No room for er­rors

Los Angeles Times - - Ucla Gameday - chris.fos­ter@latimes.com

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.

Ron­ald Martinez

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.

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