Let's start this Tuesday with an injury update:
An MRI exam on linebacker Reggie Carter's left knee confirmed a minimal medial collateral ligament sprain. Carter and Korey Bosworth (ribs) are likely to play against Cal on Saturday, though technically they are on day-to-day status.
Also, Johnathan Franklin (ankle) and Glenn Love (ankle) were supposed to give it a shot at practice yesterday. Didn't see any update on their situations as to whether they were able to give it a go. Milton Knox was out with flu on Saturday. He is supposed to be back at Spaulding this week.
As for what team needs to work on consistency is the operative word in Westwood this week:
"It'd be a long list - it's not always just one thing. We need to get consistent play from our quarterback. Kevin, now being back in and having some more game experience under his belt, we'll get more. We need to make sure that when we call plays that they're blocked correctly. We can't miss assignments and watch them come back and haunt us. We've got to make sure that we're coaching great fundamentals and remembering all the while that we're young.
However, Neheisel is not using being young as an excuse and also making sure the coaches including himself bear responsibility for how the team plays and prepares every week:
"We can do better as a coaching staff. I do not want to shirk responsibility from us. It's too easy to say, 'Well, we're just too young.' We have enough to be successful. We've proven we can be successful. We need to play within ourselves and be efficient."
In terms of the QB play CRN is sticking with Prince but keeping Brehaut in the mix. More on that and other notes after the jump.
As mentioned above Neuheisel is staying with Prince as the starter but keeping Brehaut in the picture:
"I've been pretty clear that I want to keep looking to get Richard in the game. Kevin was not at his best. We weren't moving the ball. Sometimes just a change of pace is a good thing. It looked to me like a great spot to get Richard the chance. I'm not trying to create this controversy. I know it's a favorite of your profession, but no, Kevin Prince is the guy we chose, and we'll get Kevin Prince the chance to play this week. But I still want to keep Richard on the come."
I think it is clear what he is doing at this point. He is keeping the heat on both QBs so that they are competing hard at Spaulding Field. I think that is a healthy situation and given the comments we have seen from Prince this week it's clear that the players are getting it in terms of what they need to do to get on the field and hold to their starting assignments.
Going back to the point of consistency, it's an issue that our defense needs to address as well. While we have collectively directed lot of our frustration at our offense in last two weeks we can't forget about the breakdowns we had on defense in certain key moments hurting our chances to win the game:
"I thought defensively, we played terrifically probably 90 percent of the time," Neuheisel said. "Ten percent of the time ... Chuck Bullough said seven plays led to 170 yards of offense. Most of the times it's because we didn't tackle and wrap up. That's a huge lesson as we go into this game. If you don't get your arms around them, they'll make you pay, and pay dearly."
The Bruins have not made the opposition pay, both short and long, since defeating Kansas State 23-9 in Week 3. They've stalled when they need to surge, they've come up just short when they needed to get just a foot more, and they've looked every bit their age.
"Sometimes we move along scheme-wise and try to take what we see are opportunities, but are we ready to execute that stuff?" Neuheisel said.
"Sometimes when you've had more experience, you can point to a time earlier in a guy's career. Now, we don't have that luxury. But at the end of the day, it's always about execution."
Bruin defense gave up more than 150+ yards to LaMichael James this past weekend. While James has a great future ahead of him as a Pac-10 running back, at this stage of his career Best is way more dangerous. He is the kind of running back, who has the ability to single handedly dominate and embarrass the Bruin defense. So they will not have the luxury to take any plays off with sloppy and lazy tackling because just 3 to 5 plays here and there when Best rips of huge runs, will put the game out of our reach.
Honestly right now I have no idea what to expect from our football team this next weekend. One thing we can count on is that the Bears will come out with emotion and try to save their season. This is it for them. If the Bears some how lose this coming weekend, it will not only be a long season for them, it will intensify the discussions up North about Tedford's long term future in Strawberry Canyon (which is a little surreal given the job the guy has done putting together a good program and rebuiling it from sad Holmoe days). So they are going to come out with a desperate sense of urgency with the intetion of blasting the Bruins out of the gate and taking out their frustrations from last two weeks.
The question for us is whether not only the Bruins will be able to match that intensity but also play the smart and consistent football we saw in flashes during first three games of the season (or arguably for 50 mins this past weekend at the Rose Bowl). A positive answer this weekend at the Rose Bowl will do wonders for Neheisel's second year in Westwood.