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Spaulding Report: Preparing for OSU by Focusing on U.C.L.A.

Jim Mora After Practice, 9-18-12 (via UCLA)

Before I get to the good stuff, I have a heads up to the BN Community...There is a new look coming to Bruins Nation (and all the SB Nation blogs) and it may be here sooner than you can imagine. We will fill you in over the next few days, but be prepared for a new appearance to BN. But as the face changes, rest assured you will get the same content and ultimate fandom that you are used to. Now, back to more important things...

After spending Monday in meetings and watching films...err, make that film...of Oregon State, the Bruins took to the field on Tuesday to start putting those lessons into practice. The Bruins only have one game film of OSU this year to because their home opener with Nicholls State (which is in Thibodaux, Louisiana...who knew?) was postponed due to due to Hurricane Isaac. But the OSU game film that U.C.L.A. does have shows the Beavers clamping down on then #13 Wisconsin's vaunted offense, and particularly their run game. From Peter Yoon at ESPN-LA:

The Beavers surprised the country with their 10-7 victory over a Wisconsin team that was ranked No. 13 at the time. In that game they held Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy candidate and 1,923-yard rusher last season, to 61 yards in 15 carries.

It's that type of run defense that stood out on film to Mora and has him worried about Oregon State's ability to take away a UCLA run game that currently ranks No. 5 in the nation at 311.33 yards per game.

"I don't know if I want to see more than one game the way they payed Wisconsin," Mora said. "They really looked good. Really good."

So Coach Mora and his staff will have their work cut out for them devising ways to penetrate the Beavers' defense. The Bruins certainly have the weapons ready on offense but will need consistently solid play from the offensive line which was at times shakier last week than it had been in the first two games. Also, if our Bruins keep giving the ball to the Beavers the way they did against Houston, they will make us pay.

Mora agreed that regardless of how OSU plays, the way the Bruins execute will be the key this Saturday.

It's about going out and executing our assignments the way they're supposed to be executed...Making tackles and making blocks and playing hard and great effort

The Bruins' coach did speak highly, though rather generically, of OSU's all around game and coaching staff

They [the Bruin players] have a healthy respect for Oregon State as a football team, offensively, defensively, and special teams. They are very very sound and they play hard with a lot of passion and great technique.

Those are generally the right things to say about any opponent, but they are kind of generic and speak more to a well-coached and well-prepared team as opposed to a highly talented team. I get the sense that Mora likes his roster versus OSU's roster.

Mora noted that OSU presents a new challenge for his defense. After facing 3 spread style offenses so far this year, the Beavers will bring a more traditional power run style game to Pasadena.

We're going to see some real runs. We're going to see some powers, and some split bellies, some counters and some lead draws. And we're going to see three tight end sets. And we're going to see four wides, as well. They do a lot of different things. It's a lot different than what we've seen the first three weeks.

One of the interesting approaches of our coaching staff has been a willingness to move players to different positions, but it sounds like that won't be seen as much this Saturday. The OSU offense doesn't lend itself to a lot of experimentation with our defensive personnel, but Mora said it will affect which units we will see out on the field.

It could influence what defenses we play. When you're playing a spread team you're playing a lot more with your dime personnel. This week if they're going to 3 tight ends we're not going to our dime. We'll stay in our 3-4 stuff. If they put big guys on the field, we want to put big guys on the field. If they put speed on the field we want to put speed on the field.

Not surprisingly, there were no updates on injuries, so the status of Brett Hundley's injured ankle and Jeff Baca's injury to something remain unknown. As of yesterday, they were either fine or good or possibly something else, but Mora isn't sharing that sort of info with Oregon State.

Miguel Melendez had a nice one-on-one interview with Devin Lucien after practice. Devin discussed the Bruins' play last week and called it unsatisfactory, citing his fumble and focusing on the plays that didn't get made rather than the plays that were made. He also said that that sitting as a redshirt last year has made him sometimes overly excited to make plays this year, and he admits he needs to curb his enthusiasm a bit. It's a good watch.

Lucien echoes Mora's sentiments, noting that the Bruins just need to focus on the Bruins and

They're a great team and a great defense. With the way we play, we feel like we're more going against ourselves. If we play to our standard and we do what we're supposed to do we feel like everything else will take care of itself.

It's good to hear the kid learning a bit of humility and accountability. With that developing maturity matching up with his freakish talent, and as he gets used to making spectacular catches every week, Lucien will become another potent weapon for Coach Mazzone's offense.