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UCLA Pregame Guesses: Washington Huskies Edition

UCLA's confusing up and down season has left the author feeling confused, up and down.

Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

(This week's video is A Day In the Life by The Flaming Lips featuring Miley Cyrus. The Flaming Lips have recorded a tribute to The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album and Miley joined them. The Lips and Miley have a relationship apparently, she's a huge fan of theirs and they've played together and recorded together before. It's an enjoyable yet confusing combination, at least to me. Since I'm feeling a bit confused this week I thought it would be fun to share. Plus, I watched the performance on the Conan show while I typed this.)

Thursday, 8:13 pm

This week I feel out of step.


I get the feeling that many members of Bruins Nation weren’t too please with last week’s win against Arizona. The team certainly didn’t play well at all in the first quarter and we trailed at halftime. It took touchdowns on back-to-back drives to put us up by ten and we protected that lead for the whole fourth quarter. Surely, it was not a pretty performance – the best player in the game might have been Arizona’s punter.

Still, I had fun and enjoyed the win.

I think this might have been one of those cases where the team’s performance felt better in person than it looked on television. My seats for the game were in the corner in Section Two, right above the tunnel where the team comes out. We got lucky last week. Both Paul Perkins touchdown run and Jordan Payton’s score on that bomb from Brett Hundley happened right in front of us. We might have been lucky in another way as well. From our vantage point, or lack thereof, it really looked like we played a really good defensive game. From reading through some of the posts and comments after the fact, I get the feeling that maybe Arizona just wasn’t playing that well, that Anu Solomon was missing his targets and when his throws were straight his receivers were dropping the ball.

But that’s not how it looked to me in the Rose Bowl. To me, it looked like we were playing like the team I anticipated in one of the earlier Pregame Guesses posts. It looked like we were playing top notch defense and good enough offense and by the way that top notch defense was being played against one of the best offensive teams in the conference.

Look, I’m the guy who was so deep in my own football melancholia a few weeks ago, Morrissey almost wrote a song about me. Then, somehow, when the majority seemed to feel that we won but should have played better and won by more, I’m feeling okay.

I can’t really explain it.

You know, we really almost blew Arizona out. One of our trips into the red zone ended with a field goal. Earlier in the first quarter, we drove down to the 20 yard line and missed a field goal. Had either or both of those drives turned into touchdowns, we win by 20-plus, not ten. So, I guess it sort of felt to me like we won big, even though the scoreboard didn’t reflect it.

By the way, Jim Mora mentioned an interesting stat on the radio during the post game show. Going into the Arizona game, we led the nation in red zone scoring percentage. I can’t find the exact stat that proved that, I can tell you that we’re currently fifth in the nation in red zone scoring percentage. That includes the fact that Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 37-yard field goal on Saturday that lowered our percentage a bit. I’m not sure why that’s relevant, but it seems like a positive statistic to note.

Maybe it has to do with expectations? I thought we could lose last week and I wrote in last week’s post that I didn’t like the Jeff Ulbrich-Rich Rodriguez match up at all and we go out and win and our defense doesn’t allow Arizona a point after there first drive.

Speaking of that first drive – we committed 35-yards worth of penalties on what was a 75-yard Arizona drive. Not good. And I don’t know what to make of it. We’ve committed too many penalties since Jim Mora became coach, but it’s not clear to me why that is or whose to blame – if anyone is to blame at all. How do you cut down on penalties? Is it because our coaches are not teaching the right blocking, tackling and pass coverage techniques? Is it because the players who are committing the penalties aren’t being properly disciplined? Do other coaches actually take some action against players who commit penalties? I really don’t know.

A word about the running game:

I really am liking the Paul Perkins/Nate Starks combo and I like it even more when you throw in Brett Hundley’s running plays. I wonder of Kennedy Polamalu is making a difference here? Have you noticed that Perkins is really patient when he runs the ball? He takes his time, allows plays to develop and then follows his blockers. He doesn’t try to bounce things outside or cut back unnecessarily and take losses when there is no hole.

That’s about all I’ve got this week. My bad, I wish it could be more.

I guess I just don’t know what to make of this team or how I feel about the season and I can’t find the words to express it. Or maybe I’m just feeling tired and disjointed. It happens.

With that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Washington Huskies edition:

Wait, I can't just end the post like that.

I guess I just can't figure out what's wrong with a 7-2 team, but somehow there is something wrong with this 7-2 team. What exactly is wrong? Is it that we lost a close game to Utah? I mean, Oregon is a really good team. I'd like to think if we played our best we could beat them, but the fact remains they're good and losing to them, even at home, isn't a real crime. It sort of sucks that we weren't competitive with them, but they are the type of team that gets rolling and it just gets tough to come back on them. They are so much farther along as a program than we are, that losing to them hurts, but it doesn't baffle you.

So, we lost to Utah. I guess that's it. We've played a number of sub par games this year and won anyway. We commit turnovers and commit penalties and we're still able to beat Texas and Virginia and Cal and Colorado. But Utah is a bit better than those teams and our margin for error was smaller and we played crappy and got beat. Still, we came within one more 20 yard pass of beating them. Twenty more yards and Fairbairn makes the winning field goal and we're maybe in the bottom half of the Top Ten or at least in the Top Fifteen.

That's not much better, but at least I said it.

I think we have a good chance to beat Washington tomorrow. This team has a pretty good chance to win 10 games for the second year in a row. We haven't done that since 97-98 and it would only be the second time since 87-88. We've won three straight games. Maybe it's okay if I don't feel melancholy this week.

Now ...

And with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Washington Huskies edition:

Oh, wait, when I asked last week what number would be higher, Paul Perkins rushing yards or UCLA's penalty yards, I was joking. I never for a second thought the answer would be the penalty yards. That was weird. Sad, too. And frustrating.

Ok, now, for real:

And with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Washington Huskies edition:

  1. Will UCLA score more passing or rushing touchdowns against Washington?
  2. Which team will score first in the second half? (I'm just dying to see us score for once on our first second half possession.)
  3. I don't know what the official over/under is, but I'm setting it at 53. Do you like the over or under based on my over under line?