Norm Chow, UCLA's offensive coordinator, has been this route before.
A football program trying to rebound. A slow start under the new regime.
That was USC in 2001, when Pete Carroll was hired as head coach and Chow came in as offensive coordinator.
The Trojans started 2-5, then won four of their last five games before losing to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl. USC has a 74-9 record since.
"Everything has its own personality, its own character," Chow said. "You can't do a comparison on one team and another."
Still, there is one similarity that jumps out at Chow as the Bruins take a 3-4 record into a game against California today.
"Before Pete, USC had four offensive coordinators in four years," Chow said. "It was the same thing here. That means the offense has to learn four different offenses. While there may be only small differences between some, the terminology is always different. We have one play called '16' which is the same play they had last year. But they called it '96.' Guys have to learn a whole new language."
The other thing that sticks out in Chow's mind about the 2001 season was that quarterback Carson Palmer was on the verge of losing his starting job.
"Pete wanted to pull him," Chow said. "Coaches are very impatient to begin with, and alumni and boosters are not patient."
Palmer remained the starter and won the Heisman Trophy the following season.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel was on the verge of replacing Kevin Craft from the lineup against Stanford last Saturday but was talked out of it and UCLA rallied behind its quarterback for a 23-20 victory.
"Kevin is a very sincere, dedicated young guy," Chow said. "He wants to do well and is willing to do whatever it takes. Why he does what he does, we're still in the process of figuring him out. We have kind of decided what he does well and we're trying to magnify those things."
He's a catch
Receiver Nelson Rosario showed his high-end potential in UCLA's victory over Stanford.
The freshman had one reception coming into the game but caught four passes for 71 yards, including two highlight-reel plays on the Bruins' 87-yard, game-winning drive.
"I started feeling more comfortable on the field," Rosario said. "Once you start feeling comfortable, you just react to the game. The ball came my way and I reacted."
Rosario's 6-foot-4 frame, speed and leaping ability -- he was the CIF San Diego Section long jump and high jump champion as a senior at Oceanside El Camino High -- indicated he could become a game-breaking threat.
"He has deceptive speed because of his size," UCLA receivers coach Reggie Moore said. "He eats up turf. The sky is the limit for him."
Odds and split ends
UCLA has lost five consecutive road games and 12 of its last 15. . . . California will be without wide receiver Michael Calvin (knee), guard Chris Guarnero (toe), tackle Mike Tepper (pectoral), defensive end Rulon Davis (leg), defensive tackle Kendrick Payne (knee), safety Bernard Hicks (thigh), and kicker David Seawright (groin).