Tag:UCLA
Posted on: November 15, 2010 12:57 pm
 

Bruin "would probably quit football" if no bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every December, the same complaint is brought up by pundit after pundit pining for ye olden golden days of yore when men were men, women made sandwiches, and fewer than a dozen college football teams were rewarded with bowl invitations: There's too many bowl games .

Putting aside the discussion of whether more college football is ever a bad thing, this argument ignores the reason (or one of the major ones, anyway) why bowl games sprang into existence in the first place: to reward college fotball players for their effort and success. And believe it or not, those players appreciate -- really appreciate -- the chance to play in even the most low-rent of those bowl games. Just ask UCLA and sophomore free safety Rahim Moore :
"If we didn't make a bowl game, I would probably cry the whole off-season ... Freshman year, I watched every bowl game and it was the worst feeling ever. For us not to finish strong and get to a bowl game, I would probably quit football. That's how bad it would feel."
Note that Moore isn't going to either cry all off-season or quit football if the Bruins don't qualify for a good bowl; they're merely aiming for a 6-6 record (sitting at 4-5, they'll need to take two of three from Washington , Arizona State , and USC ) and somewhere to go for the postseason. (Our CBSSports.com bowl projections do have the Bruins slotted for a respectable trip to El Paso for the Sun Bowl , thanks in part to the Pac-10 earning a second BCS berth with Stanford ).

It's more than a little doubtful, of course, that Moore would seriously consider abandoning his football career if the Bruins don't earn a berth to Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl . But nonetheless, the sentiment expressed by Moore (and his UCLA teammates) makes clear how badly the players on even middle-of-the-road teams want the carrot of a bowl game. It's fine to argue there's too many bowl games on the annual docket, but it has to be remembered that for each fewer bowl game, that's two more teams of Moores who have spent the weekly hourly equivalent of a full-time job during the season and gotten as a bonus the chance to spend their December watching their opponents on TV.

Posted on: November 15, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 10:21 am
 

Locker practices, status uncertain for Thursday

Posted by Chip Patterson

Washington quarterback Jake Locker was back on the practice field taking snaps with his teammates this weekend for the first time since October 30, but there are still no promises for his return to the starting lineup.  Locker is recovering from a broken rib suffered against Stanford two weeks ago, and has utilized the Huskies' off-week to get back to playing shape.  Locker split reps with backup Keith Price during Washington's weekend practices, working on a short week in preparation for Thursday's conference battle with UCLA.  As for Locker's status against the Bruins?  Head coach Steve Sarkisian did sound incredibly optimistic, but did not give any official status update in his statements after Saturday's practice.

"I thought he moved around okay,'' Sarkisian said to reporters after practice. "We will just have to take it day-by-day to assess how he responds from one day to the next. I'm not going to make any grand statements as far as 'is he playing, is he not.' We just need to assess it here for a couple days.''

Todd Milles, of the Tacoma News Tribune, writes that Sarkisian may not make a decision on Locker until Wednesday.  Doctors are very encouraged with how quickly he has recovered from the injury, but it is unlikely that he will be 100 percent before Saturday's game.  Price, a redshirt freshman, was issued a tall order for his first career start against Oregon in Autzen Stadium.  He completed 14 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.  If given the chance to start again his task will be much easier against the Bruins defense, which has given up 33.5 points per game in conference play.  


Posted on: November 14, 2010 1:36 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 1:37 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 13)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon can win ugly, too. To be fair to the Ducks, they weren't exactly dominated in their 15-13 win in Berkeley; they outgained Cal by more than 100 yards, held the Bears to 193 yards total and a miserable 2.5 yards per-pass, and only gave up a second touchdown on a Darron Thomas fumble in the end zone.

But they also scored their only first-half touchdown on a Cliff Harris punt return, averaged a stunningly weak 2.9 yards per-carry, eked out the final two-point margin by virtue of their made two-point try and Cal's failed attempt, and could have easily lost if not for Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio short-circuiting his own 24-yard field goal with a stutter-step procedure penalty and missing the subsequent 29-yard try. Every national title contender has to win games when they're not at their best, but Oregon was so far away from their best Saturday night they'd have to send it a postcard.

In the end, it didn't matter, as behind Thomas and a hobbled LaMichael James the Ducks changed philosophies on the fly to a clock-churning, yards-chewing ground-exclusive outfit that ate up the game's final 9:25 on one drive . That kind of versatility could prove to be the difference between a national champion and a slip-up before Glendale ... even if the Ducks would prefer not to have to put it to use again until there's a crystal football awarded to the victor.

2. Washington State should keep Paul Wulff.
Let's be fair: the Cougars' rehabilitation, even after their 31-14 upset-of-the-Pac-10's year against Oregon State today, is progressing verrrrry ... sloooooooowly. One FBS win in 2008, that one over winless Washington. One in 2009, over SMU in overtime. Until today, none in 2010.

