UCLA 101: Year of the Weasel

WSU HAS NEVER beaten the devil in the sweatervest and unless Slick Rick turns his luck around, Saturday will likely be their final chance. The Bruins are floundering in their fourth season of the Rick Neuheisel era -- he blew up his staff in the off-season and is struggling to hold together a young team lacking leadership. And unless Neuheisel can piece together an unlikely bowl run, he will be..

... the next coach out the door at UCLA. WSU fans would be more than happy to be his valet.

Cougars (3-1) vs Bruins (2-3)
7:30 pm Pacific Time

The Rose Bowl (91,750)

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UCLA by 3.5

UCLA won 42-28 in 2010 at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA leads 33-18-1.

See below


Players to Know
Jonathan Franklin, RB: Running Back is the Bruins strongest position and Franklin is another undersized but extremely effective runner in a similar mold to what WSU faced last week in Rodney Stewart. Fellow Bruin Derrick Coleman should also see a fair share of the carries and brings a more bruising style. Freshman Jordan James is a burner in the Maurice Jones-Drew mold.
Richard Brehaut, QB: Brehaut has taken over for the struggling Kevin Prince but folks in Westwood are already grumbling for coaches to burn super-recruit Brett Hundley's redshirt as soon as he gets healthy. Brehaut has quick feet and has been far more careful with the ball than Prince, but he has struggled to handle the pass rush. He loses accuracy rapidly under pressure or when throwing on the run. But he is also dangerous when tucking and running off the edge.
Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree, WR: Rosario and Embree are a couple of big receivers that combine with a pair of enormous tight ends to give the Bruins the biggest group of targets in the country. But the group as a whole continues to underachieve. None are a serious threat to get behind the defense. Jump balls and stop routes are more their specialty.

The Bruins will run out of pistol formations; often with twin tight ends. It is a timing offense with lots of power running and quick passes. The Bruins have had a very reliable running game but seem to have trouble generating points with it. They've moved down the field frequently but seem to wilt in the red zone.

Attack the line of scrimmage and make life difficult for Brehaut and the backs. Blitz the linebackers regularly to put pressure on the QB. Don't try and get physical with UCLA's huge receivers but don't give them a cushion either. Keep everybody close to the action as UCLA simply isn't built for getting over the top of the defense. Expect the Bruins to occasionally break away 20 yard runs but do whatever you can to prevent strings of five yarders. Sell out in the red zone where UCLA is likely to use all four downs if it looks practical.


Players to Know
Patrick Latimore MLB: A big, strong tackler who plugs up the middle effectively.
Sean Westgate, OLB: One of the few seniors and arguably, overachievers on this defense. He has two of the Bruins three interceptions this season and will be asked to help out in pass coverage frequently.
Datone Jones, DE: Injuries have held back the Bruins most hyped defender for most of his career. Teams have run the ball away from him regularly and he's made little impact when they haven't.

The Bruins run a vanilla 4-3 with very little pre-snap motion. They've struggled against the run (No. 96) and pass (No. 98) despite a big defensive line and very fast secondary. They sold out to try and control the line of scrimmage against Stanford and failed. As has become tradition with many Bruin defenses before them, they are less than the sum of their talent. The secondary is banged up and protecting it will likely be the focus of their defensive gameplan. They will likely take their licks on the ground in an effort to keep the Cougs in front of them and hope for some errant interceptions. Former Bruin d-line coach Todd Howard should be able to offer the Cougs some valuable insight into controlling the line of scrimmage.

This defense is emotionally spent. Stanford seemed to be toying with them at times and ran the ball down their throats with regularity. They got a particularly good push running towards the right side (away from Jones). The opportunity should be there for the Cougs to do the same as folks are beginning to finally fear Marshall Lobbestael. Set up the deep play action pass and watch them crumble. Do not force throws as emotion-building turnovers could be their best hope.

Punter Jeff Locke is fine but it is an understatement to say UCLA has lots of faith in its kickers. The Bruins have missed four PATs this season including two last week in Stanford. They also missed field goals of 32 and 39 yards. The Cougars should probably expect a fake if the Bruins line up for anything other than a game winner.

  • This game will be decided by big plays and turnovers. UCLA seems poorly built to achieve either.
  • The Bruins needed fourth quarter rallies to beat both San Jose State and Oregon State, their only wins of the season. They were desperate to get a big win against Texas or Stanford and instead got crushed in both games.
  • This UCLA team is in serious danger of getting down on itself at any moment. If the Cougs break out of the gate quickly, expect the fans to turn on them and the coaches to panic. Keep the hammer down and emotions cool.

    Cougs 30, Bruins 24

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