Usually, we like to use this post to let four amateurs talk about what they want to see on the field. With a frustrating first two weeks behind us, however, the sentiment this week was more along the lines of "hell, let's just do anything that works." Feel free to throw in your thoughts in the comments, and if you're reading this for the first time, remember that we don't think we're smarter than Bill Snyder. Nobody is.
BracketCat: Well, I saw UCLA suspended four players for the game. And they're starting the true freshman QB, as expected.
I think our chances of winning just increased to 2 percent.
TB: Because all our detractors will be certain to trumpet the bad news -- and there's plenty of it -- heading into this game, I'm going to look at some of those things that raise our chance of winning this game to two percent.
As Bracket mentioned, UCLA lost one of its starting cornerbacks to injury. That helps, because UCLA is No. 7 in passing efficiency defense. I suppose we could also hope that their ranking is that high because they've faced two teams who rate in the bottom half of the country in passing efficiency (SDSU and Tennessee). Now, whether our quarterback(s) can throw the ball in the ocean from the beach will do more to determine whether this matters, but it can't hurt.
The other bright spot is that UCLA will be starting true freshman quarterback Richard Brehaut. In a lesson to all Pop Warner players out there, previous UCLA starter Kevin Prince got his jaw broken last week when he forgot to put his mouthpiece in before a play. Ouch. Anyway, we can hope that, with a true freshman in the game, perhaps Joshua Moore and Tysyn Hartman will find themselves in the way of a few of Brehaut's passed. The Bruins rank only 88th in the country in rushing offense, so if our defense can shut down the running game and force Brehaut to beat us, we could make it one of those 10-7 games that we may luck into winning.
Let's just hope it doesn't come down to a kick.
Panjandrum: It's really, really difficult to come up with any sort of detailed gameplan for this particular game, or any game for that matter. On offense, we just have to say, "Tell the QB to play better," and on special teams we just tell them to "Put it between the uprights".
If it were up to me, and I were gameplanning for UCLA, I'd run the football to start out with (like they know we will), and then I'd try to complete some high percentage passes to the perimeter of the field. For example, I'd throw some quick screen passes to Banks and hope he gets free, or I'd try to get him the ball on a quick bubble screen or slant route. I'd throw some short five yard curl routes to Mastrud. We just need to do the minimum necessary to give our running backs better chances to move the football. None of the QB's on this roster are going to beat you, so you have to hope that they just make the easy throws and don't hurt you. You may have to open up the playbook to give Carson opportunities to make some throws, but it's no like we really should be holding anything back at this point; if you don't win here, you don't go to a bowl game. Period.
On defense, concentrate on shutting down the run and make a true freshman beat you with his arm. That's really all there is to it. If you were thinking about trying out some new blitz packages and trying to mix up coverages, there's no better time than this week. When you look at the upcoming games on the schedule where KSU can be competitive (ISU, CU, A&M), it's not like hiding anything is really going to make the difference between winning and losing. Being the team that sucks the least is going to be the determining factor.
UCLA is a must win if you want to go to a bowl game. If KSU doesn't win this game, they have to win five games in the conference, and nothing short of an act of God will make that happen this year. Go out there and win this game. Most of us anticipated KSU being 3-1 in the non-conference, so a win here would probably make that happen and at least get us back on track to accomplishing the ultimate goal of getting to .500, or heaven forbid seven wins and a bowl game.
EMAW: Yep, there is no need to hide anything during this game. This is one of those "must wins" if the team has any hope of reaching a bowl. Let's see it all: blitzes, half back passes, fake punts, anything that you need to do to make a win a possibility. Considering the win against Tennesse last week, I can't think this game can line up any better for KSU this week than it has. The Bruins' starting QB is out, along with four suspended players and one of their starting defensive backs.
I wasn't able to see the Louisiana game save for a couple of high/lowlights from the news, so I can't comment too much outside of just stats and heresay. What I do know is that Josh Cherry will be on a short leash. Missed field goals and extra points are not tolerated by Bill Snyder. The problem you face when a kicker gets the shanks is that it destroys his confidence, which in turn creates a snowball effect that can lead to even worse performance. Don't expect Josh to magically get his groove back and nail three 50+ yard field goals this week. Remember, this is his first time in the spotlight, so you bet the sphyncter is a little tight.
I truly hope our offense doesn't become too one-dimensional early in this game. Rick Nieuhesel is expecting Snyder to run the ball, and if we continue to run it up the middle against 8 or 9 guys in the box, we'll find ourselves in a hole too deep to climb out of without an effective passing game. I believe Carson Coffman is a smart kid who is definitely working extra to try and figure out how he can raise his game a couple of notches. His is the case of probably playing a little too tight the last couple of games and forcing plays to try and make something happen. He doesn't need to be spectacular; just complete about 60% of his passes, don't throw interceptions, hit the open short man, and run the option effectively.
TB: I agree with leaving nothing in the bag, but please, Lord, no halfback passes. That will bring back nightmares.