But that hasn't meant it hasn't been progressing at all . After getting totally obliterated on a weekly basis two years ago, the Cougars have been substantially more competitive this season: 42-28 vs. UCLA , 43-23 vs. Oregon, 38-28 vs. Stanford , 20-13 vs. Cal. You could see the game coming where the Cougars put everything together and took down some unsuspecting favorite. And that game came today: quarterback Jeff Tuel had the game of his career, hitting 10-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding 79 yards in the ground; the rest of a surprisingly productive run game chipped in 142 yards and three touchdowns; and the much-maligned Cougar defense forced three turnovers, hounded Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz into a quiet 12-for-21 performance, and held the Beavers to 261 yards overall. Unexpected as Wazzu's triumph might have been, especially coming in Corvallis, it was no fluke.

So maybe progress has been slow. But it's there. Wulff has Wazzu pointed in the right direction, and after today he deserves at least one more season to see how far in that direction he can go.

(As for the Beavers, well, TCU and Boise would like a refund, please.)

3. Arizona State is the Pac-10's hard-luck team. The Sun Devils have had a couple of games in which they outgained their opponent by wide margins and lost, but today wasn't one of them; visiting Stanford enjoyed a 420-268 yardage advantage. But this is still a team that lost at Wisconsin on a late missed extra point; gave away an excellent shot at a huge upset of Oregon with a flood of turnovers; lost to Oregon State when a late drive ended in an interception; to USC on a late missed field goal. You'd think that eventually Dennis Erickson 's team could buy a break, and when the Devils went up 13-10 late in the third quarter on a Steven Threet touchdown pass, it looked like that break might finally be coming.

But it wasn't: the Cardinal took over on their 15 and went 85 yards to score an Owen Marecic touchdown with just over five minutes remaining. ASU's following drive went nowhere, and Stanford picked up three first downs to ice the game. The Sun Devils have now played the BCS's Nos. 1, 6, and 7 teams and lost by a total of 16 points. But they'll still have to sweep their final two games vs. UCLA and at Arizona just to make a bowl game.

4. This isn't Mike Stoops' breakthrough season, either. Arizona has famously never been to the Rose Bowl, but even if Oregon made clear the Wildcats aren't getting there this year relatively early, Stoops could have still hoped for his first 10-win season and top-20 final ranking -- goals his team looked well on their way to fulfilling after their early-season win over Iowa .

Since then, though, the Wildcats have gone a ho-hum 4-3 with two of those wins over the Washington schools and the latest result a dispiriting 24-21 home loss to USC. The Trojans aren't a bad team by any means, but if the Wildcats want to be taken seriously as Pac-10 contenders, winning home games against their fellow upper-end-of-the-pack rivals (not to mention avoiding getting outrushed 205-51) is a step they'll have to take. Unless Arizona pulls a shocker in Eugene next weekend, eight regular season wins will be the ceiling.

Again.



Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:00 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 12:01 am
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Nov. 6)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. There really is no order in the Big 12.   The Big East and the ACC have caught a lot of flak this season for the overall lack of quality throughout their conferences, but the further we get into the Big 12 season, the more I wonder how different the Big 12 is.  Think about it, Texas has lost to UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor and now Kansas State this season.  The same Baylor team that beat Texas then went and got destroyed by Oklahoma State, who suffered its only loss to Nebraska, who suffered its only loss to Texas.  It's an insane circle that I just can't wrap my head around right now.

2. Nebraska is going to the title game.   With a narrow win against Iowa State on Saturday, and a Missouri loss against Texas Tech, the Cornhuskers are pretty much assured of winning the Big 12 North.  Nebraska already has a one-game lead on Mizzou in the standings, and with the tiebreaker from beating the Tigers last week, it's really a two-game lead.  Which means that Nebraska has to lose at least two of it's last three, and with teams like Kansas and Colorado remaining on the schedule, I don't think it's going to happen.

3. Bill Snyder thinks throwing is for wimps.
Kansas State manhandled Texas on Saturday night, winning by a final of 39-14.  They had nine passing yards in the game.  Seriously, only nine.  The score was 31-0 Wildcats before Collin Klein even bothered completing his first pass of the game.  That's how bad Texas is this season.  Even when it knows what its opponent is going to do, the Longhorns can't stop it.

4. Oklahoma State has the edge in the South.
  Talk about a perfect day for the Cowboys.  Not only do they rock Baylor's world in the morning, but get to return home in time to see Oklahoma lose to Texas A&M.   This means that Oklahoma State is the only team in the South with one loss, and it's already beaten two of the three teams beneath it with three losses.  So, essentially, the final game of the season against Oklahoma will probably settle who gets to face Nebraska in Dallas.

