The natives are restless in Westwood. UCLA is in year two of rebuilding under Rick Neuheisel and the honeymoon is officially over as the Bruins try to break out of a five game losing streak when Washington comes to visit. The majority of the problems are surprisingly on offense. I say surprisingly because the tandem of Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow make up one of college football's offensive braintrusts.
What is holding the Bruins back this season is the lack of a big time QB and poor production from the offensive line. The UCLA offense is only averaging 19.9 points per game this season. They rush for only an average of 102 yards per game and they average only 305 yards of total offense per game. That won't get it done in this conference.
Defensively the Bruins are not doing bad. They have a pass defense that limits teams to 197 yards per game but the rushing totals have been creeping up all season long and are now at 157 per game. Overall the Bruins have given up 355 yards per game and an average of 23 points in each contest which is fine by itself but doesn't help when your team is averaging less than 20 ppg.
One big equalizer the Bruins have on defense is CB Rahim Moore who has picked off seven enemy passes this season to lead the league. The Bruin defense as we saw in the first half against Oregon can play well and can keep games closer than expected.
The prescription for beating the Bruins on defense is to shut down their running game and put the game in the hands of whoever happens to be playing QB at the time. UCLA has the worst QB efficiency rating in the Pac 10 so accomplishing a win by doing that has been the safe bet this season.
Offensively Washington needs to control the ball and have a big day on the ground. That means Chris Polk needs to have a big day augmented with some help from Jake Locker. Sark hasn't run Jake much this year and a quad bruise suffered early in the Oregon game limited what Washington could do on offense against the Ducks.
Jake has had a week off to heal but early reports regarding his mobility in practice aren't great. Sark labeled Jake as questionable for the game after Sunday nights practice. Jake on the other hand said he would be fine and he practiced well on Monday. A big key to his availability will be how his leg responds on Tuesday.
Defensively the Huskies need to make some things happen against UCLA. Once the running game stalls and the Bruins are in 3rd and long the Huskies need to bring it and get some sacks. They didn't get that done enough earlier in the year when they played Arizona State. UCLA is in a similar predicament on offense except their trio of QB's are even less productive than Danny Sullivan at this point. Washington needs to take advantage of that.
Special teams for Washington have not been special over the past month. The Huskies need to win this segment of the game on Saturday and eliminate the crippling errors that have happened over the past three games. The Huskies need to eliminate the errors that have started giving up points and firld position.
Both these teams are eyeing each other as teams they can beat. There is a lot on the line in this one. Whoever loses can basically kiss away any slim bowl hopes they previously had.
Early Game Notes
Washington has not won on the road against UCLA since 1995.
Washington is coming off a bye week after playing eight straight games against the toughest schedule in the country.
UCLA is in the midst of its worst losing streak since closing 2003 with five straight losses, and it's the first time the team has been 0-5 in conference play since 1994
Both teams enter the game 3-5 and must win three of the last four to qualify for a bowl game.
Jake Locker is listed as questionable because of a quad bruise that is still limiting his mobility but he is expected to start.
EJ Savannah is doubtful after undergoing surgery for a broken thumb on Friday. The coaches will probably give him the week off to heal for the last three games. Cort Dennison would likely start in his place.
UCLA QB Kevin Prince completed nine of 13 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against OSU in an aborted comeback attempt.
UCLA was outgained 248-86 in the first half against Oregon State The Bruins only rushed for 18 yards, were sacked three time to go along with four fumbles.
UCLA WR Nelson Rosario's touchdown catch with 8 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against Oregon State was the Bruins first offensive touchdown since 9:36 in the second quarter against Cal in Week 6, a span of more than 150 minutes!
Cornerback Aaron Hester injured his right leg during the OSU game but X-rays were negative. Center Kai Maiva is not expected to miss time after suffering a hyper-extended right elbow. Tailback Johnathan Franklin "tweaked" his sore left ankle in the first quarter but returned to the game.
UCLA defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski has plantar fasciitis and is expected to miss the game this weekend.
New Look on SBN
You might notice this morning that we have a more readable look this morning thanks to the development department at SBN. They are continually improving the sites and all the members appreciate the hard work.