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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Opponent Analysis: At home for redemption

    Somebody has to win.

    That’s the good news, with both Arizona (2-1) and UCLA (1-1) coming off less-than-stellar performances a week ago – the schools combined to give up 11 touchdowns, five field goals, nine turnovers and four scoring drives.

    The bad news is that one of the teams will have to lose, too, and it will be tossed down into the Pacific 10 Conference cellar and be on a two-game losing streak ð- not where any team wants to be.

    The main thing UCLA is focused on is getting back on track, something that can be hard to achieve in a sport as competitive as football: the Bruins are just trying to have fun.

    “”Football is a game and we’re playing it to win, but (we need to) just have fun first and not worry about the troubles of the past,”” said linebacker Reggie Carter.

    UCLA won’t dwell on last week’s 59-point pummeling handed down by BYU, but it’s hard not to dwell on the number of injuries facing the Bruins. After the well-documented preseason injuries to its quarterbacks – Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan went down on consecutive plays during a practice and both will miss a significant chunk of the season at the very least – players are going down all over the field.

    An already-thin offensive line will be without starting center Micah Reed, who will be out for at least a few weeks with a knee injury. Starting running back Kahlil Bell is questionable and backup Raymond Carter won’t be 100 percent as he nurses a knee injury.

    The injuries on offense have hampered the Bruins’ ability to run the ball as they rank last in the NCAA in rushing offense with their 19 yards per game average.

    “”When you’re last in college football in rushing, that’s a concern, but we’ve got coaches who have been around great rushing attacks and we’re exploring it,”” said UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. “”It really comes down to what you can execute and keeping some healthy bodies in there; then I’ll know what they’re doing. It’s certainly a focus for us to try and effectively run the football.””

    As for the defensive injuries, linebacker Kyle Bosworth strained his MCL in the BYU loss and is “”doubtful at best,”” said Neuheisel. Starting middle linebacker Reggie Carter – who has a slight knee injury of his own – will slide into Bosworth’s place, a spot he excelled in last year as he registered 62 tackles and 12 tackles for a loss.

    With all the negativity surrounding the state of the Bruins, it’s hard for the team to stay focused on their mantra of staying “”relentlessly positive.””

    “”That’s all we can do,”” said quarterback Kevin Craft. “”It’s rough but all we can do is move forward, and that’s all we’re doing.

    “”We’re just looking to the future and we’ve got to keep moving on,”” he added. “”That’s been the slogan this week – stay positive and keep moving forward and not worry about past.””

    And the team has done its part so far as the whole group “”all came back to work, and fired up about it,”” Neuheisel said. “”The effort was exactly what we wanted it to be.””

    The effort level needs to be high if the Bruins want give up less than the seven touchdown passes that BYU quarterback Max Hall tallied last week.

    “”It’s not like guys are getting beat, just blazed deep; we had a few busted coverages,”” Carter said. “”Other than that, (Hall) is a great quarterback: he put the ball in position and his receivers made good catches.””

    Arizona only managed three passing touchdowns against New Mexico last weekend, but quarterback Willie Tuitama averages 264 yards and almost three touchdowns per contest and Tuitama lit up the Bruins for 341 yards and three scores in last season’s 34-27 UA win.

    Ultimately, the game will come down to which team can put last week’s pitiful performance behind it and focus on the task at hand – opening Pac-10 play undefeated and keeping pace for a potential bowl berth.

    “”We’re excited to play,”” Neuheisel said. “”Hopefully (we’ll) put a great effort on the field on Saturday in front of our home crowd and find a way to hopefully get the first conference win.””

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