Allright folks, we are getting into the thick of Beat $C Week. With just 4 days to go until we see the boys in Blue and Gold take on the trogans, there's plenty going on in the Bruinverse.
Coach Mora talked to the media about the rivalry with Southern Cal, including how performance against the folks across town impacts perception of the team among recruits.
While Mora brought the spin from the top of the program - including his attempt to walk back some of the preseason expectations of the program, today's real rivalry emotion came from Wayne Cook. The former Bruin QB and current broadcaster had some thoughts on Southern Cal's claims of owning LA.
Cook, now a sideline reporter for UCLA radio broadcasts, said, "I've listen to them talk, how they dominated the series. Go back and look at the 1980s and 1990s. I'm sure UCLA won both decades. That's two decades."
UCLA had a 5-4-1 record against USC in the 1980s and an 8-2 record in the 1990s...
The Carroll years are tainted," Cook said. "They even had to vacate a couple wins. I know they had decades where they dominated, if you go back far enough. But I don't see overall USC dominance."
To be fair to the trojans, if you go back far enough, they did have periods of domination in the rivalry - back in the 1920's and 30's, when UCLA barely had a campus, let alone a football program. In the post-World War II era, Southern Cal does hold a slight 34-29-3 overall advantage - with UCLA winning the 1950's, 80's and 90's, and $C the 1960's, 70's and 2000's. If they think that's clear ownership of the southland, then they sure have been visited by the Repo man pretty often.
The Daily News' John Wicker noted where some of the Bruin players were when ASU lost last Saturday night and UCLA Football regained control over its own postseason destiny. He also got some thoughts from Ishmael Adams on the team's early/mid-season struggles.
"We were thinking about the big picture way too early," Adams said. "We really wanted that national championship. It overwhelmed us. It showed during the off-season we had. We struggled with things. We changed the defense up front but maybe we overcompensated in the back.
"Now each guy is concentrating on his job and not worrying about everybody else's. Maybe individually, it (the hype) was a focal point. Now it's all about us, how well we prepare, how hard we go after each other each day."
The players also acknowledged the season's penalty issue, along with the recent improvements in that area of the game and the need to remain focused and in control heading into the Battle for LA.
"I'm saying it right now. We'll have no penalties Saturday," Payton joked.
"We've got to make sure we stay cool, with a big game coming on," Adams said. "We get hyped up, we like to talk, at least Myles (Jack) and I do. I think coaches try to provoke us, tell their guys that they can get under our skin. We can't let that happen, but it's still going to be emotional."
Recall last year's game at the Coliseum when Southern Cal's players baited Caleb Benenoch into an early ejection (and nearly got Adams booted as well), and the need to stay cool, calm and collected on Saturday becomes all the more crucial. Bruin Sports Report has post-practice video of Caleb, Eddie Vanderdoes and Thomas Duarte free to view on their site while Jack Wang has posted Ish Adams' meeting with the media.
Video via Jack Wang/LA Daily News.
Chris Foster looked at the angle of this game not only deciding bragging rights and chances at a South division title, but also possibly deciding the Pac-12 rushing title. While Buck Allen has justifiably garnered national attention for his performance over the last year and a half at USC, Paul Perkins sits just 12 yards behind Allen for the conference rushing lead:
Perkins is uncomfortable talking about individual goals. He constantly points to the UCLA offensive line as the source of his success.
He said his focus this week, as usual, is on helping the team. However, he also said that winning the rushing title "would be a great honor for me and the offensive line. It would speak volumes about the team and how we run the ball."
Perk will get his yards, we just want the Bruins to get the win.