The stakes are higher with UCLA and conference play this Saturday and many remember their last encounter with the Bruins and saw how they took care of business against Illinois last week.
RB Kenny James
James was one of the early season highlights. The Dos Palos HS standout had 75 yards on 17 carries including a late touchdown. With the quarterback situation still surrounded by gray Seattle skies, James and the tailbacks know they will be counted on again to take on some of the load.
"I think the running game worked really well for us last Saturday," said James. "Of course we got behind so we had to throw passes more than we had wanted to."
James knows all too well about the recent success UCLA had against Washington. The Bruins have had the Huskies number for the past seven years winning six of their last seven encounters.
"They beat us for like the four or five years or something like that but like I said, I think the bye really helped us," said James. "I think the players came out more focused and more determined to come in this Saturday and get a victory over UCLA."
The bad taste left by Fresno State may be gone, but it definitely was not forgotten.
"You can't expect to win a game with five turnovers," said James. "We all expect that ups and downs will happen during the season but we just need to overcome the turnovers and not make the same mistakes this Saturday and go out there and play well against a determined UCLA team."
James took advantage of this bye week to do some personal scouting and watched UCLA game.
"I watched them play Illinois. I also watched the Oklahoma State but like I said, UCLA is a good team and they have always been a big challenge for us and it's just going to be exciting for us to go out and get a victory."
WR Charles Frederick
Frederick still remembers vividly what transpired in the second half of last year's game in Pasadena. The senior captain is looking to erase that sour memory.
"Oh they got last year, but we're not worried about last year," he said. "We're just worried about this year and trying to go out and practice hard all week until the game comes."
According to Frederick, the bye week gave the team the chance to reflect on the mistakes of their last game to prepare to open conference play on the right foot this weekend.
"We are ready to play," said a determined Frederick. "We wish we didn't have that bye week but we took advantage of it to get ready for UCLA. I know they got some good running backs, good receivers, and their defense is pretty good. We just have to go out and out hustle them all game."
"We're going to get rid of that bad taste."
As one of this year's team captains, much has been said about the chronicles of the young man from Florida. In four years, he has changed from a player going "M.I.A." to team captain and being a pillar of strength for the team.
"I don't see myself changing that much," he said. "Some people say I need to talk more, but I'm kind of the quiet captain on the team so I just got to talk up more. I would say Khalif (Barnes) and Zach (Tuiasosopo) talk a lot. They are like the backbone for this team so we just have to stay focused."
OT Khalif Barnes
As one of the other captains on the team, Barnes was quick to praise the quiet leadership of Frederick.
"He talks with his play," said Barnes. "And that's another reason he's a captain."
As one of the vocal captains, Barnes said he was comfortable as being just that. The senior has been a regular request by the media for interviews throughout his career.
"I think you need a balance of both. I try to be a ‘do-it' captain too. I try not to talk a whole lot. I'm comfortable with that role because Joe (Lobendahn) doesn't really talk much. ET doesn't really talk. DJ (Derrick Johnson) doesn't really talk. Zach talks a little bit. So you got to have one of us talking somewhere."
So is Barnes the "team spokesman" for team meetings and interviews?
"I don't even try to do that," he said. "I spoke to media one time when I was younger and they said I spoke well then I got kept asking for interviews but I don't mind it. Some people talk only when we do well, some people don't like doing it when we don't but I'll do it for good times and bad times. I just love to play the game and this comes as a part of it."
Barnes admitted that the second half of last year's game has been to rest by many players, but admitted that it wasn't the easiest things to do.
"I mean I thought about it a few times but it was last year," he said. "So we'll just have to have a fresh start this year and see if we can get it done."
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