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Huskies are almost Bruins' mirror image

UCLA FYI

November 11, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The similarities between UCLA and Washington are unavoidable. And not flattering.

The teams that meet in Seattle this weekend have struggled in many of the same aspects of the game, as evidenced by the statistics.

The Bruins rush for a paltry 77.8 yards per game. The Huskies are not much better at 85.3.

"We've just put ourselves in too many long-distance situations," Washington quarterback Ronnie Fouch said, adding that "it's tough play-calling-wise to have third and 10, second and 10 every time."

As a result, the Huskies rank ninth in total offense in the Pacific 10. UCLA is eighth.

For weeks now, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel has talked about how his team's inefficiency on offense has left the defense in tough spots. He sees the same dynamic with the Huskies.

"Defensively, they've actually done some good things," Neuheisel said. "Like us, it looks like the defense has been the victim of having to be on a lot of short fields."

Not surprisingly, both defenses rank near the bottom of the conference.

There is one big difference between the teams. The Huskies, 0-9 overall, 0-6 in conference, are the only winless team in major-college football. The Bruins are 3-6 and 2-4.

Double up

The Huskies suffered a blow when starting quarterback Jake Locker suffered a broken thumb early in the season. Since then, Fouch has completed less than 45% of his passes and has four touchdowns with nine interceptions.

Still, Fouch can be "pretty gifted when he gets time," Neuheisel said.

The Washington offense had success with double-move routes against Arizona State last weekend. That type of pattern hurt UCLA against Oregon State. The Huskies also pulled off a number of trick plays including reverses, direct snaps and a double pass on which Fouch made his first-ever touchdown reception.

On the line

Two offensive linemen earned some praise from Neuheisel after the Oregon State game. He said guard Darius Savage is progressing and that center Jake Dean has performed "admirably" anchoring an inexperienced front five.

Guard Micah Reed, one of three players returning from a week's suspension, could be used to spell Dean in next Saturday's game, the coach said.

Under pressure

The Bruins face a no-win situation against the Huskies. If they lose, it would rank as an embarrassment of national proportions. Asked whether his players might feel extra pressure, Neuheisel said: "I'm not concerned about the other team. They've got their issues, we've got ours."

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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