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Spaulding Roundup: Eye On The Cougars

As the Bruins look to pivot from Fresno State and start preparing for Washington State, they find themselves preparing for an opponent, which is easy to over look. Bruins need win to stem their 3 game losing streak and they will get an opportunity to get that done against a struggling football team this weekend. However, for CRN and his troops to get a win they will need to bring the same effort and focus in practice they gave last game week heading into the Fresno State game. Brian Dohn reports on Bruins, who are looking for a win against a struggling Washington State:

"Winning is always justification for the effort," Neuheisel said. "So, yeah, we need a win badly. But we're going to get the effort. We'll keep pounding until the door breaks down."

That door should be flattened by halftime. UCLA has been outscored by a 126-41 margin during its three-game losing streak, but finds itself a 19-point favorite, or two more points than the Bruins are averaging per game.

"We just need a win," UCLA senior tailback Kahlil Bell said. "I think the effort has always been there. I think we play hard. But once we turn this thing around and start clicking, I think it's going to boost our confidence. We've got a lot of young guys."

Under first-year coach Paul Wulff, the Cougars' only win came against Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) Portland State. Their losses are to Oklahoma State (39-13), California (66-3), Baylor (45-17) and Oregon (63-14).

Washington State ranks 117 th (of 119) in scoring defense (44.4 ppg), 118 th in rushing defense (269 ypg), 106 th in total defense (436 ypg), 118 th in turnover margin (minus-2.6 per game), 92 nd in rushing offense (120.8 ypg), 96 th in total offense (322.4), 103 rd in scoring offense (19 ppg) and 113 th in sacks allowed (3 per game).

Despite those numbers, it will be absolutely foolish for this Bruin team and us to look past Washington State. Chris Foster from the LAT gives us a jolting reminder of our recent brutal history v. WSU:

"I would hope that the guys on our team, having been on the other side of the coin, realize they can't pay attention to that stuff," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We'll make very sure that it is about us, and us improving."

While prognosticators are leaning the Bruins' way, history is on the side of the Cougars. Washington State has won six of its last seven games against UCLA, including the last three played at the Rose Bowl.

But this season, the Cougars have been outscored, 213-47, in their losses.

"Anyone who gets caught up in that stuff is just fooling themselves," Bell said. "We were a huge underdog against Tennessee. Look what happened."

Speaking of Bell, he is going to look for little more action this coming weekend. There is a pretty amusing note in the OC Register re why CRN took the cautious approach with Kahlil:

Bell carried 20 times for 73 yards in the Bruins' 36-31 loss, his first game action since suffering a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of UCLA's opener four weeks ago. But only two of those carries came after halftime.

During a Monday news conference, Coach Rick Neuheisel said he didn't want to push his starting tailback too hard once Bell intimated in the second half his ankle was sore.

“Kahlil's kind of like that guy from the Monty Python movies who gets his arm cut off and says it's a flesh wound,” Neuheisel said. “He'll tell you he can go.”

LOL at Monty Python reference but it pretty much gets to the point.

Speaking of on point, I will end with this quote from DeWayne Walker, which appeared in the Daily Bruin yesterday:

“It’s unfortunate that this team couldn’t have enjoyed a victory today,” defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. “I take full responsibility. It’s unfortunate, but our offense got better today, and I feel bad we couldn’t help them.”

I have been reading some interesting discussion re Walker in the threads. I understand why some folks are concerned about the defense three games into the season and are not sold on Walker’s defensive schemes. However, at the same time I also believe there is strong merit to the argument that we need to wait at least till the end of next season to assess the data points on some of the talented recruits Walker and his staff has attracted to Westwood this past two seasons.

For the short term though, Washington State presents a golden opportunity for Walker’s defense and the entire team, to improve upon the positives from last two weekends. Let’s hope they can get it done and continue to stay on the path of improvement this Saturday. However, the trick is going to be to prepare this week with the same intensity they prepared for the games against Tennessee and Washington State. It would be deadly to look past this Cougars team, no matter how much they have been struggling this season.