No room for errors
The last time UCLA moseyed into Austin, the Bruins dished out a Texas-sized whuppin’. But this is not Texas football circa 1997. A win would be a major notch for UCLA, but most important is that the Bruins come out of this game healthy. They resume Pacific 10 Conference play next week. Staff writer Chris Foster looks at the issues surrounding the game:
1 ONE IN A MILLION
Texas is not the team it was last season, when the Longhorns reached the national title game before losing to Alabama.
Even so, the Bruins pretty much have one shot at this: play perfect.
In its win last week against Houston, UCLA lost three scoring opportunities because of turnovers. In a lopsided loss against Stanford the week before, the Bruins lost two scoring chances because of penalties and another two because of turnovers. You don’t beat Texas by wasting scoring chances.
UCLA has 10 turnovers. You don’t beat Texas by handing over the football.
UCLA has not been overly burdened with penalties, but the mistakes they have made have come at bad times. You don’t beat Texas going backward.
2 OK, TWO IN A MILLION
Texas’ best shot at losing this game: looking ahead.
The Longhorns made their biennial trip to what they perceive as, uh, Hades last week, going to Lubbock to play Texas Tech. It was the scene of their only loss in 2008, which cost them a shot at the national title game.
Texas gritted out a brow-wiping 24-14 victory.
Next week, it’s Oklahoma and deep-fried Snickers bars at the Texas State Fair in Dallas — the game the Longhorns are required to win. Texas has beaten Oklahoma four of the last five games.
The trick in Austin is to bury the Texas Tech victory, shovel dirt on UCLA, then prepare for those interlopers from north of the Red River.
Texas Coach Mack Brown has his concerns, saying, “We usually struggle the week before the Oklahoma game.”
3 WHAT’S THEIR LINE?
Texas, with an offensive line that averages 308 pounds, had 93 yards rushing in 43 carries against Texas Tech, and Brown was caught by television cameras woofing at line coach Mac McWhorter during the game.
Brown and the Longhorns had to deal with that this week.
“Anybody who says there’s a rumor about a coach being fired on our staff does not have it,” Brown said. “I’m the only one who makes that decision, and I haven’t talked to anybody about anything.”
If Texas rushes for only 93 yards against UCLA — a team that gave up 313 rushing yards to Kansas State and 211-to Stanford — then maybe Brown should do some talking to somebody about something.
4 YOUNG COLT OR FRESH PRINCE?
Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert does not have the running ability of his predecessor, Colt McCoy, who kept defensive coordinators up late at night.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince has yet to show the kind of passing ability that frightens defensive backs.
Gilbert, who in place of an injured McCoy nearly rallied Texas in last season’s national title game, has been competent. The eyes of Texas are waiting for him to have a breakout game, but Gilbert doesn’t have to be great for the Longhorns to win.
Prince has run the ball effectively and managed the offense well, but UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel has been tapping his feet, waiting for a revival in his passing game. The Bruins need
5 IT’S NOT THE HEAT …
There’s a chance of thunderstorms in Austin on Saturday, and the humidity will be thick.
The Bruins are going to need to keep their defense off the field, something they did well against Houston.
Wet weather would be troublesome for UCLA’s now-you-see-it, now-youdon’t “pistol” offense. Prince to play extremely well to win.
STEADY PRESENCE: Texas is still waiting for sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who has passed for 621 yards with three touchdowns this season, to have a breakout game.