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Cal-UCLA Football Competition News Roundup

In many ways, an internet blog takes after the personalities of its moderators. Its Marshawnthusiasts. That's why CougCenter is the quintessential of cool. And Addicted To Quack is so slow. Mentally.

Here at CGB, we are one thing and one thing alone: Ridiculously self-centered. We're self-centered when it comes to discussing our personal lives, but we're also self-centered when it comes to discussing our beloved Cal Bears. We always talk about Cal. Cal this. Cal that. Tedford this. Marshawn that. And it's been great. We couldn't have become the 3rd best Cal sports oriented web log without it.

But I know how it makes those other teams feel. Stanford feels like we just don't care about them. Which we don't. And Arizona State feels like we don't spend enough time together. Given everything I know about every ASU student I've ever met, I agree 100%. We need to spend more time at ASU.

But this self-absorption, it ends now. Because after the fold, we take a look at UCLA. We look at some news paper articles. We read some of our SBN brethren, the Bruins Nation. We go on a magical mystery tour of all things Southern Branch.

First, we have some information on a cornerback battle that could have some serious implications for the game. We all know Kevin Riley needs to get things going to help take the pressure off of Jahvid Best. And we all know that Verner is kind of like the Syd'Quan Thompson of LA. But what is going on on the other side of the field?

In the meantime, [Sheldon] Price will continue to fill in. He had some difficult moments, including having his 160-pound body ricochet harmlessly off Ducks receiver Jeff Maehl on a slant pass that resulted in a 20-yard touchdown.

"After watching the tape on Sunday, I pushed it behind me," Price said of his performance in the game. "I threw it out because there is no point dwelling on the past."

The UCLA depth chart listed Price and sophomore Courtney Viney as possible starters this week, but Bullough said Price would keep the job.

The normal CB, Aaron Hester, is injured, so this might be an opportunity for Kevin Riley to get going. Nestor at Bruins Nation is puzzled by this decision:

Honestly, I don't get this decision. No doubt Sheldon is giving eveyrthing he can but to me it seems like Viney brings a more noticable physical presence in the way he covers and tackles (despiting giving up size). At least that's what I remember from the effort he gave against pretty athletic Tennessee receivers at Neyland stadium. Anyway, we will see how it goes on Saturday.

The concern with Price appears to be with his size. We do not have the largest, most physical receivers, so I am not sure if we can take advantage of a diminutive corner back. But, hopefully, Marvin Jones and Verran Tucker can get going. We get Boateng back, which is certainly good news.

From the same article as above, further information on the UCLA RB situation:

Tailback Johnathan Franklin returned to practice Wednesday and tested his sprained left ankle, getting a handful of carries.

His availability remains in question for Saturday's game against California. Franklin, the Bruins' leading rusher with 332 yards, was injured in the 24-10 loss to Oregon.

Franklin, who gives the Bruins speed in the backfield, was unable to get in a full workout.

It leaves coaches pondering other options.

"We'll find out on Saturday," Franklin said about whether he would play.

Asked what was difficult about running on the ankle, Franklin said, "No comment on that." Asked if it still hurt, Franklin said, "No comment on that."

Asked if he was told not to comment, Franklin smiled.

Their running game is not strong to start with, so I'm pretty sure some back up RB will come in and kill us Arizona 2008 style. It's in the cards!

And who could that backup RB be? Why Christian Ramirez!

Ramirez presents a completely different option than the team's more diminutive backs. At 6-foot-2, Ramirez is the biggest Bruin back, with two inches on Coleman, four inches on Franklin and six inches on Knox and Thigpen.

His size gives him a built-in advantage in pass protection and in the receiving game, though he was admittedly shaky with his blocking against Oregon.

"I need to try to use the combination that I have - the size and speed. And I pride myself on catching the ball, being a receiving back. I can split out and turn it into a five-wide easily. I still need to get some more experience in (protection). I felt a little rocky out there Saturday. I'm coming. I need to get back into the groove, and try to establish myself again."

UCLA does have some injury concerns. Another is with star LB, Reggie Carter. He does appear likely to play, even though his practice has been limited:

Carter expects to be in his usual position – middle linebacker – for Saturday’s game.

"They told me to relax a little bit but my knee feels great," he said. "I’m more anxious for Saturday than I am for Tuesday so I’m not complaining."

As agreeable as Carter was to sit out of Tuesday’s practice, it was a different story during the third quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Medical personnel were trying to examine him but the foremost thought in his mind was getting back into the game.

"I think I missed two plays and I was upset about that," he recalled. "The doctors want to examine you and poke on you. I said, ‘Just give me some Flexall and a sleeve and let me go.’ "

Carter is confident that the missed practice time won’t have a negative affect on him as he prepares for Saturday. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel agreed.

KTVU brings us some information on what to expect from both the Bruins Offense:

UCLA struggled mightily on offense against Oregon last week, finishing with just 211 total yards, and three turnovers certainly hurt the team's chances of winning the game as well. Kevin Prince returned from a two-game absence and was a bit rusty, completing 13-of-25 passes for 81 yards and one interception. The Bruins rushed for just 66 yards on 33 attempts and failed to score any points on both of their trips to the red zone. UCLA is generating just 20.2 ppg this season, an output that isn't going to scare any opponent. The Bruins are posting 282.8 total ypg, including just 112.6 rushing ypg at a clip of 3.4 ypc. The fact that the team has only managed seven offensive touchdowns in five games is proof of just how inept the offense has been. Whether it has been Prince, Kevin Craft or Richard Brehaut under center for the Bruins, the passing game has been weak. No receiver is good enough to demand double coverage, and while Jonathan Franklin is a solid running back, he is a far cry from Cal's Best.

And the Bruins Defense:

The UCLA defense was not at fault for the loss to Oregon last week. In fact, two of Oregon's three touchdowns weren't even scored by the team's offense. Also, the Bruins had a defensive touchdown in the game, as Akeem Ayers scored on an interception. Sure, UCLA could have played better against the run, as the Ducks gained 221 yards on 43 rushing attempts, but the play against the pass was quite strong. Opponents are scoring only 17.2 ppg against UCLA this season, and the team has yielded a mere eight touchdowns to opposing offenses. Foes are gaining just 285.6 total ypg against UCLA, which has been tough against both the run and the pass. A total of 11 takeaways in five games, including nine interceptions, have clearly helped the Bruins. Keep an eye on Reggie Carter, as he has made 37 tackles, including 5.5 TFLs, and forced a pair of fumbles.