Welcome to Bruins Nation's first installment of 2016 UCLA Football Pregame Guesses! For those of you new to the site or this feature, Pregame Guesses mixes the author's musical selection with three questions about tomorrow's football game. Sometimes we throw in a bonus question.
If I am lucky I can find a theme between the music, the tenor of the program in the moment, and the questions presented. Sometimes you have to squint hard to see it. This feature was created and maintained by Achilles years ago--at least back to 2008; this is only my second year writing the article and following in the huge footsteps left by Achilles. I hope you enjoy this and future iterations of "PGG" this season.
To give you a flavor of my musical taste, here are the musical selections from last years PGGs, along with the opponent whom we would play one day later, and the sometimes tenuous connections.
Virginia-"London Calling," The Clash (former UVA Head Coach, Mike London, London Calling . . .)
UNLV-Bruinette pinch hit for me with "Sin City", AC/DC (for obvious reasons)
BYU-"Barbarism Begins at Home," The Smiths (ha, ha, ha, this selection still makes me laugh as this was right after there was a kerfuffle about BYU being a "dirty" team)
Arizona-"I Won't back Down," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the injuries were racking up and I was still optimistic . . .)
Arizona State-"So Far Away," Social Distortion (personal connection from ASU road trip while a student)
Stanford-Violent Femmes-To The Kill (Stanford's "preppy" nature and their irreverent band reminded by of the Femmes live)
U.C. Berkeley-"The Unknown Road," Pennywise (I was angry after two straight losses)
Colorado-"Eyes of a Stranger," The Payolas (no connection at all, just a fine piece of 80s one-hit-wonder cheese)
Oregon State-"What Goes Boom," The Pixies (would UCLA's O blow up in a good way, or would its D blow up in a bad way? UCLA won 41-0.
Washington State-"Best of You," Foo Fighters ( thank you Ka'imi Fairbairn on senior day)
Utah-"Stadium Love," Metric (would we get any at Rice-Eccles?)
Southern Cal-"Sons of Westwood" and "The Mighty Bruins," The Solid Gold Sound of The UCLA Marching Band (duh)
Nebraska-"All Mixed Up" (Nebraska band with a SoCal sound, not to mention how caddywhompus UCLA football and its fans were feeling going into--not to mention after--that game)
As I am right splat in the middle of Generation X and having grown up in Southern California, I guess most of those selections are age appropriate. You can probably tell I was a KROQ and 91X guy . . .
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Wishing to avoid a cheap pun out of the gate this season, which I fell victim to in the season opener against UVA last year, I wanted to find a song that connected to UCLA's place in the college football universe going into the 2016 season. As this is the first game of the season, I also wanted to use an appropriate first song from an album.
Album rock is dying a slow death with the advent of iTunes and "playlists." Sometimes you have to listen to "Dark Side" from start to finish. Or L.A. Woman for that matter. I like first songs from albums that come strong out of the box. Hopefully like UCLA does tomorrow.
The lyrics below, the first lyrics of the first song of the album, "Reach the Beach," sealed the deal for me when I was picking a song:
The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say
You've got a blank face which irritates
Communicate, pull out your party piece
You see dimensions in two
State your case in black and white
But when one little cross leads to shots, grit your teeth
You run for cover so discreet, why don't they:
Do what they say, say what they mean
One thing leads to another
You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long
But then one thing leads to another.
The song is the 1983 hit single from The Fixx, "One Thing Lead to Another:"
Very new wave. Early 80s music videos are so damn funny in retrospect. The cheap effects, the dance moves, and the novelty of MTV. LOL. Always did like the Dobermans though.
The song title, One Thing Leads to Another, definitely describes a UCLA offensive philosophy in transition. The big story of this game, IMO, is Noel Mazzone. His first game back after leaving UCLA is against none other than UCLA. And, frankly, the quote above encapsulates the gist of how I feel about our departed offensive coordinator. Homer Smith he was not.
And although the Morgan Center listened too long to his "aw shucks" schtick, one thing did lead to another: the Nzone has now led to a completely different switch in offensive philosophy, which IMO is the second biggest story of this game. How will Kennedy Polamalu's offense perform, especially out of the gate against what seems to be a stout A&M defensive front?
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Coach Polamalu's offensive philosophy (and Mazzone's) lead into our first Pregame Guess. Gone is the spread. Rosen will be under center. Polamalu, a fullback himself when he played for the Evil Empire, has brought back fullbacks and true tight ends, which will be used in 90% of the plays. We heard about our 295 lb. fullback, Ainuu Taua, blowing people up in practice. So how much will the fullback and the tight end really be used in this offense? Conversely, we all know that Mazzone is in love with the bubble screen.
PREGAME GUESS #1: Which will be higher? The number of bubble screens Texas A&M will throw against UCLA or the number of combined carries and receptions made by a UCLA player who is listed as a tight end or fullback?
The perceived strength of A&M is their defensive line. They have some studs up front, led by sack master Myles Garrett, who could be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft next season. UCLA has a pretty good defensive front too (although Deon Hollins will miss the game); Eddie Vanderdoes is a future high NFL Draft pick, and has a very solid supporting cast up front. Both units appear to have significant advantages over their opponent's offensive lines, which are both retooling.
PREGAME GUESS #2: Which unit, UCLA's defensive line or Texas A&M's defensive line, will have a higher number of combined sacks and tackles for loss?
Finally, the Aggie receivers are highly touted and might be the best unit in all of college football. UCLA has a fantastic groups of defensive backs though. The clash between these units is a great match up and will be a treat to watch. Forget about yards. Can UCLA's DBs keep A&M's receivers out of the end zone? That is the million dollar question.
PREGAME GUESS #3: How many touchdowns will Texas A&M receivers score?
And, finally, we have the return of the Prediction Widget, powered by The Crowd's Line! Just enter your prediction of the final score into the widget.
That's all she wrote for this week's Pregame Guesses. Hit me with your best shot in the comments section below!
Go Bruins!!! Just a day away . . .