5. There is no lead Colorado cannot blow.
  You know, Dan Hawkins probably knows he's going to get fired, but until Saturday he thought he'd make it through the season at least.  That may no longer be the case.  Colorado had a 45-17 lead on Kansas in the fourth quarter on Saturday.  They lost the game 52-45.  I repeat, the Buffs blew a 45-17 lead in the fourth quarter as Kansas scored a school-record 35 points in the final frame.  If Dan Hawkins is still Colorado's head coach on Monday it'll be the biggest upset of the season.

Posted on: November 6, 2010 11:56 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2010 1:21 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 6)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. The biggest game of the league's season was played back on Oct. 2. And Oregon won it, 52-31 over Stanford . By this point, with the Ducks at least two games up on the rest of the league (and three on everyone but the Cardinal as soon as they dispose of Arizona ) and second-place Stanford two games up on everyone trailing them , there's absolutely no question who the best two teams in the conference are. Not that the league's schedule-makers could have forseen the Ducks' and Cardinal's dominance, but after a few seaosns with massive (and massively hyped) late-season showdowns with Rose Bowl berths on the line, this season whatever attention the Pac-10 garner will come exclusively from Oregon's run at Glendale.

2. Speaking of which, Oregon is the nation's best second-half team. We'd seen this movie before, against Tennessee , against Stanford, against USC: the Ducks look vaguely sluggish for 30 minutes or slightly more, and just as it appears they might be in genuine trouble, they floor it. Today's edition : a scoreless first quarter, couple of turnovers, an 18-13 lead early third quarter ... and three Duck touchdowns before the period is up, with two more just for fun in the fourth to end the game on 35-3 run. Your final: 53-16. Chip Kelly says he wants to wear his opponents out and crush them down the stretch, and whaddya know, that's what his teams do.

It won't be surprising if Cal or Oregon State take an early lead with the Ducks on the road, won't be a total shock if they carry an edge into the break, or even if they're up after 45 minutes. But we're long past the point where we can expect any team remaining on Oregon's schedule to play them even over the full 60 minutes.

3. Maybe Cal isn't schizophrenic. Maybe they just hate the road. The Bears went up to the Palouse today and nearly handed Paul Wulff his first Pac-10 win in his three seasons at Wazzu , falling behind 10-7 at the half and leading only 14-13 entering the fourth quarter before squeaking by 20-13 . New starting quarterback Brock Mansion didn't make anyone forget the injured Kevin Riley , hitting only 12-of-24 with a pair of picks against the league's worst defense.

Truthfully, we already knew Cal was terrible on the road; the win snapped a six-game losing streak away from Berkeley. But even "six-game losing streak" doesn't quite say "terrible on the road" the way "seven-point win over Washington State" does.

4. Stanford's defense is maybe the league's most underreported story. The Cardinal defense in 2009: 403 yards allowed per-game, 90th in the country. The Cardinal defense in 2010: 330 yards allowed per-game, 30th in the country. And that was before they held Arizona to just three first-half points and no touchdowns until the Stanford offense had already built a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter.

No question that between the likes of Andrew Luck and Chris Owusu and Stepfan Taylor and Jim Harbaugh 's precision pro-style attack,  the Cardinal is an offense-first team. But the difference between last year's 8-5 Sun Bowl team and this year's potential 11-1 BCS at-large selection is almost entirely the work first-year defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has done with his starless unit.

5. Oregon State is just another team. The early read on the Beavers was that after near-impossible assignments at Boise State and TCU but a vindication win at Arizona, Mike Riley 's team was better than their record, as they usually are in mid-October.

But after losing in overtime at Washington (losers at home to Arizona State and big losers at home to Stanford and Nebraska ) and now 17-14 at previously-reeling, 3-5 UCLA , it's time to acknowledge that the Beavers aren't top-25 material. In fact, at 4-4 and with games still to come against the Ducks, Cardinal, and Trojans, they may not even be bowl material.

6. Matt Barkley is in a slump. USC escaped Arizona State's upset bid 34-33 late Saturday thanks to some huge plays in the field goal department -- a blocked extra point returned for two Trojan points, a game-winning Joe Houston field goal, a wayward Sun Devil attempt with 90 seconds to play -- but the Trojans won't survive their grueling late-season stretch (starting with next week's visit to Arizona) without better play from their sophomore quarterbacking prodigy. Barkley threw three touchdowns against the Sun Devils, but also threw a pair of interceptions and settled for a mediocre average of 5.8 yards per-pass. Barkley has only dipped below the 7 yards-per-attempt mark three times this season, but it's happened each of the last two weeks. Those two games also account for half of his eight picks for the year. Where's the gunslinger who carpet-bombed Cal and nearly took down Stanford in Palo Alto?

