I promised a post before the game and, with Washington State and UCLA starting to warmup, I thought I better get to it. If you’re interested – or bored – read on.
• We’ve written a lot this week about UCLA’s pistol offense, and we’ll write some more later in this post. But before we get there, I want to mention the Bruins’ defense (by the way, in kicker Kai Forbath and punter Jeff Locke, UCLA is set there). If you look at the Pac-10 stats, UCLA’s defense is about middle of the pack in every category (you have to peruse a bit further down to find WSU). But a lot of that’s been skewed by the Kansas State and Stanford games. Since then, the Bruins have been lights out, flying around, forcing turnovers, making life miserable for the opposition. In today’s case, that would be WSU. The Cougars have morphed into a spread team – taking advantage of their strengths – and that means Jeff Tuel is vulnerable. The offense will only be successful if the offensive line can protect, because there aren’t going to be a lot of help from tight ends. A back, maybe, but the five guys up front are going to be alone much of the time. They did a good job last week with USC’s pressure, but, honestly, this year UCLA is better. Quicker, more athletic, better. We’ll see how this is going to work out. … Now back to the pistol. No matter who UCLA plays at quarterback, usual starter Kevin Prince (knee) or Richard Brehaut, they run the option part of the offense based on their reads. And one thing they read in the pistol are the shoulders of the defensive ends and backers. If the ends get them turned to where their outside shoulder is upfield, the ball goes inside to the back. If they get turned the other way, the quarterback keeps the ball. But it they stay square, so they can still cover the inside gap and slide out to the outside, the decision isn’t as easy. And the offense slows down. So that’s what you need to watch today. How the defensive line and linebackers attack the line of scrimmage. It could tell the tale. … One personnel note: Bernard Wolfgramm is back in the starting lineup at defensive tackle, replacing Justin Clayton. Wolfgramm seems to be healthy.
• That’s all for now. We’ll be back on this blog at halftime for a short post. We won’t return until well after the game. But the gaps will be filled with quick posts on Twitter – are there any other kind? – at vinceg55. Follow us there.