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UCLA must defend against Cal's air attack

The Bruins' defense struggled against Washington State's Jeff Tuel, who passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns last week. The Golden Bears' Kevin Riley has a passing efficiency rating of 159.05 against UCLA.

October 08, 2010|By Chris Foster

Reporting from Berkeley — You could say things are up in the air for UCLA's defense.

Was last week's aerial show by Washington State merely a spot of turbulence? Or was the ease with which the Cougars moved the ball through the air a harbinger of real trouble ahead?

Jeff Tuel passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns as Washington State scared the "we beat Texas" out of the Bruins before UCLA rallied to win, 42-28.

"I think we need to get our confidence back," UCLA strong safety Tony Dye said. "They hit a couple on us here and there, and the pass defense went in the tank."

A recurrence against California on Saturday wouldn't be good for the Bruins, because if there is one thing consistent about Bears quarterback Kevin Riley it's his games against UCLA.

Riley has a passing efficiency rating of 159.05 in two games against the Bruins. Against the rest of the Pacific 10 Conference, he has a 111.09 rating. Riley threw three touchdown passes in a 45-26 victory over UCLA last season and two in a 41-20 win in 2009.

Tuel had few problems finding holes in the secondary, though part of that was, "Washington State came out in a different look than we were used to and we had to adjust," free safety Rahim Moore said.

Still, there were a handful of times where Bruins players stood around and admired the pretty catches the Cougars were making.

"Certainly we've got to be more aggressive," Moore said.

The Bruins had long ball on their minds this week. Riley's three touchdown passes in last year's game covered 51, 43 and 24 yards.

"This guy can throw the rock and he likes to go downfield," Dye said. "We have been emphasizing the deep ball. Washington State gave us odd looks and caught us by surprise. We know what these guys do."

Go see Cal

What does this game mean to the Bruins?

"We're trying to be known as the best team in the state," Moore said. "Now it's time to prove it."

Defensive tackle David Carter seconded that, saying, "We haven't won [in Berkeley] since 1998. That's great. We're just going to turn the tide and tilt the weight back to Los Angeles. We want everybody to have their eyes on UCLA."

For 17 years, until his death in 1988, former UCLA track coach Elvin C. "Ducky" Drake would give a speech imploring that the Bruins beat Cal. UCLA won every game.

Former UCLA player and administrator Ed Kezirian, who is on the trip, is expected to pick up that torch, as he has done on past occasions.

Three and out?

This is the third time that UCLA has won three consecutive games under Coach Rick Neuheisel. The previous two winning streaks were stopped by California teams, Stanford and USC, both in 2009.

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