It's that time again, Bruin folks. The big one. Time to come out and hash out every detail of the game. Here's the match-up where we put aside all of the positives and negatives of coaches, fans, everything else and focus on five words. What will win this game? I'm going to do my best to break it down, and feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.
- We need to come out with fire. If you cannot get motivated as a D-1 football player for your rivalry game, you do not have a pulse. You are clinically dead and as such have no business wandering around a stadium. Please wait for the zombie apocalypse. Also, please eat Traveller.
- Those Idiots in Red are going to smack us in the mouth from the opening play. They will make a defensive stop and hoot and holler like it's Where the Wild Things Are. We need to hit back. We need to hoot and holler. Whatever it takes, we need to survive their first punch, whether it be offense or defense, and WE need to set the tone for this game. We need to let them know they're not going to waltz in and take our Rose Bowl from us. They're just $C.
- We need this game. There are dozens of HIGH caliber recruits that will be in attendance. These guys could be the ones that put us over the hump. Maybe if we can stomp on the Trogans, we can convince them to do the same. It's a long shot, especially for guys like Tony Steward and Colt Lyerla, but these are the athletes we desperately need in Blue and Gold.
- Finally, we need to play focused. This may seem contradictory to my previous statement, but my father always said, the two things that will bring you success in athletics are fire and focus. Fire gives you that much needed boost, and prevents you from focusing on things like faitgue, minor aches and pains, etc. Focus gives you an outlet for your energy, while still keeping you in the gameplan, and not letting you get out of control. Keeping our assignments, tackling (aka wrapping up), communicating with your teammates, running correct routes, making the right reads, all of it equals focus. We focus, we have the advantage.
Offense and defensive keys (to the city) after the jump.
Here are my observations about how we should proceed on offense:
- Key to the whole game on offense: the offensive line needs to play their minds out. The Trogans get a gooood push from their D-Line, and can bring some speed off their ends and OLBs. Our pass protection has been shoddy at best, and we need veterans like Ryan Taylor and Micah Kia to step the heck UP. They need the game of their lives to give Brehaut the time to make plays, both with his feet and arm. They also need to get some push to open things up for our back, and allow Malcolm and Jetski to get some running room. They need to live up to their "Filthy Five" crap they've been spewing since opening day. Time to put up or shut up.
- Brehaut needs a very good game. Goes without saying. He needs to make smart throws and he needs to be accurate. When Brehaut is accurate, the entire game opens up. We have a greater advantage in the run game, and our receivers have a greater chance to make plays (they need all the help they can get). We need to give him time and we need our receivers to catch his balls.
- Franklin CANNOT fumble. We need every advantage we can get, and turnovers will be extremely costly. You can bet every defensive coach for the Trogies has been coaching to strip the ball from him. He had better be ready to hold on to that pigskin.
- Norm Chow better have a good gameplan in place to take advantage of Monty's scheme. He took apart the Tampa 2 at Tennessee, now lets see if we can do that against better athletes.
- Lastly, we need some big plays out of Randall Carroll and Josh Smith at WR. We need Carroll to be in the right place for those bombs, and we need smith to step it up and get involved to open the field up. The vertical game needs to be clicking if we're going to take advantage of the relative weakness of U$C's pass defense.
- Overall, we haven't shown up, really shown up, all season. We can't go back in time. Do it now, show recruits (there will be a LOT of them) that we have an attitude and we can play with anyone. We need to do this, because after this game, we don't get another. We need this momentum going into next season, not to inflate our egos, but to light a fire under our team's collective behinds, and get them into the weight room for next year.
Here are our defensive keys.
- WRAP. UP. Tackling has been, in my humble opinion, the single biggest issue with this team all year. We simply cannot tackle, whether it is Thomas from K-State or Matt Scott from Arizona, or a pig at the county rodeo. We have not tackled well at all. I blame this on coaching and youth, but frankly, those don't work when we play in 3 days. We need to wrap up, and be physical, and gang tackle the $hite out of the Idiots in Red. Barkley can be used in a pinch as a practice dummy. Lord knows he's about as intelligent. Something about his stupid little smirk should make our kids want to introduce it to some Pasadena turf. I know I do.
- Bullogh needs one hell of a scheme to stop Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods. These kids are bigger, faster and stronger than every single one of our backfielders. Matchup nightmares, both. We need to hit them off the line and hit them over the middle. Send a message, get in their heads, but the most important part comes next...
- Get to the QB. We need to get in Barkley's head from his first snap. That means blitzing, that means pressure from our D-line, and that means solid hits on him at every (legal) opportunity. We need inaccurate passes, we need rushed passes, we need interceptions, and the only possible way to do that is by pressuring the quarterback. Otherwise, the two above will pick us apart. This is probably the biggest key to the game on the defensive side.
- Lastly, we cannot play ourselves out of this game. Bend but don't break is an awful philosophy, but frankly we've been bending and breaking. This stops NOW. Westgate, we get it, you're a great story. Now get out there and pull your weight. Ayers, you're an amazing talent. Stop over-pursuing and giving up on plays. Zumwalt, play your brains out. Owa, you're an athletic freak of nature. Play like one. Cornerbacks, play smart, hit hard, and don't let them have a single uncontested ball. Safeties, specifically Riley? You know what to do. Lay the wood. Bring the pain.
To sum up: Fire, Focus, Blocking, Tackling, Pressure, Pain. The first two apply to everyone. Everyone else, you know what to do. We're football players, we're UCLA. We won't go quietly into that good night. We won't vanish without a fight. We need to go out there, and make them remember what happens when THEY TAKE ON THE BRUINS. No more whining about coaches, no more squabbling amongst ourselves. Not this week. Lets beat the Trogans. Lets do this.