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Spaulding Roundup: Getting Ready For Mighty BYU

Well it looks like some BYU fans are already looking beyond next weekend’s game against UCLA. They are obviously riding high after yesterday afternoon’s heart stopping win against UDub at Seattle. Notwithstanding the questionable call at the end of the game, they pulled off an impressive victory at a tough Pac-10 venue and we have to give them credit for it.

One of the biggest concerns for UCLA heading into next weekend’s game is to figure out a way to stop Max Hall. He was deadly against the Huskies. He completed 30 of 41 pass attempts for 338 yards, 3 TDs and 1 interception. His job was made easier by the running game of a beastly Unga who punished the Husky defensive line for 136 yards in 23 carries. Unga was setting up Hall with short yardage situations all day and he made the Husky defense pay. The BYU offensive converted on 3rd downs 12 out of 14 times (full box score here). So needless to say there is going to be a lot of pressure on our secondary next Saturday and with that in mind Walker opened up the FS position for competition between Ware and Moore:

"That's good that he's doing that so we can both stay on our toes and continue to work hard, rather than get comfortable and feel good that you're starting," Moore said. "It's a good thing. May the best man win. I don't want anything given to me, and I'm sure (Ware) feels the same."

Both players made their first career starts in last week's win against Tennessee, but Ware did so at strong safety, filling in for Lockett.

Now, Ware is back at a more familiar position.

"You're never promised a position no matter who you are," Ware said. "That's fine."

Settling down the secondary is a key as the Bruins travel to No. 15 BYU on Saturday.

When UCLA beat the Cougars early last season, BYU ran for 44 yards and quarterback Max Hall threw for 391 yards. In the rematch at the Las Vegas Bowl, which the Cougars won, BYU mustered 34 rushing yards, and Hall threw for 231 yards.

Hopefully Lockett can provide a more steady effort at SS and Ware be more comfortable at FS. He didn’t do much to make himself stand out last weekend against Tennessee. In addition to Ware, we will need better efforts from Courtney Viney who found himself out of position a number of times against the Volunteers’ mediocre passing attack. Viney and his team-mates will not be able to get away with the same level of play against the Cougars’ more precise and efficient passing attack.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side in addition to putting together some clock chewing drives, CRN has been trying to get his team to play smart ball keeping field position in mind. As a result Aaron Perez has become a pivotal part of our overall game plan:

You punt. You win.

As coaching rhetoric goes, this hardly ranks with "win one for the Gipper." Still, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel has gone about convincing his team that sending punter Aaron Perez onto the field is not crying uncle.

When Perez casts his punts against blue-gray October sky, victory is at hand . . . really.

"People hear 'punt' and the first thought is, 'Oh we didn't score.' Or, 'we didn't get a first down,' " said Perez, a senior. "But if you have a punter who can help you in the field-position game, you put the defense on the field where it can create some turnovers or back the other team up and make them punt. The field keeps getting shorter and shorter, and you win."

This is a necessary philosophy for the Bruins this season. With an offense going through on-the-job training and a defense that has a hefty resume from the last two seasons, the best option sometimes is to have Perez give things a swift kick. […]

"It's imperative that we make it a long field," Neuheisel said. "With Aaron Perez and his leg, we can do that. As we grow in terms of our explosiveness and our ability to run the ball, we've got to be mindful of field position. So punting is not a bad thing."

Hopefully that lesson now has been totally planted into everyone’s brain after those 4 interceptions in the first half against Tennessee.

Speaking of ball control, Mark Saxon from the OC Register has a write up on WR Taylor Embree, who has the potential to emerge as the next money receiver in a Bruin uniform.  We heard during both spring and fall camp, how Taylor catches everything thrown his way. We saw what that meant during the second half against Tennessee. The offense is going to need Taylor and his team-mates to step up the same way next weekend in Provo and keep racking up first downs so that they can keep the BYU offense off the field.

We will have more on the BYU game. The Cougar fans can keep discussing their team’s rankings after its victory over UCLA, but here on BN we just need to focus on how we can remain competitive against the mighty BYU.