October 9, 2013
Cal at UCLA: 5 Things To Watch For
A reeling and depleted Cal team heads south on I-5 to take on undefeated UCLA at the Rose Bowl this Saturday. Here are 5 Things To Watch For (shield your children's eyes).
1. Will UCLA's own injury woes have any impact?
While not quite on Cal's level, The Bruins aren't without their own injury concerns this season. It was announced this week that starting left tackle Torian White will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, and starting tailback Jordon James (UCLA's leading rusher) is doubtful this weekend with an ankle injury of his own. Furthermore, defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy is questionable after sustaining a concussion. McCarthy had started 4 games at defensive end for the Bruins, and is also capable of playing nose tackle.
Can fans may scoff at UCLA "only" potentially being without three starters this weekend, but it will be interesting to see whether it has an impact on the Bruins. Right tackle Simon Goines will shift over to White's left tackle spot, and true frosh Caleb Benenoch will take over at right tackle. UCLA's right side of the line will be composed of two true freshman with Benenoch joining right guard Alex Redmond. Against any other pass rush, that might be significant. James was averaging 141 yards per game prior to his injury. If he sits, look for UCLA to use freshman Paul Perkins along with a rotation of Steven Manfro, Malcolm Jones and Damien Thigpen in the backfield with Hundley. Against any other rush defense, James' absence might be significant. Chances are good that McCarthy will be replaced by another familiar name: true frosh Eddie Vanderdoes. With Cal down to its third-string center and second-string right guard... yeah.
2. Will the Bruins be looking past Cal?
Despite the UCLA coaches and players likely still feeling a little raw about last year's embarrassing loss in Berkeley and giving all the expected canned responses going into this game, you have to wonder if they aren't looking past Cal. Consider that after hosting the Golden Bears this weekend, the Bruins will go on the road the next two weeks to take on #5 Stanford and then #2 Oregon. This Cal team is 1-4, massively depleted, possessing one of the worst statistical defense in the FBS, and just lost by 22 points to Wazzu at home.
Perhaps the question should be, how do the bruins NOT look past Cal? And even if they are, will it matter? We'll see on Saturday.
3. Touchdowns, not turnovers
We've touched on Cal's struggles in the red zone before here, but...
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