Here at Addicted to Quack, we want to take advantage of SBN's extensive blogging network to provide some unique insights on upcoming matchups. Hence-5 Questions is born. For the first installment, the bloggers at our UCLA affiliate Bruins Nation were kind enough to exchange five questions with us about the Ducks' upcoming game this weekend.
BN was kind enough to answer our questions about the Bruins second ranked defense, quarterback injuries, and more. You can also view my responses to their questions over at BN. Note my gaffe about Ben Olson on question one, which is ironic if you look at BN's question #3. Anyway, here goes:
ADQ: With Drew Olson out, what can we expect from Patrick Cowan? His stats from last week look pretty good. For those who haven't seen him play, what's his game? Will the tough road environment be a factor?
So you have been reading the WWL? Eh Well David "Drew" Olson has been out since last season. :-) We are actually dealing with the injury of "Ben" Olson (not related), who you might have known is one of the most heavily recruited, and sought after number 1 QB recruit ever to come in Westwood. So yes losing Ben Olson is a blow. But if there is one team in the Pac-10 that was well positioned to withstand such a blow, it was UCLA. Pat Cowan is now our starting QB. He had a great start against Mike Stoop's dirty Mildcats, who were taking cheap shots all day at the Rose Bowl last weekend. Anyways, Pat doesn't have the gun that Ben Olson had in his left arm. But he is one of those efficient QBs, who seems to be at ease in making all his reads in Dorrell's "west coast offense" (WCO), and someone who has the athletic ability to roll out, escape pressure, and make things happen. The coaches are confident in him as we are in the Bruins Nation. However, we do believe the tough crowd at Autzen could become a factor. It will be interesting to see how PC reacts. Right now the coaches are counting on a talented second string QB, who has had three years in Dorrell's WCO, and a good group of running backs (who have had their moments) to keep the Oregon defense (which is not very good against the run) off balance this upcoming weekend.
ADQ: UCLA's defense is ranked second in the nation. Is it really that good, or is it because they have played Stanford, Arizona, and Rice? What can we expect from this defense?
The Bruin defense indeed is experiencing a remarkable turn around. We can actually (gasp) tackle people. Pretty fascinating really to see our boys holding the opposing O to 3 and outs. We had no idea last year that other team were bringing their punting units against our D. Now as you pointed out in your Q we have had 3 scrimmage outings against Rice, Stanford, and Zona, possibly the worst offenses in the world of football. So right now we are not entirely sure ourselves what is gonna happen when this defense lines up against Dennis Dixon and his crew. That said, we are expecting the UCLA defense to put a lot of pressure on Ducks running game and perhaps even stifle it the way Bears D line did over the weekend. Our D line is putting a lot of pressure on the opposing QBs. It was interesting to see Dixon chucking the ball a little at the face of Bear pressure. Expect Bruin DEs Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis trying to put pressure on DD and break up his rhythm.
Also we have a very talented secondary led by FS Dennis Keyes and SS Chris Horton, who just may be the hardest hitting safety in the country, no one is talking about. If I were a Ducks receiver, I'd be weary about catching a pass in the middle because CD are going to bring it. But then again that's our thinking. This is going to be most fun thing to watch this Saturday. Oregon's "O" vs. UCLA's "D" Someone is gonna get exposed. For Dorrell's sake (who is yet to beat a team with a winning record on the road), we are hoping it's the talented Oregon offense, our Bruin defense stops this Saturday.
ADQ: Special teams coverage has been an Achillies Heel for Oregon this year. Are there any Bruins that we have to worry about breaking a big one?
Special teams has been a big fiasco for UCLA too this year. We have botched numerous plays with dumb penalties, stupid blocks, and fumbles on punt returns early in the season. However, our punt returning situation is starting to stabilize. Terrence Austin, a true frosh has been returning our punts. Terrance is a burner, and is the marquee recruit of Dorrell's latest recruiting class. He almost took one to the house against Washington. If Oregon does have suspect coverage on special teams then I'd watch out for (#4) Austin. Also (#3) Jeremy McGee is another speedster frosh, who has been getting time on KO returns, and he always is a possibility of shaking one loose.
ADQ: UCLA is known as more of a basketball school. What kind of expectations are there for football, especially coming off a ten win season last year?
Come on now. Let's not fall into the uninformed/ignorant East Coast dominated traditional media narrative (which the clueless morons in the local LA papers often run with) of UCLA just being a "basketball school." I wouldn't call a school that has a football tradition, which includes 18 Conference Championships, 12 Rose Bowl appearances, 1 National Championship, a Heisman award, and putting dozens of blue chippers in the NFL, just a basketball school. I wouldn't call a program which is ranked number 11 in the all time AP rankings, ahead of powerhouses such as Miami, FSU, Georgia, Auburn, LSU etc. just a basketball school. With that said following our "10 win season" last year (which not all of us were all that impressed with) we are expecting from Dorrell and co. to win at least 9 regular season games including beating Southern Cal. We have been reiterating those minimum expectations again and again, and given how Dorrell has come out on record saying this is his best team he has had in four years in Westwood, we are sticking with those expectations for remainder of the season.
ADQ: I would guess that you have seen the Bruins play as much as anyone this season. What do the Ducks need to do to beat the Bruins on Saturday?
Ducks are more than 10 points favorite for a reason. They will have the upper hand with raucous Autzen behind them and the Bruins breaking in a first year QB (no matter how much experience he had in Dorrell's WCO) on the road. Now I'd suspect Oregon DC Nick Alliotti (thanks a lot Nick for Miami 98, thanks a lot) will try to devise a game plan, that will key on stopping the Bruin running game from outset. Bruin running game hasn't exactly been cranking this year. So I'd think Ducks will come out, pull up the safeties, and dare the Bruins to complete some passes early on. And who knows they could be successful in rattling Cowan. On defense I am sure Dennis Dixon will be watching a lot of Isaiah Stanback tapes this week. The super athletic Washington freak, single handedly beat the Bruins few weekends again with his dual threat ability. And I think Dennis Dixon is way more polished and a complete quarterback than Stanback. Bruins will be the definitely underdog this weekend. However, this is a game Dorrell needs to win badly if he wants legitimacy in the eyes of reality based Bruin football fans in Westwood.
Thanks for having us ADQ. Sorry for being so blunt. Let's do this again perhaps during the hoops season. Glad to see such a prolific blogger added to our great family at SBN. Good luck rest of the season except for Saturday.
Our thanks again to the guys at BN. We'll definitely do it again in January for hoops.