Both UCLA and Southern Cal are now starting different quarterbacks from the ones who started at the beginning of the season. Mike Fafaul took over an already struggling Bruin offense, and has won only one of the last five games since he was forced into action. Sam Darnold, on the other hand, is on a six game win streak after replacing Max Browne, and the Trojans are fresh off their biggest win of the season at previously undefeated Washington.
"We’ve gotta work hard all week, have a great week of preparation and focus," head coach Jim Mora said to reporters on Monday. "We’re going to have to play a darn near perfect game on Saturday night."
The Bruins have played far from perfect this season, especially on offense, where they have been inconsistently productive and consistently sloppy. But in rivalry games, anything can happen.
"It’s heated. It’s fun. It’s everything that you wanted when you committed here at this school," linebacker Jayon Brown said. "It’s going to be so fun, yeah. I can’t wait."
"We have a lot of friends that play on the other side of the ball. Everybody up and down the roster, you know, we know each other, grew up going to camps and stuff together," center Scott Quessenberry said. "It’s just really, really fun to compete against some of our best friends that are on the other side of the ball."
The Bruins begin the practice week coming off their first win since the game against Arizona at the Rose Bowl, the last full game Josh Rosen played quarterback, and are hoping that some positive momentum can help propel them to an upset victory when the Trojans pay a visit to the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
"What it does is it gives you, you know a little bit more of a positive vibe, and you have to go out and you have to back it up," Mora said.
"The biggest thing again is getting back to we were having fun out there," Quessenberry said. "So it’s good going into this game and we’re excited for another challenge coming up again Saturday."
Jayon Brown Closing in on 100 Tackles
Linebacker Jayon Brown leads the team in tackles, and recorded his 97th last week against Oregon State in the Rose Bowl. Eric Kendricks was the last Bruin to get to 100 tackles in a season, and I hear he’s doing pretty well for himself on Sundays with another Bruin next to him.
"Just a fun stat," Brown said, when asked about the milestone.
Brown, along with Kenny Young and Josh Woods, form the linebacker corps that Jim Mora thinks is one of the best in the country.
"I think you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of linebacking groups that are playing better than those three playing together," Mora said. "It’s one of the reasons we’re playing so well against the run on defense right now, and against the pass."
Nate Iese twisted his knee against Oregon State, and Mora said he’ll be day-to-day this week. Kolton Miller is "not quite ready to play." Austin Kent had a bruised knee and was replaced by Stefan Klintoft against the Beavers in the 4th quarter, but Mora said that decision wasn’t performance based.
Eddie Vanderdoes told Mora in practice last week that he was feeling that best he’s felt all year.
Rosen, if you didn’t see him, was back on the sidelines wearing a headset during the Bruins victory over Oregon State.
Check out more from head coach Jim Mora, Tom Bradley, Kennedy Polamalu, Scott Quessenberry, Jayon Brown, Darren Andrews, Jordan Lasley, and Caleb Wilson below. Videos are courtesy of Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News.
HC Jim Mora:
C Scott Quessenberry
LB Jayon Brown:
WR Darren Andrews: