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Spaulding Roundup: Working To Get A "W"

We have talked about how BYU and UCLA are very familiar with each other’s schemes given the two matchups from last season (here and here). DeWayne Walker hit the same themes yesterday and emphasized the need for putting in some new wrinkles in the defensive game plan (and adjusting to different looks he may being seeing from the BYU side). From Chris Foster in the LA Times:

"We're getting down to the bare minimum on schemes," he said. "It will be an interesting game in terms of the chess match. I'm sure they are going to look at the things we did well against them, just like we've looked at what they did well to see if we can eliminate it."

The main problem the Bruins have faced against Brigham Young is quarterback Max Hall, who completed 51 of 87 passes for 622 yards and four touchdowns in the two games last season. Hall nearly rallied the Cougars from a 20-0 deficit in the regular-season game, getting them within a field goal before losing, 27-17.

The Bruins did a better job on Hall in the second game, holding him to 231 yards passing by using more blitzes and man-to-man coverage.

"I'm sure they are going to have some wrinkles for us and we may have a few for them," Walker said. "The bottom line is going to be who can adjust the quickest once we find out each other's wrinkles."

The Bruins did have success in both games against the run. BYU had 44 yards rushing in the first game and 34 yards in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"I just don't think you can sit back and defend these guys," Walker said.

Walker probably caught the Washington game from this past weekend when the Husky defense mostly sat back and let Max Hall methodically shred them for the whole afternoon. If the Bruins want to stay competitive in Provo they will need to bring pressure from somewhere not allowing Hall to get in any kind of rhythm.

Meanwhile, over on the offensive side coaches are continuing with their tinkering of the OL:

The tinkering continued with UCLA's offensive line as left guard Darius Savage practiced with the first team and Scott Glicksberg, who started against Tennessee, was with the second unit.

Overall, it was not a stellar practice for the offensive line.

"They weren't terrific (Monday), but I just believe in them," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "They just have to understand that they are not at a place with the luxury of taking a day off. They have to continue to fight, scratch, claw to get better."

Hopefully the OL can build on its performance from Saturday. While their pass protection was adequate, obviously they have no where to go but up in terms of getting the running game going. I think the issues facing the OL are probably correctable. So hopefully the continued tinkering by the coaches will show some dividends against the Cougars this weekend.

At least the one thing players are feeling good about their offense is the calm and poise of our young quarterback:

UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft won more than just a football game last week against Tennessee. He won over his teammates.

“We know we have a guy out there who's going to compete until the last horn,” receiver Dominique Johnson said. “It does a lot for our confidence. We're not worried about it. Confidence is not a factor for us anymore. We know it's there and we all believe Kevin is the leader of this team.”

Kevin is coming along thanks to the coaching of Norm Chow, who coached at BYU for 27 seasons:

Chow, UCLA's offensive coordinator, will return to BYU this weekend when he guides UCLA's offense against the 18th-ranked Cougars. Chow worked on BYU's staff from 1973 to 1999 and during that time helped direct some of college football's most prolific offenses.

But following Monday's practice, Chow was curt when asked about returning to BYU for the second time. He did so once as an assistant at USC.

"There is nothing to it," Chow said. "It's been such a long time that there is a lot of water under that bridge. It's another game, it really is. I don't want nothing more than that."

Chow left BYU for North Carolina State before going on to USC and the Tennessee Titans before coming to Westwood this season. He is one of two UCLA coaches who will be making a return to Provo. UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker coached at BYU in 1994, working alongside Chow.

"Norm is a poker player," Walker said. "He is not going to give in to his true feelings, but I am sure it's going to be rewarding for him to go back into that stadium. I think it's going to be a warm moment for him, but he is like me and wants to go in there and get a 'W.'

"Norm has a lot of respect for that program and I know going back it's going to be special for him. He knows he is a ball coach and he is coaching for UCLA now."

As mentioned above, Walker like Chow also spent time in Provo as an assistant coach. Couple that with his experiences from last season, he knows that program’s past and present as well as anyone at Spaulding. So it’s no surprise when CRN mentioned yesterday that he is going to have Walker address the team about playing BYU on Thursday. These coaches are doing everything they can to get that “W.”