Not sure how I can follow up the excitement around Mr. Smith's decision to come to Howlandwood this morning. I will give it a try. The timing of his announcement was a perfect convergence during the game week sandwiched between two Washington schools. Not only are we feeling good about what transpired last weekend at the Rose Bowl, now all on a sudden we have additional adrenaline shot (even though this wasn't a total surprise) heading into the second exhibition Ben Ball game tonight (and oh BTW Concordia apparently beat UCI last night in their second exhibition game). Let's hope we can keep the good vibes going around BN thanks to the state of Washington all the way into next weekend.
Washington State's football team are hurting again this season. They are streaking in the wrong direction. Here is the "inside slant" from Sportsline.com which accounts what transpired for the Cougars in their last game at Arizona, which somewhat encapsulated their season to date:
Washington State won the toss but decided to defer its decision, and the Wildcats returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, beginning an onslaught that saw Arizona take a 21-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.
From there, it was the same old story, which has become exceedingly redundant for Washington State fans, as the Cougars never got back in the game. Their lone score came midway through the fourth quarter after Arizona led 48-0 and had emptied its bench.
Washington State is now 1-8 overall, 0-6 in Pac-10 play, and has lost every conference game by at least 13 points, and all but one by at least 21.
"They opened with that kickoff, and it's hard to open the game when you are down seven," linebacker Andy Mattingly told The Spokesman-Review.
Not that it likely would have mattered much in the long run, as the Cougars were again completely dominated despite Arizona going conservative pretty early on.
Arizona outgained Washington State 471-185, including a 294-59 edge in rushing.
Cougars are also banged up. They lost their starting QB Jeff Tuel (who is a freshman BTW) in their last game and his status is up in air during this game week. Here was the update from the Spokeman-Review yesterday:
"He’s sore today, but (there was) very little swelling, which is a real positive," coach Paul Wulff said Sunday. "He had to get an MRI today to see if there was anything going on more than they anticipated."
Tuel, who is still on crutches, was injured in the second quarter of the Cougars’ 48-7 loss to Arizona on Saturday, a defeat that dropped WSU’s record to 1-8, 0-6 in the Pac-10.
The freshman was trying to scramble when linebacker Xavier Kelley caught him from behind. As Tuel went down, he slightly dislocated his kneecap, suffering what is known as a subluxation, in which the kneecap is pulled laterally from its usual path.
"It’s just wait and see," said Wulff, who expects to know the MRI exam results today. "We’ll see what happens tomorrow and on Tuesday."
Tuel has done ok since he took over at the QB spot this season, completing 71 of 121 passes (58.7 percent completion rate), 6 TDs and 5 ints. If he cant go this weekend, sophomore Marshall Lobbestale will take his spot who has completed 56 of his 116 attempts, throwing for 3 TDs and 5 picks.
Tuel is not the only injury concern for the Cougars:
[Q]uarterback isn’t the only area of injury concern for Wulff this week. The Cougars lost two safeties Saturday and played the second half with Myron Beck, who has played mostly linebacker this season, filling in deep.
Wulff is hoping usual starting strong safety Chima Nwachukwu will be able to return from his sprained ankle.[...]
Kicker Nico Grasu (quadriceps pull) and left tackle Tyson Pencer (ankle sprain) will probably miss this week, replaced by Kevin Rooney and Steven Ayers, respectively.
So they are not in great shape. However, I wouldn't get overly confident if I were UCLA. As mentioned yesterday they are going to look at this game as their last chance of getting a victory at home. That place has been the venue of one Bruin nightmare after another in recent years (except for the miracle in 2005). Bruins have injury issues of their own and concerns around their defensive unit which will require total focus and concentration of the entire team heading into Saturday.
Looking though Washington's stats for this season it instantly becomes clear the kind of struggle they have experienced the entire season. However, there is something we all have to be mindful as UCLA fans. Our run defense right now is atrocious. It's embarrassing really. UCLA's rushing "defense" is crrently ranked 78th in the nation and 8th in the conference. We are giving up almost 157 yards on the ground per game and have gotten gashed repeatedly in recent weeks (still cannot figure out why Sark didn't stick with the ground attack against UCLA).
Our LBs are struggling. Reggie Carter is playing hurt and hasn't been the same. Akeem Ayers is still having problem with overpursuit. Bosworth is playing his heart out but he can only do so much. So I can see a scenario in which WSU will attempt to turn this into a ball control game with RB Dwight Tardy. Does any one remeber what Dwight Tardy did to UCLA last time we went up to Pullman? Here is a reminder:
Cougar running game huge in UCLA win (via KXLY)
Yeah, he tore up that legendary Dewayne Walker defense for 214 yards on 37 carries. It was ugly and pathetic. Tardy is having a so so season this year gaining 321 yards in 69 carries. Those are still respectable numbers as he is averaging more than 4 yards per carry. To put it in perspective. Tardy while gaining 214 yards against Walker's defense in 2007, had about 462 yards in his previous 7 games (poor kid suffered an ACL injury in 51 yard TD run in the final mintue of our game).
Given our history in Pullman our defense better be ready for Tardy an co. Tardy has been coming on somewhat strong (at least per game stats). He rushed for 45 yards in 4 carries against Arizona, which followed a 73 yard rushing effort (in 8 carries) against the Irish. I know what you are thinking. It's the Irish. However, we don't have standing to make fun of the Irish defense, given how ours have performed in recent weeks.
So are going to need our guys to come out and get in rhythm offensively to take control of this game. The reports from Spauling are encouraging re. Prince:
Prince, who suffered a concussion against Washington, went through an exertion test Monday morning and then was cleared by a team doctor to lift weights and practice. Barring a setback, he will start Saturday against Washington State.
"I rode the bike for 30 minutes and did some up-downs," Prince said. "The training staff asked how I was feeling and I said I felt normal. There will be various tests through Thursday."
If Prince is 100 percent and ready to go on Saturday, having him in there will hopefully allow our offense to stay in its rhythm:
"Offensively, we did a lot of good things, especially in the throwing game," Neuheisel said."We're kind of finding some rhythm. The receivers played a pretty darn good game. Kids are starting to come of age, and that's huge. If you look at the first two series of the game, almost everyone got to touch the ball. We're starting to spread it around."
Hopefully Prince is ready to go. It was a lot of run to see spray the ball around all over the field on Saturday. He was simply on fire and it certainly appeared that Chow had taken the leash off our offense. I hope if Prince is healthy Chow comes out with an aggressive game plan for an all out attack on Saturday. If the Bruins can take control of the game early on and maintain an aggressive posture for the entire game, it will do wonders for their confidence not just for the entire season but for the future of this program.