The Buffs have no time to sit back and celebrate their fantastic victory over the CSU Rams, as the UCLA bruins make thier first visit to Folsom Field since 1984 this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1:37 PM and will be broadcast to 53% of the nation on ABC. With only 4,000 seats remaining at the beginning of the week and lots of fan excitement due to last week’s win, the game appears to be heading to a sellout. A number of questions stand out for the Buffs going into the game:
1. Did we see the real Joel Klatt on Saturday, or was it a fluke? Klatt was amazing against CSU and was recognized as the Big XII offensive player of the week along with the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated national player of the week. The question is, can Klatt avoid falling victim to his own press clippings? He’s saying all the right things to the media and appears to be a very humble guy. For what it’s worth, I think he’s the real deal. I’m sure he’ll struggle off and on, but I think we’ve found our QB for the next three years.
2. Can the secondary improve on their dismal performance? The defense in general was not impressive against CSU. Although they performed well against the run, Van Pelt had all kinds of time in order to pick apart our secondary. Sammy Joseph in particular looked completely lost out there. Hopefully they can chalk all of the mistakes up to inexperience and first game issues. There’s no doubt UCLA will test the secondary on Saturday.
3. Can the Buffs get the running game going? The running game was practically non-existant against the Rams. I attribute the lack of a ground game to two factors. First off were the mistakes of the O-Line. However, as the game wore on, they seemed to improve as a unit. They also managed to give Klatt plenty of time to throw, so hopefully they can work out the kinks in the run block sets before Saturday. Secondly, Lubick seemed to be stacking the box with 8 guys for most of the game in order to stop the run. I doubt UCLA will try this same tactic as Klatt and the CU receiving core showed that they have no trouble exploiting single coverage.
4. How will the off-season coaching moves affect the game? The loss of John Embree and Eric Bieniemy to UCLA was tough to swallow this off-season and has become a major topic leading up to this game. Barnett has been complaining all week that the Buffs are at a huge disadvantage due to the fact that UCLA will know all of CU’s plays, tendencies, and code words. Despite his claims, I don’t think it will make much difference. I can’t imagine that CU is still using the same code words and the offense appears to be quite a bit different than it was last year. Overall, it comes down to players having to execute and that’s where I think the Buffs have an advantage. This will be UCLA’s first game for a brand new coach. Mistakes on their side of the ball are likely and if the Buffs can take advantage, they should roll to victory.
CU 27, UCLA 10