What are three things you want to see from the Trojans to come away with a victory in this rivalry game against UCLA?
- Be ready to play: Last week’s loss to Cal in any angry Coliseum that drew boos on Clay Helton and negative chants wasn’t lost on the players. When you lose a game like Cal and are eliminated from the Pac-12 race, it’s a real gut check for the next game, which happens to be one of your arch-rivals. I know that UCLA will come to play because even in their loss to ASU, they competed to till the end. I think what we have at the moment are two teams in two different frames of mind. It’s up to the Trojans’ coaching staff and the players within the team to make sure everybody has their heads on straight from the opening kickoff. If the Trojans aren’t ready to play, we will know early. And if they’re not ready to play, they will be in for a real struggle in Pasadena.
- Keep your composure: Aside from the physical side of the rivalry, this Trojans team needs to keep its cool and composure when the going gets either tough or tight. Last week, CB Iman Marshall lost his cool late in the game, and it allowed Cal to keep the ball and drain the clock. Clay Helton says he has addressed this issue, but these unsportsmanlike penalties are becoming all too common place and could cost them in a rivalry game like UCLA. It also means the Trojans can’t lead each game in penalty yardage, as they have done for much of the season. Give the Bruins free yardage, and the Men of Troy will pay for it.
- The Trojans’ offense will need to get an early lead and increase it. They can’t score in the first half and then not score or score little in the second half. Obviously, attention will be directed towards the Trojans’ offensive line, and it starts with the center snap. Senior center Toa Lobendahn has had snapping issues all season, and you can bet that UCLA will do everything they can to get into Lobendahn’s head. Toa’s bad snap safety last game cost the Trojans dearly on the scoreboard, considering they lost to Cal 15-14. If Toa has an issue on Saturday, will Clay Helton give O-line coach Tim Drevno permission to make a change at center? Defensively, the Trojans can’t let the UCLA offense get any rhythm or motivation. You can bet that while Chip Kelly’s offense will test the Trojans’ defense with their rushing attack, Kelly figures to really pick on the Trojans’ secondary and hope his team gets the usual Trojans’ pass interference gift calls.
First, I’d like to see SC maintain a commitment to running the ball early in down and distances for a full game. It was the key to beating Oregon St., and worked beautifully in the first half against CAL. Why that strategy changed in the second half against the Bears is a complete mystery to me. This offensive unit needs to pick up positive yards on first down. They cannot play “behind the chains” or end up in 3rd and long, and give the defense the advantage of knowing that a pass is coming. Second . . . see the first thing listed above. Third . . . see the second thing listed above.
All: here goes…
1) Can the offense be effective on 1st down?
2) Will JT stretch the UCLA defense?
Can we get explosive plays into the end zone? (UCLA’s end zone to be clear!)
3) When will we utilize Falo more? Nobody even bothers to cover him.
4) Defense has to stop 1st down effectiveness. Notably take away the RPO and beer blocking scheme. We’ve not played against a veer look this season. It’s subtly different than pure zone blocking.
5) Defense must get LOS penetration.
6) need +2 in turnovers
7) minimize UCLA explosive plays
8) Can we/will win the one-on-one battles?
9) TOP is important this game. Keep defense off the field. Hold UCLA to less than 70 plays