Yesterday we found out Trojan safety Taylor Mays doesn't think all that much about the UCLA-U$C* football game. It's "not that big a deal" for him apparently as he cares more about the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State. Well today we are finding out Mays teammate Heisman Barkley is not all that worried about taking on the Bruin defense (emphasis added):
"They play a pretty base defense, which is not going to be hard to see," Barkley said. "They're just going to play hard and get after you.
"So it's not going to be too tough mentally. . . . They're secondary is very impressive but, again, they're beatable at times."
All he left out was mentioning how he envisioned the Trojan offense slicing right through Price, Carter and Ayers. Barkley is feeling confident and good about himself because he will have Damien Williams and Anthony McCoy back in the lineup:
It was difficult to tell who was happier Tuesday -- USC receiver Damian Williams or quarterback Matt Barkley.
Williams went from doubtful to probable for Saturday's game against UCLA at the Coliseum, doctors clearing the junior to play after he tested his injured right ankle in practice.
"I didn't do anything totally crazy, just try to see if I can cut and move and how fast I can run," said Williams, who did not play in the Trojans' 55-21 loss to Stanford. "Straight ahead, I'm fine. There's a little discomfort cutting but not too much."
The return of Williams, coupled with tight end Anthony McCoy's progression toward a return to full strength, would help Barkley and the Trojans offense immensely against a surging Bruins team that ranks first in the Pacific 10 Conference in scoring defense and turnover margin.
Well, no doubt the Trojan offense will have an upper hand IMO if Williams and McCoy are 100 percent. They can give them that balance to complement the threats posed by McKnight and Bradford. Given what we have seen from our defense since the Tennessee game, I am still weary about our front-7 going up against their running attack. Although Barkley's comments about UCLA playing a "pretty base defense" is a little funny given what we saw last weekend at the Rose Bowl. The kid has a point since we have been voicing frustrations about it the whole season, but it's kind of odd to make that statement so publicly as an opponent after UCLA is coming off couple of games in which they mixed it up a little. Whatever, I am sure our guys will take note of Mr. Barkley's relaxed mindset.
Speaking of our guys, CRN and Brian Price are not discounting Trojans despite their recent struggles:
Despite the recent struggles, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was quick to assert that the Trojans remain as physically talented as any team in the country.
"They aren't impostors wearing that uniform," he said. "We will have to play our best to stay close and hopefully get the game into the fourth quarter."
That's a big reason why Price, while willing to talk about how much USC annoys him, isn't willing to trash talk the Trojans as a program.
"They're still dangerous," he said. "We can't take them lightly because they lost a couple of games. They're not the same as they were a couple of years ago, but they are still 'SC."
They are still '$C* indeed. More on those clowns and other notes around this game after the jump.Brian Price also noted what Taylor Mays apparently had to say during their bonfire in South Central:
"They had a bonfire I guess and he was saying that just because they lost a couple of games that they're still 'SC and we're still UCLA so they're going to beat us," Price said. "Something like that. Something disrespectful. I found it funny, but we're going to use it to our advantage."
Price then observed:
"You can't talk trash after getting dominated by Stanford and Oregon like that," he said.
LOL, and he also added:
"As the years go by, you grow to dislike them even more and more," he said. "They're so cocky and arrogant."
Man. I am going to miss the Big Bear. I don't know about but right now I am having a hard time sitting still till Saturday night to see the kind of emotion Price comes out with in (our home uniform) at the Mosoleum. You can sense the emotion that is already roiling up within him for this game.
As for this team-mates on the other side, the OL is looking to build on the performance from last weekend when they wore down the number 15 ranked defense in the country. Although the Bruins didn't rack up the explosive numbers from preview 9 quarters, they were grinding it out throughout the second half. It appeared Palcic's boys were softening up the ASU defensive front by pounding them away, and opening up holes for Chane the Train Moline. More importantly they were caught behind the line just 5 times. Not too shabby for the rebuilt OL that has been developing throughout this 09 season. From Jon Gold in the Daily News:
"Our defense allowed us to play more conservatively, and then our O-line did a great job protecting," Moline said. "At first there weren't too many holes, but the offensive line wore them down a little bit. As (senior fullback) Trevor Theriot said, it was old-style, power football."
If Tuesday's practice was any indication, it will continue to be.
Moline appears to be the Bruins' man of the moment this week as well after his first start following a three-carry, three-touchdown performance against Washington State in Week 10.
"Chane's been the man these past couple weeks," Maiava said. "His ability to read the holes and read the blocks is probably the best on our team.
"He's a senior and this means the most to him. Coach talks about keeping drives alive, and if we can keep just getting first downs all the way to a touchdown I'm OK with that."
While the conservative approached worked against ASU, especially after our defense gave us a cushion with 2 TDs, we can't count on that for Saturday. We will need lot more than Chane (as dependable as he can be) and CRN knows it:
UCLA used a safe-and-sane offensive approach in a 23-13 victory over Arizona State on Saturday. The Bruins had fullback Chane Moline at tailback and ground out yardage.
"That remains to be seen," Coach Rick Neuheisel said when asked if a similar game plan would work against USC. "I don't think we can do it wholesale. I think we have to mix things up. I just think we're going to need more explosive plays. That's going to require more than just having our 'bigs' on the field."
I am going to guess CRN and Chow will mix in substantial doses of JetSki, Franklin, Coleman and perhaps Thigpen from Saturday. I really hope this will be the weekend when the penalties will be minmized and all aspects of offensive execution will come together. If there is a game to make that happen this is it.
We have talked about defense and offense in this roundup. So, I will end with the special team which can potentially play a huge part this Sat. So far (except for kickoff coverage and returns) they have been solid:
An edge that UCLA appears to have over USC is on special teams.
The Bruins have the top field-goal kicker in the nation (Kai Forbath) and the nation's ninth-ranked punter (Jeff Locke).
They also excel in the ability to change momentum with blocked kicks.
The special teams, under coach Frank Gansz Jr., have blocked five kicks this season, three field goals and two punts, with two resulting in points. A blocked field goal by defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski was returned for a touchdown by Alterraun Verner against San Diego State. Linebacker Sean Westgate blocked a punt for a safety against Washington State.
"I love the man-on-man part of it," Westgate said about his punt blocking success. "You have to find a way to beat that guy any way you can. Then I get up and get to where the guy is kicking."
Well let's hope the Bruins can use the edge offered up Sean Westgate and rest of our special teams. Foster actually has a solid write up today on our kicking game featuring Fortbath, Locke, Reese (holder) and Younter (long snapper). Those guys have been money all season and we are going to need them in a huge way on Saturday, if it shapes up to be a classic nailbiting game.
I think the key will be for our team to keep it close early on. If we can slug it out in the trenches early on and turn this into a street fight at half time, we will have a shot. We need our defense to come out and attack the Trojans just like they went after it against Hardesty and Tennessee. They need to play out of their minds while on offense Prince and co. need to keep building on the confidence they have gained in recent weeks. Again, just gotta keep it close at half time and then look for the opportunity to pounce. We will have the mental edge as the pressure right now despite all the talk from South Central is all on Pom Pom.