But trust me, nothing was worse than last year's debacle in Pasadena. Giving them a score right before halftime...Punting to Drew - again...The fake punt on 4th and 2...Our inability to tackle Maurice Drew, ever...47-40. This was my Clockwork Orange game, the main feature on every screen of the cineplex in my personal hell.
So it's payback time tomorrow evening in Berkeley. It's not as 'big' a game now that SC has lost a conference game; we could lose tomorrow, beat SC and still win the conference. But try telling that to Tedford or to the players who left their collective heart on the Rose Bowl turf last year.
When Cal has the ball...they need to block Davis and Hickman. This is the whole game, really. Control them, and UCLA will be forced to bring the blitz. If they bring the blitz, there is simply no way that five or six Bruin defenders can consistently manage Cal's skill people. Unless Nate makes bad decisions, which would be out of character.
Tedford will want to - surprise - establish the run. I hope we do it off the pass. I'd like to see us come out throwing - lots of quick throws on the perimeter to Jordan, Jackson and Lynch. Force their linebackers into pass coverage; gas their line a bit. Then, give them a steady dose of Lynch and Forsett as a change of pace.
With two weeks to prepare, Tedford will surely introduce something new - hopefully it involves DeSean Jackson's hands around a football. Look for at least one end around or reverse.
I look for Craig Stevens to have a big game. I assume Walker will be obsessed with our speed on the edges, hopefully opening up the middle of the field for Stevens and the backs.
When UCLA has the ball...they will have to throw and generate big plays from the passing game. They simply don't have the horses up front or the athleticism in the backfield to control this game on the ground. Bruins OC Jim Svoboda has opened the passing game up a wee bit in the last two weeks, and Cowan has been able to hit for a couple of long scores. They'll need more of that against Cal - at least two 40+ plays for scores or set-ups.
Cowan can't throw interceptions. He must stay away from Hughes and make smart decisions against Cal's zone package.
Special teams...Can't be much worse than last year. Medlock is a very good kicker, which would matter more in a low-scoring game. We must continue to be efficient in the red zone and put up sevens rather than threes.
Intangibles...See above. JT may have never won a truly big game, but he's also never failed to pay back an opponent who had it coming. Memorial will be hopping.
Prediction...I've got more respect for the Bruins than I should, given their performance this year. I think they will show up and play with emotion, but I'm not convinced they have enough scoring to compete with Cal. Cal's had a couple of relatively poor games offensively, but I trust that Tedford has worked things out over the bye week. I don't see a blowout, but I do see a W.
California 35 UCLA 19