Oregon Notes

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti comments about Saturday's game, along with comments from UCLA Head Coach Bob Toledo and quarterback Cory Paus...

UCLA Head Coach Bob Toledo talked about the importance of the Oregon game, and whether there is any revenge factor after the big loss last year to the Ducks.

-- "You hate to play with revenge but it's important that we play well. I think the team that wins this game is sitting in a good position. The other team is going to have to knock off a lot of people after this. It's going to be heck of a football game and it's meaningful. There is a developing rivalry with Oregon. A heck of a rivalry. All the games in recent years have been exciting, high-scoring games that have come right down to the wire. It's the team that had the ball last has pretty much won it. It's bigger because the coaches have been on both sides of it. I was at Oregon And this year, it's an exciting time. There are four undefeated teams in the Pac-10. Two of them are playing each other this week. They're the defending champion, and if you want to compete for a championship you have to knock off the champion. There's excitement in the air. We stepped it up a little more last week. There'll be even more intensity this week. Oregon is a good football team. They are the best team we will have played this year so far. Are they as good as they were last year? I don't know. We'll play them and I'll see. They're 5-0."

-- "Jason Fife is a real good passer. Joey Harrington was an excellent passer and had experience over Fife. But Fife is a better athlete. He has more mobility, he can run the option, which poses problems. He hasn't proved himself yet as much as Harrington."

On the difference in Oregon's defense this year: "Well, it's different year to year because of different personnel. But they're also doing more things. A lot of different defenses and a lot of man coverage schemes."

While many schools in the Pac-10 tend to compete with each other for many players in recruiting, Oregon is a bit different in relation to UCLA than other schools. At USC or Washington, their rosters are populated by many guys that UCLA legitimately recruited. Oregon's roster is filled with very few players that chose Oregon over UCLA, but mostly by players UCLA couldn't take because of academic concerns, or others that UCLA decided not to offer a scholarship. On Oregon's two-deep, UCLA seriously recruited three of its players – TE George Wrighster, LB Kevin Mitchell and DT Haloti Ngata. Ngata also had academic concerns but more than likely UCLA might have made concessions for him since he was such an elite prospect. UCLA also regarded redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Clemens highly, but he chose Oregon very early in the recruiting process. Six other players on Oregon's two-deep UCLA couldn't recruit due to academics. Nine players on the Ducks' two-deep were on UCLA's list but UCLA never recruited aggressively enough to offer. Perhaps the one UCLA would like to have back now is Keenan Howry, Oregon's talented senior wide receiver who is from Los Alamitos High. Ever since UCLA passed on the "too-small" Howry and he went on to Oregon to star, UCLA has very obviously been re-considering their view of "too-small" wide receivers.

When asked about whether there were any regrets concerning the recruitment of some of Oregon's players, Toledo said: " There are always some players that you'd like to have that other teams have. But there are reasons why you don't have those players. One is – scholarship limits. Keenan Howry. We would have loved to have had Keenan Howry. We picked another receiver. We had one scholarship available for a receiver at that time. We said, ‘Well, we want this guy, he's bigger, he's faster, he's this and that.' We could have gotten Howry in school. He's one guy I'd like to have. I told him that when I saw him at Pac-10 Media Day. But the second reason, there are guys that we can't get into school here. I don't worry about that. You can't do anything about it because you don't have any control over it. The ones that I have problems are the ones you can get it. I wish it were like the old days when you had 105 scholarships. I could have had Keenan Howry, and then he wouldn't be playing against me."

Oregon Head Coach Mike Belotti comments...

On UCLA this season:

"I'm very impressed. They are playing right now as well as anybody. They have a lot of talent. I see a very fast, athletic defense. They look so fast to me on film. The linebackers, Chillar, Reese and Havner, have amazing agility. They look like DBs out there they run so well. That's a concern. They link to that front line and that talented secondary. I don't see how we can pick on them.

"I see a lot of weapons on offense. And they seem to go real deep. I've been impressed with the play of Cory Paus this year, and certainly guys like Bragg and Perry and Seidman. It's tough to cover a great tight end when you have receivers like that. Then they go three deep at running back, Ebell, Harris or whoever. What they did against Oregon State, 600-and-some yards, is a tremendously impressive performance, especially on the road. Defensively they really played well and I think they're coming of age. UCLA has seemed to hit their stride and they're playing very well and confidently right now.

On preparing for Tyler Ebell and UCLA's weapons on offense:

"They have the whole gamut at running back. With White there is the big powerful guy, then they have Harris who combines both size and quickness, and then Ebell who is so quick and so fast. We've tried to prepare, but I'm not sure how you really do it. You prepare for the plays, but the plays will look a little different depending on who carries the ball. And that's tough because we can't simulate that in practice. We don't have backs like that, certainly not on our scout team. I don't think you can load up to take away what Ebell does because again the receivers require special attention. Plus the offensive line, the two tackles, Bohlander and Saffer, have done a very nice job. So, it's going to be a whale of the game."

On having built the Oregon program...

"I'd like to think we're at the stage that we can reload and not rebuild every year. I don't know if we are. Every year we still have to pretty much earn the respect and that's okay.

On Jason Fife and this year's Oregon team:

"I think Jason Fife has done a very nice job. I think at this point his statistics might be better than what Joey Harrington's were. We're still a work in progress. As a team, we're playing with pretty good confidence, and we're improving and developing. We still have quite a bit of youth on defense, both in the defensive line and the secondary. And we're pretty young on the offensive line. We're starting three sophomores and two juniors. But I feel like we have the makings of a real good team, but it's early. We've played five games, but it's still less than half of the season. My biggest concern right now is taking care of the penalty situation. It has not hurt us yet, to a degree of losing a football game, but it's certainly an area of concern."

On the Pac-10 being the true testing ground of the Oregon schedule:

"I think the Pac-10 is the true test for us. We passed the first test against Arizona, even though they were somewhat beat up. I was pleased that we were able to go on the road, get the victory and play with enthusiasm and intensity."

On the Oregon program now having a bullseye on its back:

"I've tried to tell my players that as the defending conference champion that certainly the bullseye has grown. Being the only undefeated team in the conference, the only top ten rated team, there's no question about it. Arizona used last year's game against us as motivation, and I'm not sure what UCLA will do."

On last year's game against UCLA:

"Last year that was a tremendous football game that came down to the very last play. Most of our games with UCLA have been like that. We put up the winning points when we had to, played hard and well on the road. I think every team we expect to get their best, inspired performance."

On Mike Seidman:

"If you notice, Cory Paus and Mike Seidman have some sort of telepathic communication. I watched a couple of plays where Seidman broke a route and the ball got to him. It's amazing. There's something there. When your tight end is that good of an athlete, and you have a solid running and passing game, he can become a go-to guy simply because you can't take all of those things away. I don't think you can double anyone as much as you'd like to because that opens up the opportunity to run the football. The balance of their overrall talent makes it very difficult. But Mike Seidman is as impressive a tight end as I've seen this year"

Cory Paus weighed in a bit about the matchup against Oregon...

On how big of a game it is:

"They're #1 on the big game list. They're highly-ranked and I'm sure they'll be ready to play and have every reason to be confident."

On facing the defense designed by Oregon Defensive Coordinator Nick Allioti, the former UCLA defensive coordinator:

"I liked Coach Allioti a lot when he was here. We got a long well. I liked him as a person. And I've enjoyed playing him the last two years when I've played against him. I know what kind of defense he runs for the most part. I know he likes to bring a lot of pressure. I'm sure he won't change it for us this week."

Bruin Report Online Top Stories