Posted on: October 30, 2010 11:53 pm
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Oct. 30)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Nebraska will be playing for the Big 12 title. Forget about that loss to Texas at home a few weeks ago, unlike the Longhorns, the Cornhuskers will be back in Dallas for the Big 12 title game this season.  Its last in the conference. I just don't see a team left on the schedule that can knock off the Cornhuskers, especially if they play the way they did against Missouri on Saturday afternoon.  Speaking of the Tigers....

2. Missouri isn't quite ready for primetime. It's one thing to beat Oklahoma at home, which was a huge win for Missouri last week, but going on the road with the Big 12 North on the line is a completely different animal.  The Tigers got blown out of the water early by Roy Helu Jr, and just couldn't recover.  Still, just because I don't think it's going to happen doesn't mean it won't.  Missouri needs to shake this loss off because if they win out they are still alive for the conference championship and a BCS bowl.

3. Mike Sherman needs to listen to me sooner.   A few weeks ago I told him to bench Jerrod Johnson.   He didn't.  Now, this week, he finally handed the keys to the station wagon over to Ryan Tannehill, and Tannehill returned home with a Maserati and a full tank of gas.  Tannehill set a Texas A&M record with 449 yards passing and 4 touchdowns in the Aggies 45-27 rout of Texas Tech.

4. Things actually can get worse for Texas.
What's worse than losing two straight home games to UCLA and Iowa State?   Losing three straight home games to UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor. It's the first time Texas has lost to Baylor since 1997, and the first time its lost at home to the Bears since 1991.  All of which means Baylor gets to spend another week atop the Big 12 south.  I only wish that the now-defunct Baylor blog, Bear Meat , were still around to see this.  Since they aren't, however, we share this video in their honor.


Posted on: October 30, 2010 11:59 am
 

Game day weather updates, Week 9

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. It's most certainly fall across the land today, and while most stadiums are staying dry, the wind is a real factor in several of the games. Will it affect the passing games of the undefeated teams playing on the road today? All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Tennessee at No. 17 South Carolina, 12:00, Columbia, SC: Low 60s, clear

No. 20 Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 12:00, Manhattan, KS: Low 60s, clear

Afternoon kickoffs

Georgia vs. Florida, 3:30, Jacksonville, FL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy, breezy

No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Iowa, 3:30, Iowa City, IA: Low 60s, partly cloudy, windy

No. 7 Missouri at No. 14 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Mid 60s, clear, windy

No. 15 Arizona at UCLA, 3:30, Pasadena, CA: Low 60s, rainy 

Evening kickoffs

No. 3 Auburn at Ole Miss, 6:00, Vicksburg, MS: Low 60s, clear, breezy

No. 25 Baylor at Texas, 7:00, Austin, TX: Low 70s, clear, breezy

No. 8 Utah at Air Force, 7:00, Colorado Springs, CO: Low 60s, partly cloudy, windy

No. 1 Oregon at No. 24 USC, 8:00, Los Angeles, CA: Mid 60s, cloudy, early chance of rain

Late night kickoffs

Colorado at No. 11 Oklahoma, 9:15, Norman, OK: Low 60s, clear, breezy

No. 4 TCU at UNLV, 11:00, Las Vegas, NV: Upper 50s, partly cloudy

Posted on: October 26, 2010 9:04 am
Edited on: October 26, 2010 9:09 am
 

UCLA loses two more to team rules suspensions

Posted by Chip Patterson

When news originally broke of UCLA's potential suspensions for the Oregon game, sources were reporting that as many as six starters would be absent on the field due to failed team-issued random drug tests.  When the school announced team suspensions: only two players, wide receiver Josh Smith and F-back Morrell Presley, were suspended for the primetime showdown with the Ducks.    

But UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel is not done handing down the punishments in Westwood.  Wide receiver Rick Marvray and offensive tackle Sean Sheller have been issued one game suspensions for violating team rules and will not play against Arizona.  Similar to the suspensions of Smith and Presley, the Los Angeles Times is citing multiple sources in the program who have said all four suspensions are tied to positive tests in a recent drug screening.  According to the Times, UCLA's drug policy calls for a one-game suspension upon a third positive test. The first positive test results in the team doctor being told, mandatory counseling and future testing. The second failed test results in the coach and associate athletic director being notified, with more counseling and tests.

The suspensions cannot be blamed for UCLA's ineffective offense against the Ducks last Thursday, but it certainly did not help.  It is one of many issues on that side of the ball, along with consistency, efficiency, effectiveness, and not throwing the proverbial offensive fecal matter all over the field.

(Artwork courtesy of Tom Fornelli, Esq.)

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