For the UCLA football team to pull off the big win against the #19 (in the BCS) Arizona State Sun Devils this coming Saturday at the Rose Bowl and show the Pac-12 Conference and the college football community that their win over Cal wasn’t a fluke, these Bruins must:
1. PRESSURE BROCK OSTWEILER
That 6’8″ quarterback for the Sun Devils is a threat, having thrown for 17 touchdowns on the year and torching Colorado for 307 yards last week. He is athletic, has a very good arm, led the Sun Devil offense to 55 points against Rick Neuheisel’s team last year in Tempe while throwing for some ungodly yards, and can well do it again unless Datone Jones, Damien Graham, and the rest of the Bruins’ defensive line can cause havoc in the backfield this Saturday afternoon.
Which is imperative for them to do if the Bruins are to have a chance at winning.
Ostweiler must be given little to no time to throw and pick UCLA apart, and the linebackers – Patrick Larimore, Sean Westgate and company – must do their part to pressure the Sun Devils’ QB when the blitzes are called.
The Bruins got six sacks against the Golden Bears, and it will take that kind of effort against ASU, which is a better team.
2. TACKLE LIKE THEY DID AGAINST CAL
Defensive Coordinator Joe Tresey’s unit performed very well against Cal in the area of tackling, and particularly in the area of not letting the Bears convert on third down.
That same level of execution must happen against the Sun Devils – as UCLA must wrap up and not miss tackles and let Arizona State get yards after the catch, or chew up the clock because they convert first downs.
3. DO NOT LET VONTAZE BURFICT INTIMIDATE
That ASU linebacker is probably the most talented defensive player in the Pac-12 Conference; I think we can all agree on that.
As sure as I’m writing this, Burfict will be a first round NFL draft pick in April, and I’ll bet anything that he will declare for the draft when the season is over, as he is currently a third year junior. Come the end of April 2012, that young man will definitely be a multi-millionaire.
Putting it another way – I’ll be royally shocked if he stays for his senior year.
Having said that, Burfict is also a wild man with a reputation of being a loose cannon on the field, which has been a pertinent part of his game since he arrived in Tempe from Corona Centennial High School. He is known for giving late hits and being suspended for that, as well as talking trash on the field.
The Bruins absolutely must not let Burfict get to them.
He will undoubtedly get into the faces of anyone wearing true blue and gold on Saturday, trying to anger the UCLA players and get them to not pay as well. The Bruins MUST take the high road and not get into any situations where they may be tempted to retaliate for any stunt or cheap shot that Burfict may pull.
I suppose that’s all I’ve got to say about that, except that UCLA must keep its cool.
4. EXECUTE ON OFFENSE
The pistol offense worked like a charm against Cal, with quarterback Kevin Prince gettng over 160 yards on the ground and running back Derrick Coleman scoring three rushing touchdowns.
UCLA must continue with that type of execution, which won’t be as easy as the Sun Devils have a better defense than Cal, what with that Burfict guy and all.
The offensive line must do their job – block, commit no mistakes like holding or false starts, get first downs, and move the ball down field.
And it wouldn’t hurt for Prince to throw the ball a bit more than he did last game, as the four wide receivers that were suspended last week – Randall Carroll, Taylor Embree, Ricky Marvray, and Shaquelle Evans – will all return against Arizona State.
And of course, they can’t commit any turnovers; that goes without saying.
This is going to be a big game coming up on Saturday, particularly for the Bruins as they can move into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 South with a win.
Will they be up for the challenge of beating one of the conference’s best teams, one that is ranked in the BCS and will bring many of their faithful to the Rose Bowl this Saturday afternoon?
We’ll certainly find out – by around 9:00 on Saturday evening, we will all know whether or not UCLA is for real.