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Spaulding Roundup: Are We Ready For A "Cold" Palouse?

If you haven't had the chance to do it you should listen to the podcast Ryan and Josh did last night going over UCLA's game against Washington State. They also hosted Nuss from CougCenter to preview the Cougars, who graciously offered his perspectives on what can expect tomorrow. There is no sugar coating the kind of dismal season Cougars have had in recent years. Given the circumstances it is pretty damn admirable how Nuss and his colleagues are sticking with the program through their darkest of hours. While he is being realistic about the Cougars' chances tomorrow, on our end I can't help but feel worried about our mindset heading into Palouse.

We have talked all week about how Palouse hasn't been a great place for UCLA football. Yes, we did experience a sort of miracle in 2005 when we won the game despite the "leadership" of Karl Dorrell. Except for that game though Martin Stadium has been a house of horrors. In the back of my mind I can't help but be worried about the mindset of a UCLA program which seems to have a tendency to read too much of its press clippings, when news/momentum breaks its way. There is also the weather factor for a Southern California based football team. Ted Miller from WWL writes:

If there were any arguments in favor of the Cougars notching the upset, weather would be a major factor -- particularly against a warm-weather team like UCLA.

"It depends on how cold it is on the day you play," Wulff said. "It could. No question it could."

The Cougars are just glad to be home. They've played five of their last six games on the road against five ranked teams.

As pointed out earlier this week Cougars also have Dwight Tardy who tore up the UCLA defense last time we visited Pullman couple of years ago. Our rush defense has been abysmal in recent weeks. It will be imperative for our front-7 to step up and make a statement early on against a Cougar team, which will try to build on any signs of life it can muster up in the early stages of the game. We just can't afford to give those guys any sense of hope or momentum in the first quarter. More after the jump.

Nuss noted last night that it looks like Cougars will be indeed with our freshman QB Jeff Tuel tomorrow. Tuel has given them a spark this season. The Spokesman Review wrote about how the Cougars (kind of like the Bruins) have gone through their own QB carousel this year:

The Cougars (1-8, 0-6 Pac-10) have used three starting quarterbacks this season: senior Kevin Lopina, who was the opening day quarterback; sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, who took over in the third game; and freshman Jeff Tuel, who earned the job in the fifth game and has kept it since.

But Tuel was sidelined in last week’s defeat to Arizona with a slight dislocation of his kneecap and probably will not be available against UCLA (4-5, 1-5) Saturday.

Lobbestael relieved and hooked up with Karstetter on a 64-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown that was a direct result of both being "on the same page."

A play was called. Lobbestael changed it. Karstetter studied the coverage and signaled a new route. Reading the change, Lobbestael lofted the ball out front, Karstetter snatched it with one hand, shed the defender and scored.

It was Karstetter’s sixth touchdown reception – he’s tied with James Rodgers of Oregon State for the Pac-10 lead – and third in three games.

"It was a great play, but I have complete confidence, Jeff and I and any of the quarterbacks, we all have complete trust in all the receivers," Lobbestael said.

Again it's worth repeating: Bruins are not in position to get comfortable against any team at this point of their rebuilding process. Lobbestale and Karstetter, I am sure have taken note of how opposing QBs have gone directly after ATV (who has been dealing with some injury issues) and Sheldon Price. So our guys better be locked in and ready.

Lastly, I will end with a quick note on the offensive side. It looks like Junior offensive lineman Jake Dean will get the start at right guard, with junior Darius Savage rotating in, in place of junior Ryan Taylor. Hopefully Jake can step up the same way Taylor did in last two weeks. We will need our OL to give Prince the same protection they have provided in last two weeks. It has played a huge role in Prince's emergence has a productive passer. Let's hope they can all stay in rhythm tomorrow afternoon in the Palouse.