Well, thanks for all the heartfelt replays to my request for some advice on how to pick the UW-UCLA game.
I’ve read some/most/as many as I had time for before a re-run of Saved By The Bell intervened. Seriously, I tried to read all of them once I landed, and not sure I could discern any sort of consensus — looks like you guys are as torn as I was.
I also had lots of time on the plane ride down to peruse the Pac-10 stats — either that, or listen to a former pro soccer player hit on a divorcee in the row behind me (sounded as if he was bound to score more with her than he did on the field).
And two numbers stood out:
— 207. That’s Jake Locker’s rushing yards for the season, and eight yards fewer than Stanford’s Andrew Luck in the same number of games. That just seems insane to me. I know Luck is a pretty mobile guy (and a huge reason why the Cardinal has a really bright future) and that sack yards are part of the stat and all that.
But it really makes no sense that Andrew Luck has more rushing yards so far than Locker no matter how you compute it. I understand Steve Sarkisian’s reasoning on this. But as one person note this week, Locker got hurt anyway despite the best efforts of Sark and company to keep him healthy.
Locker could probably rush for 1,200 yards if he and the coaches really wanted. Doing that probably wouldn’t be responsible or best for his future, and I get that — and it’s admirable in a lot of ways that Sarkisian seems so concerned about Locker’s post-UW days.
And I can’t express enough that I think Sarkisian has UW on the right track overall and that the program is in about 1,000,586,890,000,009,786,876,345,567 percent better shape than a year ago at this time.
But seems like there has to be a happy medium where what is best for Locker’s long-term future — showing he can be a dropback QB; jibes with this team’s best interests — you can’t convince me otherwise that this team’s best and most undefendable play isn’t still spreading the field, giving the ball to Jake, and letting him run or create something witih his feet.
Given his injury, maybe this isn’t the week to make this rant. On the other hand, weeks are running out to get to a bowl game this season, and if they’ve deemed him healthy, then let him run. I think UW’s chances of winning three of the last four rest largely on allowing Locker to at least rush for, say, 50 yards a game.
— 14. That’s the number of touchdowns UCLA has scored this season — the least in the Pac-10 and one fewer than Washington State, which may be the most uncompetitive Pac-10 team I’ve ever seen. WSU last year would have been the most uncompetitive Pac-10 team I’ve ever seen except that the Cougs inexplicably beat the Huskies, which was due in large part to the fact that UW’s head coach at that point had about as much sway over his team as I do with my 7-year-old. The Huskies had checked out by then like Jeff Spicoli on the last day of class.
So how a team headed by supposed offensive gurus Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel has scored fewer TDs than the worst team in all of BCS football — and UCLA’s non-conference schedule really wasn’t all that tough so not like their stats are incredibly skewed —- really has to make you wonder. Speaking of which, not sure what Neuheisel has to do to lose his membership in the “offensive guru” club but this has to come close.
Anyway, one of those two stats is likely to change a little tomorrow and tilt the game in one direction or the other.
I broke down the game quite a bit in the previous entry, so hopefully that made clear how close a game this figures to be — not a lot of statistical differences here.
And what I’ve said may be the biggest matchup of the game seems to favor UCLA — the Bruins’ tall WRs against UW’s secondary, which will again likely start two true freshmen.
If the Huskies really go with the line featuring Daniel Te’o-Nesheim inside and true frosh Talia Crichton and Andru Pulu at end, that’s four true freshmen starting on defense in a place where UW hasn’t won in 14 years.
Just seems like a lot of ominous factors to overcome. So, as much as I’d love to spend some of the pre-Christmas holidays gambling in Vegas with Todd Milles — I think this game may be the one that makes or breaks UW bowl hopes and no offense to anywhere else, but I’d love to test anew if what happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas — just not sure I see it.
I think it’ll be close, but ultimately, I see the Bruins winning — as they always seem to do here against the Huskies — 24-21.