San Diego State
First order of business this week: Devising a game plan for stopping San Diego State's high-octane offense. Head Coach Bob Toledo didn't want to give away any of his game plan, but he said there would be some tweaks to the defense to do so. "Without giving away the game plan, we have to stop their passing game. We can't give them big plays. They've scored a lot of points, particularly the last two weeks. They've gotten better, they're learning their system. They have some big guys. We have to try to take it away. They'll make yards. They'll make some plays. They'll score some points. We just have to not let them make too many yards or score too many points."
A big factor in limiting San Diego State's offense would be UCLA's offense sustaining some long drives to keep the Aztecs off the field. "We have to do is to keep our defense off the field," Toledo said. They have to get off the field, first of all, and they know that. But we have to keep them off. We have to have drives. And we have to get points off the drives, to keep the pressure on San Diego State. But a part of that is keeping our defense off the field so they're fresher during the game." Toledo said that sustaining a successful running game is key to do this. "You need to have a successful running game that takes up time. You need to run the ball and be successful doing it."
Toledo said that he fully intends once again to play Drew Olson this week, but didn't say in what stage of the game Olson would go in.
Running Game Problems
Some of the problems with the running game last week against Colorado might be the result of a spotty performance from the fullback position. When asked about Pat Norton, who was playing for the first time this season due to injury, Toledo said, "He didn't perform very well. He hadn't played since Arizona State. He left his feet way too much, and he wasn't making contact with guys. I expect him to get better as he gets more reps in practice. Hopefully Norton we'll get back in there and get ready to go. J.D. Groves has also been injured. He got hurt last week in practice, and that set him back a bit for last week's game. We've been in a bind at fullback because of injuries and inexperience." Toledo then admitted that that could be one of the contributing reasons why White hasn't played as much tailback as they might have liked. "We've had to use him at fullback, since we don't have a lot of fullbacks right now. That's one of the reasons why Manuel is playing there." As Norton improves, Toledo said he foresees using White more at tailback. That would combine White, who is 245 pounds, and Norton, who is 260 pounds, for what Toledo called "the elephant backfield."
Toledo also commented about the performance of Nate Fikse in the Colorado game. "One of the things we were trying to do against Colorado is kick it away from that kid, and when Fikse tried to kick it away on an angled kick he shanked a couple. He hit a couple, too. He's got to continue to get better of placing the ball inside the 20. You'd rather have it at the 18 than kick it in the goal. We're talked about it with him."
New Practice Wrinkle
There was a bit of a new wrinkle in practice Tuesday, with the first-string going up against the second-string more often. "What we did today is the 2s against the 1s," Toledo said. "Normally we do the 1s against the 1s a little bit, but one of the unique things in today's practice was we had a couple of periods where 1s and 2s went against each other, instead of 1s agaisnt the scout teams, to try to get better quality reps. To get the 2s more reps, instead of watching the 1s. The 1s and scout team get better and the 2s don't."
Did UCLA recruit San Diego State's Stars?
With San Diego State's receivers J.R. Tolver and Kassim Osgood, and their quarterback Adam Hall, being so effective so far this season, Toledo was asked if he had recruited them. "With the two receivers, one was a transfer and the other wasn't a highly recruited guy. The quarterback showed a real interest in us when he was going to transfer, but we had some freshmen coming in and we didn't want to mess that up. We knew that last year we had a chance to get a couple of good freshmen quarterbacks and we didn't want to hurt that. We're pleased with what we got."
When asked if UCLA competes with San Diego State much in recruiting, Toledo said: "Basically we recruit different guys. There are very few guys we compete against each other for, to be perfectly honest with you. It's a different league and it's a different school."
-- Keith Carter practiced and looked to have good mobility.
-- Patrick Pierre-Louis didn't practice and looks to still be out for San Diego State.
-- Freshman offensive lineman Alex Potasi was injured. The extent of the injury is unknown.
-- Backup middle linebacker Dennis Link rolled his ankle in practice and his status is unknown. Justin London got most of the reps with the #2 defense for the day.
Watching their son get increased reps in practice Tuesday were London's parents, who are in Southern California this week. They attended the Colorado game, and have been staying with their relatives in San Diego, which makes it convenient for them to attend the San Diego State game.