Tuesdays are normally the day of game week where the team does have the most physical, intense practice, but it was even moreso this Tuesday, as designed by the coaches. In a drill that hasn't ever been used, or not used much, certain offensive units matched up against others in a tackling technique drill. The tailbacks matched against the safeties, the tight ends and fullbacks went up against the linebackers and the wide receivers matched against the cornerbacks. The offensive player simulated like he was running in the open field, and the tackler worked on getting his pad level and push against the ball carrier correct. There wasn't supposed to be any actual tackling, even though it's hard to pull back a defensive player when he's going through a drill like this.
At one point, too, the first-team offense practiced against the first-team defense in live a live redzone drill, which is pretty unusual. Most of the time the first team offense goes up against the scout team defense, and likewise for the first team defense.
The coaches were also pushing the players more Tuesday, with a couple of coaches making certain players sit out a drill or do the drill over and over again until they did it correctly. There was some special attention paid to the defensive backs from Defensive Coordinator Phil Snow.
When asked about the unusually intense and physical practice, Head Coach Bob Toledo said, "What I'm trying to do is be more physical right now. As we get into the season, one of my concerns is not finishing well, so I want to back off more toward the end of the season this year. I'm going to try to get them fresher at the end of the year. I'm trying to get the physical part, the hitting part, the fundamentals, much as I can right now and then back off a little bit the last several weeks of the season."
Defensive tackle Steve Morgan practiced, but Toledo said he's still questionable. He said, "He was out here. Let's put it that way. He didn't do a lot of the physical things."
Toledo did have praise for defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti. He can play almost either tackle. He's a wild one. He slides around. He got the Heart Award for the week. He made a great effort and did a nice job."
With Colorado's passing game crippled, Toledo was asked if he worried bout the Buffaloes devising new ways to score:
"I don't worry about it. I try to explain to my players to expect it. You have to manufacture points. If you can't do it through throwing the ball and having a balanced offense, you have to do it through trick plays, or special teams. You have to find ways to manufacture points if you can't move the ball. They obviously can run the ball. So, if they can run the ball, control the clock, keep the ball away from us and not let us score and keep it a close game, that's how I look at it. So, yeah, I think they'll have to try to manufacture points and it could be that they'll try to just run right down our throats."
Would Toledo use a version of a stacked box against Colorado?
"We have to stop the run, put it that way. We have to pressure them when they throw the football. We have to pressure the quarterback."
Non-Conference Win Streak: UCLA is on a considerably impressive non-conference winning streak of nine straight games, dating back to the loss at Ohio State in 1999. And that was with a team hurt by the suspensions due to the handicapped parking incident. The last non-conference loss before that was, of course, in 1998, against Miami.
The Common-Opponents Round Robin Continues:
UCLA beat Colorado State, 30-19.
Colorado State beat Colorado, 19-14.
Colorado beat San Diego State, 34-14.
USC beat Colorado, 40-3.
UCLA plays San Diego State, Sept. 28th.
Colorado State plays San Diego State Nov. 16th.
UCLA plays USC, Nov. 23rd.
Significant Stats: The Bruins average of 202 yards on the ground per game is 44 yards per game better than the next best Pac-10 team, Oregon, at 158 yards a game.
If you combined the carries of Akil Harris and Manuel White into one back, that back would easily be leading the Pac-10 in rushing. The Harris/White hybrid would be averaging 148 yards a game. Onterrio Smith of Oregon is currently averaging the most yards per game, 117.3. Akil Harris has the best yards per carry average of any running back among the top 10 in the conference. Harris is averaging 5.9 yards a carry.
If you hadn't heard, the San Diego State game has been moved to 11:00 a.m. The move was made to accomodate ESPN, which will air the game on ESPN2.