Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing Needs to be Said

Here are some thoughts on the Bruins:

  • The Bruin offense has struggled most of the year (9th in the conference in scoring offense and total offense)

  • Injuries have really hurt UCLA this year and none more so than RB Khalil Bell. Since Bell was hurt in the 1st quarter of the WSU game, UCLA has averaged only 269 yds and 17.5 points (over 4 games)

  • The Bruins have been more successful when Pat Cowan has been healthy enough to play at quarterback, averaging 27 points and 366 yards per game (Washington, WSU, Cal, Arizona)

  • It will be very difficult for the Bruins to run consistently on the Trojans. Bruins will try and make some plays in the passing game and likely attempt at least 1 trick play. Bruins have been held under 3 yards a carry 4 times this year (BYU, Utah, Oregon St and ND) and under 4 yards a carry another 4 times (WSU, AZ, ASU and Oregon)

  • I expect Cowan to start this game and give the Bruins a bit of a spark. As mentioned above, UCLA just plays better with Cowan at the helm

  • Cowan or no Cowan, UCLA will struggle to run the ball and protect the passer. I like the match up of the USC DL vs UCLA OL

  • Last year the Trojans completely shut down the Bruins and still lost...the big question is what can the USC offense do this year?

  • The UCLA defense is very formidable again this year. They run a very aggressive scheme with tons of blitzing

  • It continues to work for the Bruins as they are ranked 3rd in the conference in run defense, 2nd in tackles for loss and 4th in scoring defense

  • The Bruins get to the quarterback very well and use blitzing linebackers to create negative plays in the running game. However, UCLA has given up its share of big plays this year...both on the ground and through the air

  • So why will this year be different for the Trojan offense? Here are the Top 10 reasons to be optimistic:
  1. USC can game plan against what the Bruins did last year (which by the way is very similar to what Stanford did this year)
  2. Bruins had 2 weeks to prepare last year, 1 week this year (Trojans have 9 days this year vs 1 week last year)
  3. Last year the Trojans were coming off 3 huge back to back to back victories over Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. 2 games in last 21 days this year
  4. Healthy and productive fullback this year in Havilli vs no fullback last year. Big impact on the running (and short passing) game
  5. Depleted running backs last year (only true frosh Gable healthy). This year the Trojans have CW, McKnight and Stafon
  6. Fred Davis was not a part of the offense last year due to Jarrett and Smith...this year he is the leading receiver. A prominent TE makes it more difficult for safeties and linebackers to run blitz without penalty
  7. Last year the Bruins had 2 dominant defensive ends (Hickman and Davis) and 2 outstanding defensive tackles (Brown and Harwell). This year Hickman is gone and Harwell is injured. Big difference
  8. No game breaking speed last year for the Trojans. Rojo and McKnight have the ability to make aggressive defenses pay this year
  9. Booty had a bad ankle last year which limited his mobility. This year he is healthy...expect some roll outs
  10. Coliseum. Bruins are a much different team on the road, particularly defensively. At home they are allowing 19pts per game and on the road they are allowing 27 pts per game

  • I think USC will use the running backs, fullback and tight end in the passing game (or at least as decoys) to keep the UCLA linebackers and safeties honest. If USC is successful at this (thus slowing down the blitz)...the play book can open up

  • UCLA will counter by playing tight man to man (including putting SS Horton on Fred Davis). I like the match up of our OL run blocking against the Bruins...particularly running right at them. USC will also use a reverse to Rojo to slow down the pursuit

  • Tons of play action from Booty...much like ASU game. I am hopeful the Trojans can make some big plays

  • This is a huge game for Booty and Sark...if the offense clicks, the Trojans roll

  • Special teams can be a factor in this game...on both sides. UCLA has returned 3 kickoffs for TDs this year and Austin is a dangerous punt returner. USC will counter with Rojo and McKnight

  • Turnovers are always critical, particularly in rivalry games

Another huge game with the Bruins with the Rose Bowl hanging in the balance. Can't wait until Saturday. See you at the Coliseum.

Fight On!


At February 2, 2008 at 11:19 AM, Blogger jeffreymuto said...

Andy & Liz,

This is Jeff Muto and I'm trying to track Andy down to invite him to a dinner with Waller, Bicos, Conzonire, Anderson(if I can find him), and Femino.

Shoot me an email if you get this.


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