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September 26, 2011Winning does great things for a player's mindset. The Bruins will be a team that will hit the practice field on Tuesday with confidence and are very excited about the challenge of playing not only one of the best team's in the conference, but one of the best team's in country.
The reason Stanford is one of the best team's in the country is they have the best quarterback in college football in Andrew Luck. It is going to be a huge challenge for the Bruins.
It is going to require a huge effort from the entire team this week to prepare for one of the nation's best teams and it is much better for the Bruins to be going into this 1-0 than 0-1.
The Bruins are looking forward to playing in Palo Alto Saturday with the understanding of the huge undertaking that this UCLA team will face, but the team is excited about taking their swings and hopefully give Stanford a run for their money.
Though Stanford's head coach David Shaw will be new, he was the offensive coordinator a year ago and most of the Cardinal coaching staff returns. Many of Stanford's coaching staff have NFL experience.
UCLA head coach, Rick Neuheisel was on the same Baltimore Raven staff that Stanford's Shaw was on and Neuheisel has great respect for the new Cardinal head coach. Shaw is a west coast guy so Stanford's offense has a west coast flair.
Defensively the Cardinal return most of their staff. Last season's defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio is with Jim Harbaugh coordinating the San Francisco 49er defense. Neuheisel also coached with Fangio in Baltimore.
The Bruins remember the last time they played the Cardinal. The defense kept it close until late in the third quarter when the wheels fell off UCLA's wagon and in the fourth quarter Stanford pounded UCLA.
When you think of this year's Stanford team you think, Andrew Luck. He has all the attributes of all the great quarterbacks of the past. He's extremely smart. Stanford gives Luck three of four options on may of their plays and he makes the right call almost 100 percent of the time.
Luck has all the physical attributes, too. He has size, arm strength and outstanding feet. The Bruins remember all too well how eh kept drives alive last year using his feet to move the chains. He picked up at least three first downs, legging it.
It isn't his legs that the Bruins fear the most, he has an outstanding arm and what makes it tougher on UCLA is his accuracy, plus they have three lethal weapons at tight end in Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.
That being understood, the Cardinal will still try to pound the ball down UCLA's throat and then hit them with a big play on play action. Stanford has a dangerous offense that keeps a defense on their toes.
The Bruins will have to play their best game of the year defensively and that would be helped if they play disciplined assignment football.
For the Bruins to even consider getting out of this game with a W, they will have to play their best game of the year, maybe their best game in a couple years. UCLA will have to play as close to a perfect game as possible.
UCLA's offense has shown improvement. They already have 14 touchdowns this season and that is more than they had at the same time a year ago. The Bruins didn't turn the ball over last game, which is a great sign of a team that is getting better.
Though UCLA didn't throw the ball a lot, but their yards per attempt was well over 14 yards and if the Bruins can continue to do those things, stay consistent and not turn the ball over then good things could happen.
The Bruins have to work on their short yardage offense. They missed out on a couple of third and shorts and fourth shorts.
Finding out where Joseph Fauria has been since Houston has been a topic among the media of late. Against Houston took advantage of what the Cougars were giving them.
Against San Jose State, he scored a touchdown, but they missed on other attempts. Against Texas, again they missed some other opportunities and he was also rocked making a catch. He was actually hurt on the play and finished the game with a sore abdomen. He played in the Oregon State not at 100 percent. He should be 100 percent against the Cardinal.
Now healthy, he should be more of the offense. Fauria certainly has the potential to be a great offensive weapon.
Neuheisel was asked about Shaw and he said that is a very smart football coach and it was destiny to be a coach. He grew up the son of a football coach. Neuheisel actually coached against, Shaw's dad, Willie Shaw when he was Stanford's defensive coordinator early in his coaching career and they recruited the same area in San Diego, so they butted heads on the recruiting trail, too. Now he is battling his son.
Not only do the Bruins have to worry about dealing with a great quarterback and some talented tight ends, but they also have perhaps the best offensive line the Bruins will face all season and that means it could be a very tough day at the office for the UCLA defense.
The Bruin defense will have to figure out a way to keep Stanford's offense on the bench as much as they can.
Near the end of the presser, speaking of the Oregon State game, Neuheisel told the media that ultimately when you come away with a conference victory, on the road, it is a huge confidence builder. It gives the team the belief that they can win.
People want style points, but the only thing that matters in the end of the day is getting the win.
Regarding the passing game it's not about the number of attempts, but about the production and how the passing game helps move the chains.
It looks like Damien Thigpen may redshirt this season. He re-aggravated his hamstring and it is going to require rest.
Regarding Anthony Jefferson it going to be up to the doctors and if he is available he will play. He redshirted last season so he is out of redshirts. According to Neuheisel, Jefferson will be 50-50 if he plays.