Another big game coming up this weekend. Cal versus UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Cal fans are feeling confident coming off of the big blowout over Utah. UCLA fans, on the other hand, are dealing with the melt down of their program. They just got blown out on national TV (a pain us Cal fans know all too well). They have serious concerns regarding not only their head footbaw coach, but also their Athletic Director. It's definitely tough over there in Westwood right now.
But let's not get too cocky here. Cal has had some rough trips down to the Rose Bowl. In 2003, we missed 1,001 field goals. In 2005, Maurice Jones-Drew solved the Middle East crisis, created thousands of green jobs, and played all 22 positions for UCLA. In 2007, DeSean Jackson ran every route incorrectly! Every single one. In 2009, Cal won, but it took playing solely Mychal Kendricks on most plays to win it. Let's do that plan again!
To find out more about the game, we spoke with the SBNation experts on UCLA, BruinsNation. They stand deep in the never ending river of UCLA athletics information. In specific, we talked to Ryan Rosenblatt over there. He answered all of our questions and we are extraordinarily thankful for that! Thanks! So, check out his answers after the jump. GO BEARS!1. So the suspensions - how badly does losing the wideouts hurt? And how big a part of the defense was Marsh?
Losing the wideouts is going to be a real killer. We'll have only two regular receivers available on Saturday and Devin Lucien won't have his redshirt killed so he can play (if we were playing our best receivers he'd have been playing all year, but we don't play our best players). That leaves us with little on the outside. It'll be a lot of walk ons, two tight end sets and maybe even multiple running back looks, which we haven't used much this year.
As for Marsh, he's the most explosive of our defensive linemen. He can crash the pocket and leads the team in sacks. The UCLA defensive line has been blown apart game after game and doesn't make many big plays. Marsh was the one difference maker up front and now he's out.
2. What happened last week against Arizona? Was it an aberration from which UCLA will bounce back? Or do you expect the team to turn in similar performances down the road?
Last week's shellacking was certainly an aberration, but that doesn't mean we are good. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong last week and it's unlikely that that will happen again. That said, the offensive line is just average, we turn the ball over regularly, we're playing our back up QB, our already underachieving wide receivers are suspended and the one real play maker we have, Joe Fauria, doesn't get the ball. Oh yeah, and the offense is better than the defense. It's unlikely that the Bruins will be down 35 at the half anytime soon, but being able to beat decent teams is a little much. A team like Cal or any other mediocre team will probably have to throw us a bone or two.
3. Your AD still seems outwardly supportive of Rick Neuheisel. Is this just media-speak, or is Neuheisel's job still salvageable?
It looks like Neuheisel is on the way out, Dan Guerreo just won't make the move until after the year. The only way I can see Neuheisel keeping his job is if the Bruins make the Pac-12 Title Game and let's be serious. That's not happening.
4. What is the UCLA player on D that Cal fans should be worried about?
I would say Marsh, but he's suspended. I would say Tony Dye, but he's out with an injury. I think that leaves us with Patrick Larimore. He's a toss up because he over pursues and gets caught in traffic at times, but when he gets free he can really get into the back field. He hits hard and can knock the ball free too. He could also be anonymous. Oh, the joys of the UCLA defense.
5. What can you tell us about the UCLA special teams?
Jeff Locke remains one of the best punters in the country, but the coverage teams are struggling. The kicking game is a mess with Kip Smith injured and a walk on doing to the kicking. In short, Locke is good, the rest is a chance for opponents to go to town.
6. If UCLA has to focus on the running game on Saturday, what should Cal fans expect out of said running game?
There's a lot of misdirection in the running game with the pistol. That is especially true now that Kevin Prince is the QB. He's more mobile than Richard Brehaut and reads the option much better than Brehaut. The strength of the Bruins' running game is really in their depth at running back. Jonathan Franklin is a quick back, Derrick Coleman is the bruiser and both Jordon James and Malcolm Jones have proven effective when they've gotten chances.
With the play up front, you'll see a lot of zone blocking, which works well with the quicker linemen that the Bruins have. It keeps the Bruins from breaking big runs at times, but it has proven effective in getting to the second level regularly. The question is whether those initial holes close up on Saturday because of the zero threat passing game that allows Cal to stack the box.
7. Who would you like to punch int the face?
Dan Guerrero. By Saturday I'm guessing that Keenan Allen will join him.