Normally we start game day roundups by checking in with the local tradmed's coverage of our Bruins. Given how nothing has really worked against the Bears since 1998, thought we switch up our routine just a touch by checking in with our opponent coverage first. It will probably not make much of a difference and the Bruins will find a way to lose again in Berkeley, starting a mass meltdown in the message boards and in our comment threads and causing the local papers and usual trolls to lose all grasp of the long term perspective on the program. But what the hell. Let's give it a shot.
We wrote yesterday about the Bears being under a pressure to win this game to avert a 0-2 start in the conference season. Jonathan Okanes hit the same note in the Oakland Tribune:
"I don't know if it's just urgency for the Pac-10. I think it's urgency just for our entire season because we've lost the last two," Cal running back Shane Vereen said. "We don't want to feel rushed. We don't want to feel pressure. But I think we all understand that we need to get this win Saturday."
No team has ever started 0-2 and won the Pac-10 title.
Not to mention after today the Bears have a road trip coming up in LA. So the stakes are especially high for them in Jeff Teford's season in Berkeley. Bears have number of factors going in their favor. One of them happens to be the return of a healthy Keenan Allan (stud freshman wideout):
Allen is "such a good weapon out there for our offense," quarterback Kevin Riley said. "Now, he's 100 percent. Even in practice, he looks much better. It's going to be exciting to see him out there at full strength, making plays."
In calling Allen a "joy to coach," Daft [Cal receivers' coach Kevin Daft] said, "He's a very good athlete. That's why he was able to play a lot of positions in high school. ... He handled the ball so much over his career, he has a knack for seeing things develop quicker than others."
Time for another splash, perhaps?
Bears are hoping for exactly that on their homecoming Saturday. Of course the tradmed in LA are focusing on Shane Vereen and JR wr Marvin Jones who have killed the Bruins over the years. Even Patrick Larimore mentioned in the official game preview how the Bruins will have to keep an eye on Vereen. If our secondary doesn't shape up (hello Aaron Hester, Sheldon Price and Rahim Moore) today, Allen could have the same kind of day another outstanding Pac-10 freshman wideout - Marquess Wilson - enjoyed at the expense of those guys last weekend.
As for the Cal defense, Bear DC Clancy Pendergast sounds confident about taking on our revolver. In his Q&A with Ted Miller on tWWL, he saw similarities between the revolver and the wildcat offense he schemed against in the NFL:
CP: There are some neat things about it. It's very similar to the "Wildcat" offense that was a craze in the NFL two years ago, which started with the Miami Dolphins. I spent a whole offseason and 2009 studying the Wildcat and how to defend it, just because it became so popular in the 2008 season. We looked at how a lot of NFL teams defended it, and looked at some of the college teams that ran it and studied some of them and how teams defended them. But in the true Wildcat, the element of the quarterback not being under center to throw the football is really the biggest difference.
Pendargast also named the following guys as his most "consistent" players for the Bear D:
CP: I think [DE] Cameron Jordan has been our most consistent guy. Linebacker D.J. Holt has played really well, at mike linebacker inside. He's been our most consistent linebacker week in and week out. In the secondary, [safety] Chris Conte has been pretty consistent.
And of course don't forget he also gets a healthy Mike Mohamed - perhaps the best Mik LB in the conference (and the country) - for today's contest. So it's a tall order for Kevin Prince, who knows he will most likely see Bears putting pressure on UCLA's passing "attack":
"There are things we see that we can take advantage of, but at the same time, with them having two weeks to prepare, I doubt that they'll come out and run the same schemes," said UCLA sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince, who returns from a knee injury that caused him to miss the Bruins' 42-28 win over Washington State last Saturday.
"I doubt they play us the same way. If they do, great. If not, we'll have to be able to adjust. We're kinda expecting them to load up the box a little bit and make us throw the ball again, so we're getting ready for that."
Going into the Texas game I thought Prince at least needed to pass for 200 something yards or close to it for us to have any chance in hell in Austin. After the game I was proven completely wrong. I still maintain for UCLA to have a shot today Prince will need to pass for at least 150 yards or more against the Bears. If we can't mount a credible passing game this afternoon, it is not going to be fun.
Switching back to other side again, Rahim Moore in comments similar to the ones he made to Gold, talked to Scott Reid from the OC Register about not getting "out-executed":
"We're getting out-executed that's all," UCLA All-America free safety Rahim Moore said, dismissing the notion of a Cal curse. "There's not a balance. We do well on defense and we do bad on offense. We do well on offense we do bad on defense. Things have to be mutual. We just get out executed every time with Cal. We have the great game plan but we mess up on simple mistakes. That's all it is. It's not that they're better than us."
Man, I love Rahim. He is easily one of my favorite players from recent years. However, I am getting tired of hearing about our guys (and I hear this from Prince a lot too) about needing to clean up "simple mistakes" and "little things." It is time for these guys to just get it done. End of story. I don't care what the game result is today but what will make me happy if I see the UCLA team play an almost mistake free football game like we saw against Texas. Comeon guys make it happen.
Elsewhere, Chris Foster from the Trojan Times continues his paper's venomous jihad against UCLA by putting together "reports" full of petty cheap shots, gloomy numbers. His game coverage provides nothing new on today's game and throws in a barb about how UCLA will be "stuck in neutral" if they don't win against the Bears today. Of course that take is full of sh!t because it doesn't take in the long term view and completely discounts the progress we have seen in our program from last two years. Pretty obvious that this toolbag either really hates UCLA or hates his gig covering the Bruins. You get the sense Foster and TJ Slimers already have their post game write up done anticipating a Bear victory as they are hitting to hit the "publish" button as soon as the game is over.
Anyway, the game gets started at 12:30 pm PST. Our game thread will go up around 12:00 pm. Until then you can use this post as your pre-game thread taking in the actions from Big-10, ACC, Big East and whatever else on in the early slate. Enjoy your Saturday.