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UCLA practices take on a sense of urgency as Arizona game approaches

Coach Rick Neuheisel has been barking criticism and lavishing praise. Quarterback Kevin Prince will try to build on a solid game against Cal. Can he outduel the Wildcats' Nick Foles?

October 24, 2009|Chris Foster

UCLA plays Arizona today in a game in which the Bruins will either equal last season's victory total or continue their rock-in-a-deep-pool descent. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the game's key issues and matchups.

There was something in the air around Westwood this week and, after three consecutive losses, it didn't have a "relentlessly positive" feel.

On Wednesday, Jayson Allmond, a fullback who is redshirting, became fodder for individual tackling drills. On the adjacent field, Coach Rick Neuheisel began hollering to get Allmond's attention, then let loose a colorful critique from 50 feet away.

Similar sound bites played throughout the week. Coaches were loudly barking and woofing criticism and compliments. Call it urgency or fear, a message was delivered.

Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough reminded his unit's seniors they had only six games left.

Neuheisel, who was unusually businesslike with reporters this week, ended one day by telling the team, "That was a great, great practice, let's take it to another level tomorrow."

That may mean he believes that it will take a great, great, great effort to defeat Arizona.

In summary: Practices carried an air of urgency, with a UCLA victory in this game key to showing some overall progress.

Curses, Foles again

The best thing that happened to Arizona this season might have been a 27-17 loss to Iowa. After that, Coach Mike Stoops decided Matt Scott wasn't the answer at quarterback.

Enter Nick Foles, a transfer from Michigan State. He has passed for 1,097 yards and eight touchdowns in three games since taking over the job.

Foles completed 40 of 51 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-38 victory over Stanford, leading Cardinal Coach Jim Harbaugh to say, "Completing 40 of 51 passing is hard to do in a seven-on-seven drill. . . ."

Foles, it's worth noting, broke Drew Brees' records for yards passing and touchdown passes at Westlake High in Austin, Texas.

What's the spread?

The Wildcats, under offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, are ranked 14th nationally in total offense.

Said Bullough: "They kind of spread you out like Oregon does and you got to make tackles."

That's exactly what the Bruins didn't do against Oregon . . . or California . . . or Stanford.

There was a refresher course in this basic element all week.

"It's all about playing disciplined, knowing what we're supposed to do and then playing with some urgency," free safety Rahim Moore said.

Kick it in gear

A goal for Neuheisel this week?

"I wouldn't mind if Kai Forbath was just a great extra-point kicker," he said.

Forbath's 17 field goals lead the nation. UCLA's ability to score touchdowns ranks near the bottom.

The UCLA offense has produced 10 touchdowns. That's more than only six of the 120 teams in major college football.

The ray of hope: Quarterback Kevin Prince was effective against Cal last week, passing for 311 yards.

Arizona has been vulnerable to the pass. Stanford threw for 434 yards against the Wildcats last week and Oregon State had 303 two weeks earlier.

Time capsule

In 2005, UCLA toddled off to Tucson undefeated and ranked seventh in the nation. A 52-14 shellacking later, the Karl Dorrell Era began to circle the drain.

The Bruins have a 22-26 record -- 5-17 away from the Rose Bowl -- since that 8-0 start in 2005. They are 13-19 in Pacific 10 Conference games. Little wonder the Bruins are 7 1/2 -point underdogs to the Wildcats.

By the numbers

*--*

UCLA ARIZ. 21.2 Scoring 30.5 21.8 Points given up 26.0 193.7 Passing offense 259.0 116.7 Rushing offense 184.7 310.3 Total offense 443.7 169.2 Passing defense 224.8 151.2 Rushing defense 107.3 320.3 Total defense 332.2 *--*

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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