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Game Day Roundup: "Ready Or Not, Here We Come"

If last Saturday was the most anticipated opening game in recent UCLA football history, this Saturday arguably is the most anticipated UCLA road game since the appearance in Tuscaloosa in 2001. At this point, the pressure is pretty much off our Bruins. I wrote yesterday about how national pundit(s) are overwhelming picking Tennessee to beat UCLA. The Sports Network preview (offered up by SBN) also has UCLA losing by double digits (17-30). Not to anyone's surprise Lee Corso has already picked Tennessee to win. So again, we have nothing to lose which sets it up for a possible Saturday where we can just let it lose and hopefully have some fun.

Coach Neuheisel has essentially been making the same points about enjoying the experience to his team all week:

"Do I have a choice? Ready or not, here we come," Neuheisel said. "We have to go and play and I don't want them to be nervous about it. I want them to go and enjoy the dang experience and I think we're going to do that."

CRN wants his players to embrace the excitement of playing infront of 100,000+ rabid college football fans:

"Do I have a choice? Ready or not, here we come," Neuheisel said. "We have to go and play and I don't want them to be nervous about it. I want them to go and enjoy the dang experience and I think we're going to do that."

While doing their best to focus on execution (espescially on what he terms the "practical things"):

"A lot is made of it. It's going to be no secret to our players that it's going to be loud," Neuheisel said. "I don't think making this seem like this is a mountain we have to climb is the right way. We address it. We deal with the practical things in terms of snap counts and trying to make checks as an offense."

At least from their public statements, pretty clear our guys are buying into that message.

Kevin Prince is relishing the opportunity:

"It's nerve-wracking because you want to go in there and perform well, win and really establish the UCLA program, but you can't let all that pressure get to you," Prince said. "I think it will grab a lot of people's attention if we can go in and knock them off. It's a big-time opportunity."

While Price sounds ready for the onslaught from the Volunteers:

"They're going to come in gunning for us and they're going to want revenge," UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price said. "I know I would if I was in their position, having lost to a team they weren't supposed to lose to, but we'll be ready for that."

Chris Foster from the LAT has more on how seniors such as Carter, Paulsen, and ATV are doing what they can to preach the mindset of being mature, composed so that they can minimize the self-inflicted wounds in UCLA's prior nightmarish experiences in big time road trips.

While the seniors are preaching maturity, true freshmen such as Carroll, Presley and Thigpen are going to be anxious to flash their speed and athletcism. It's pretty clear from last week's game that the coaches are going to do what they can to incorporate them into the game plan. Per the LAT CRN has been spending some extra time with Morrell Presley this week:

Neuheisel would like to get speedy freshmen Morrell Presley, Randall Carroll and Damien Thigpen entirely up to speed. All appeared in the season opener, but none played a significant role in the 33-14 victory over San Diego State.

Presley is a particularly desirable commodity because his speed and 6-foot-4, 219-pound frame can cause matchup problems.

"He just needs to be more comfortable with assignments and the nuances of the position," Neuheisel said. "He's a guy who can impact a game."

Neuheisel spent extra time this week working individually with Presley on improving his catching ability.

"They want me to think, but not think too much to where I don't know what I'm doing," Presley said. "It's hard to go from high school, being dominating and getting the ball every other play, and then go start at the bottom. When I get a chance, I have to embrace it."

Here is to Presley pouncing on it when the opportunity comes his way today. Again all he has to remember that he needs to focus on having fun and executing the game plan because the pressure is all on the other team to make an emphatic statement.

The LAT is playing usual role of concern trolling and remind UCLA that history is not on our side:

History is not on UCLA's side. The Bruins have a 6-12-3 record south of the Mason-Dixon Line, not counting bowl games.

They are 3-7-2 on the road against Southeastern Conference teams, with victories in Alabama (2001), Tennessee (1978) and Florida (1941).

Meanwhile, Jon Gold from the Daily News reached out to Cory Paus, the last Bruin QB who helped pull out that win against a team from the SEC. Paus had the following words for Kevin Prince:

"All I would tell him is stick to what you know," said Paus, who started seven games as a redshirt freshman and split time in two others. "Pay attention. Focus. Believe it. Listen to your coaches."

Again from their words this week, it sounds like they are listening (and also taking note of how everyone is counting them out):

The Bruins have a little more (emotion) now, seeing as they are eight-point underdogs against a team they beat just last season.

"I'm sure they've got that in their minds," Bosworth said. "But we have that in our minds, too, that nobody thinks we can win. Even last year, nobody thought we could win. When we did, a lot of jaws dropped. But people still doubt us."

They will, unless UCLA pulls out a tough road victory.

They will, until the team proves things have changed around Westwood and even Knoxville.

"We're all buying into this," UCLA sophomore offensive lineman Jeff Baca said. "We have to get this program back to the top, where it belongs. Hopefully, this is our season right here. This is our hype, bringing UCLA back up to the top."

And it starts with Rocky Top.

Ready or not, here we come.