September 8, 2007

UCLA to take on BYU in home opener

When the Bruins hit the field for test number two they will be taking on a fired up BYU Cougar team that are looking at this matchup as a statement game that will help put them on the map. The Bruins won't be taking this team lightly and this experienced group knows only too well what happens when they let down.

The Bruins had a spirited week of practice led by an ornery defense who feels that it underachieved in the opener and didn't up to their standards as a unit.

BYU traditionally plays outstanding offense and that trait continues, but now the Cougars have added a solid defense since former UCLA defensive coordinator and now New Mexico head coach Rocky Long protégé, Bronco Mendenhall took over the Cougar head coaching job three years ago.

Though the Cougars are running out of a 3-4-3 defensive alignment many of the concepts of 3-3-5 remain. The Cougars will try to keep recently minted Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Week, Bruin quarterback Ben Olson off balance by putting heat on him.

The Cougars apply pressure by blitzing from unorthodox places making it hard for the Bruins to pick them up. That the Bruins do pick up the blitz will be a the big challenge for a UCLA offense coming off a 45 point and 624 offensive yard outing a week ago against Stanford.

Another wrinkle that adds a little spice to the game is BYU was the school that received Olson's signature on LOI day when he was the No. 1 rated recruit for the class of 2002.

Adding fuel to the fire is Olson's former roommate during his stay in Provo is linebacker Bryan Kehl who led the Cougars in tackles against Arizona with 12.

The Cougar defense held Arizona to a paltry 11 first downs and only gave up one meaningless touchdown late in the game.

It was a very solid performance for the Cougar defense and this side of the ball is one of the reasons that Mendenhall thinks this team could end up being better than his 11-2 team from a year ago.

The offense also did a nice job against a tough Arizona defense. So much so that Olson won't be the only Offensive Player of the Week to be on the field Saturday.

BYU running back Harvey Unga earned the award for the Mountain West Conference after solid performance.

Unga was a double threat catching nine passes out of the backfield for 127 yards and one touchdown. He added 67 yards on the ground and scored a rushing touchdown.

The Cougars are quarterbacked by ASU transfer Max Hall who had an outstanding game in his opener hitting on 26 passes on 39 attempts and two touchdowns.

One thing that is hardly mentioned about BYU is their maturity. This isn't team that is going to get rattled very easily. Talk about life experiences, 60 percent of this BYU football team have been on a LDS mission and 27 of their players are already married.

UCLA will try to put an end to the second longest winning streak in D-I football as BYU has won 11 straight games.

The Bruins hold a 6-1 advantage in games with the Cougars and their only loss was in their first against BYU who was led by Steve Young.

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