Coaches preach that you can't underestimate your opponent and you have to be careful. With us, you don't even have to say that, because we haven't been winning. We're at the bottom of the Pac-10 just like they are. We're fighting for a victory just as much as they are."
Hopefully rest of our guys are channeling RC. I love the kid’s passion for this game.
We will end with two quick references to the coaching storyline. Dohn reports that there is a sense of apathy in the Washington campus, which includes some CRN supporters still wishing he was still coaching up there:
"I think he should be cheered, and I wish he was still the coach here," said John, a longtime Huskies fan (who asked that his last name not be used), sitting at the Lockspot Cafe, made famous from the "Deadliest Catch" series on the Discovery Channel. "I think he got a raw deal."
Meanwhile, on the other side it will be an emotional experience for 19 outgoing Huskies seniors (who were recruited by CRN) who will try to pull out a win for Willingham’s last home game at Husky Stadium:
Willingham will coach his final game at Husky Stadium on Saturday. He is 6-19 at home, lately playing before a half-full stadium.
"When you look out and you are coming to your final one in this stadium, you have a lot of thoughts," Willingham said. "I don't know what all of them will be at this time but obviously it will be emotional for me also.
Let’s hope our guys are ready. The kick off is not till 7:15 pm PST. So we will put up a pre game thread around 10 am PST, where you can hang out and follow other football actions this Saturday.