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Spaulding Roundup: Game Notes & Pom Pom's Humanitarian (Jersey) Gesture

We will start our Tuesday roundup focusing on the positive. Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise has a report on Bruin Defense, which has been rolling in its last two games:

"Right now we're rolling on defense," senior tackle Brigham Harwell said. "These young guys are learning the defense and are comfortable. We're clicking."

Despite having three first-year starters in the secondary, the Bruins' pass defense is second to only USC's in Division I-A, allowing just 158 yards per game, and the overall defense has been even better in the past two games, allowing just 135 yards to Washington and 122 at Arizona State. The totals were the lowest by a UCLA opponent since Arkansas managed just 42 in the 1989 Cotton Bowl.

Though UCLA has allowed 320 points, a great deal of those have been the result of turnovers and short fields created by a lackluster offense that has handcuffed its defense too often. Despite that, UCLA is ranked 35th in total defense.

"This Saturday, hopefully our defense can do the same thing," Harwell said. "Our defense is going to have to come on strong and play our best game this year."

That won't be easy against a USC offense that has found its groove. But like the 2006 matchup at the Rose Bowl, a 13-9 Bruins victory, this game could come down to a defensive slugfest and be a low-scoring affair.

While the goal is to turn Saturday into a low scoring game, Harwell and his team-mates know too well playing Southern Cal will be a little different than taking on Washington and ASU:

Harwell figures that he and his teammates are playing their best football, understanding defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker's schemes and executing their assignments.

But they also know that playing well against Washington and Arizona State doesn't guarantee success against the Trojans, who have the second-ranked offense in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"They're a monster," Harwell said.

To kill the monster Harwell and co will have to generate all out pressure on the trigger man. The game plan for Saturday will not be any different from 13-9, when Walker’s defense throttled the vaunted Trojan offense, by pounding Booty all afternoon.

The key for our defense will be to disrupt Sanchez by hammering him to the Rose Bowl turf all afternoon on Saturday. Sacking him will be gravy but more importantly they will have to make sure that he doesn’t get in any kind of rhythm. In addition, while we are being aggressive on defense, it will be imperative for our guys to stay disciplined and not rack up penalties like they were doing against Arizona State.

On the other side of the ball, the numbers aren’t pretty:

UCLA's lone motivation in pulling one of the great upsets in 77-game history of the series is pride. The Bruins (4-7) were eliminated from bowl consideration by the loss to Arizona State, and need a win to avoid its worst season since the 1989 team finished 3-7-1.

But this is a statistical mismatch when pitting USC's vaunted defense against UCLA's hollow offense.

The Trojans lead the nation in total defense (210.6 ypg) and points allowed per game (7.8ppg). UCLA is 110th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense (294.7 ypg) and 107th in scoring (18.6 ppg), and Arizona State scored four defensive touchdowns against the Bruins last week.

That was from Brian Dohn who has been full of positive energy this week. Again, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Trojan’s defensive game plan. They will force UCLA to win the game with Craft.

What could be interesting is that Pete Carroll is arrogant enough that he could dare UCLA to beat the Trojan offense without shaking up his defensive scheme (why should he … it has been working for him the whole season). Given the pathetic state of our OL, not sure Trojans even need to stack the LOS to stop our running game. So we will see what happens … could be amusing to watch if Carroll dares to Chow beat his offense straight up.

And Carrol is already sending signals that he will show no respect for this rivalry on Saturday. So he posted on his fansite yesterday that how he changed his mind on a whim and decided that his guys will be wearing home jerseys this Saturday. Wolfie from the Daily News has this on Carroll’s flip-flop w/o conferring with Neuheisel:           

Carroll's maneuver was an about-face from comments he made last week and Sunday night about the possibility of wearing cardinal jerseys.

"I don't know anything about that," he said Sunday. […]

He said he also brought the idea up to UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel but admitted the pair had not spoken since August and it was solely Carroll's idea to do it now.

Uh hum. He is such a Humanitarian.

He has so much respect for this “rivalry” that he decided to change his mind re. home jerseys without conferring with Neuheisel, putting him on the spot. Yeah. Okay.

It’s amusing to see Trojans to go ga ga over this jersey shenanigans, when they showed no interest in doing this while we were beating them up doing our 8 game winning streak.

Make no mistake about it. What Carroll is doing here is not some kind of grand gesture but a total disrespect of UCLA. This will just complement “own the Rose Bowl” rhetoric coming out of their mouths in coming days. They will use this PR stunt to amplify that rhetoric on the recruiting front.

Carroll made this move because right now he is in a state of mind that is well beyond confidence. He is basically telling the world that his team and his players can wear their home jerseys in our house and beat us with their hands tied behind their back. As I said above, we never heard about such concern for tradition and pageantry from the Trojans during our 8 game winning streak.

Whatever. At this point Neuheisel should call Pom Pom's bluff and agree to give up one TO (in each half) and then call on Carroll to do the same next season at the Rose Bowl. But what Carroll did on Sunday w/o conferring with Neuheisel is a total sign of disrespect.

Anyway, it is their time now. They are clicking on all cylinders and this is par for the course for an out of control, unchecked program, which hasn’t been held accountable by the NCAA, Pac-10 or the traditional media. Let them have fun this week just like the Yankees and their fans were pouring it on the Red Sox Nation during their better days.

What goes around, comes around.