[We're talking UCLA Bruins today. We spoke with Ryan Rosenblatt from BruinsNation about UCLA and have his thoughts on the game at the end of today's roundtable.]
TwistNHook: Cal could be riding a 4 game losing streak into this game. I know it's defeatest to say that, but all of @UW, @Ore, USC, and Utah scare me. Can UCLA be a sweet, sweet tonic for that? Can Neuheisal be the salve that Cal needs? Playing down in LA has been tough during the Tedford era. We finally one back in 2009. Can Cal do it again?
Yellow Fever: God, I hope so. I wouldn't bet on it though.
Berkelium97: Finally, a game to give Cal fans some glimmer of hope that we may win!
If things go horrifically wrong, Cal might only have 2 wins heading into this game. It is not inconceivable, however, that UCLA may only have one win coming into this game (San Jose State). If both teams have sub-par seasons, this could be a real pillowfight. Thankfully, Cal's ceiling is much higher than UCLA's this season, while UCLA's floor is significantly lower. At best, this will be a matchup between a 5-2 Cal and a 4-3 UCLA. In any case, it's tough to imagine our defense will be stumped by the conference's worst offense.
OhioBear: True, Coach Tedford's teams have had their struggles in the Southland. But I'd like to think that we got that monkey off our back with the win down there in 2009. Whereas we won that game because of our offensive weaponry and Ucla's offensive ineptitude, the Cal defense is the reason we have a good chance to win this year's game. The Cal defense stifled the Ucla offense last year at Memorial Stadium, and I have considerable doubt that Ucla's offense will be that much better (if at all) this season. And despite the loss of guys like Cameron Jordan, Mike Mohamed, and Chris Conte off last year's defense, I still think that Coach Pendergast will have a formidable defense on the field this year. This is a game we SHOULD win. But as a Cal fan, the most you can commit to is cautious optimism.
NorCalNick: There are three games on the schedule that I expect Cal to win. Presbyterian, Washington St., and UCLA. I suppose it's possible that the Bruins will finally turn some type of corner. But until I see some evidence I'm going to continue to consider them one of the two or three worst teams in the conference. Their offensive line and quarterback situations are perpetual disasters, they can't settle on a functional offensive scheme, their defenses are perpetually underachieving relative to some of the individual talent and they haven't been recruiting well enough lately to give anybody real optimism.
Kodiak: There are few things as satisfying as running around the Kodiak household with Little K on my shoulders yelling "How do you like me now!?!?!" celebrating a Cal win over ucla.
But there have been far too many trips down to SoCal ending in heartbreak ("Don't kick it to Jones-Drew...Don't kick it to Jones-Drew...Don't - aw, )(**&(!) to ever feel comfortable going into this one.
The ucla offense has been almost mind-boggling in its ineptitude the past few years. Norm Chow is out, and former 49ers QB coach Mike Johnson is in. As Niners' fans can attest, Mike Johnson was instrumental in creating the offensive juggernaut that was the SF offense these past few years....*crickets*. Yeah. That's "offensive" as in "rancid."
I'm not so sure how a change in coordinator will make a huge difference here. They have an injury-riddled and underwhelming Oline, and their receivers/TE's prone to dropsies. Both Prince and Brehaut have been injury-plagued (or cursed) and are inconsistent, at best. Super-stud frosh QB Hundley has already succumbed to the LA QB lifestyle...and tore his meniscus over the summer. The one area of strength is their running game.
For once, we might actually have an edge, or at least not a huge disadvantage on special teams. Their annoyingly automatic place-kicker finally graduated. Their punter has a big leg, but is coming off of hip surgery. One of their returners is nicknamed "Joystick" (Jordan James), so apparently he has some moves. Franklin and Coleman are both capable runners. What I like best about them is how they really commit to a pose when they're starring in a linebacker's highlight video. (Insert Kendricks tackle here!) I think that if we can limit big plays (like blown tackles leading to Franklin's run last year), our D should have their way here.
On defense, the bruins will really miss Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore. They have a definite talent at defensive end (Marsh, Owa, Jones, Holmes,) and an experienced secondary. The key here will be not letting their D feed off of the home crowd's energy, and avoiding turnovers. If Cal just plays smart, disciplined football, I think that we'll eventually wear down their defense.
On paper, we should feel good about this one. In reality, we're Cal fans. Let the worryfest begin.
HydroTech: Yeah, I have to agree with Twist that Cal could very well be riding a four game lose streak into this game. And while the UCLA game is a game that we probably should win, there are no guarantees -- especially since the game is down in LA.
Berkelium97: UCLA is going to have a tough time scoring against a one-year-wiser Pendergast, whose defense stifled them last season. Even though the offense is still mostly unknown at this point, we have enough athleticism among Allen, Jones, Harris, Maynard, and Bigelow that we ought to be able to put up several touchdowns. Cal cruises 31-10.
OhioBear: This will be a game sort of like 2009. Cal does some good things and looks like it should win easily. But we leave the door open just enough for us to think that Ucla has a chance to win it. But in the end, we make just enough plays to win, with the score looking more comfortable than the game actually was.