By Steve Finley
Special to the BVN
Pasadena - The UCLA Bruins Football team will travel north to Palo Alto to battle Stanford for the second week in a row this Friday for a 5 p.m. kick off. This time the stakes are higher and a possible Rose Bowl invitation is on the line. This time they will be playing for the Pacific-12 Championship on channel 11.
Bruins hope the outcome will be much different than last Saturdays’ 35-17 loss to Stanford. “We came out a little flat but we will adjust,” said senior running back Johnathan Franklin. Stanford’s defense held Franklin, UCLA’s all-time rushing leader to 65 yards on 21 carries. Franklin has rushed for 4,175 yards in four years. That’s good enough for fifth place in Pacific-12 history.
If UCLA expects to upset the No. 8 ranked Cardinals they will have to open holes for the hard running Franklin. That’s easier said than done against a Stanford team that plays hard nose football and makes very few mistakes. “They are a very physical team,” said UCLA head coach Jim Mora. “They have experience and they have been doing this for a long time. They have been running the same offenses and defenses and they are consistent. They have had the same coaches in their system for the last few years. They run the ball well, they tackle well and they block well.”
UCLA will also have to do a better job of protecting red-shirt quarterback Brett Hundley. For the first time this season the Stanford defense seemed to confuse Hundley. Hundley was sacked seven times Saturday. At times it appeared that Hundley had running room but he decided to throw into tight coverage. “To be honest I tried to sit in the pocket as long as I can and try to make the throws I need to make,” said Hundley. “I probably should have run a little more but I just have to play my game and try to help my team win the games.”
Stanford head coach David Shaw expects to see a different Bruin team on Friday. “I expect them to give us everything they have,” said Shaw. “It’s going to be a real tough physical game. It’s going to be 10 times harder to beat UCLA again. It’s really hard to beat a team twice in one season not to mention twice in one week. They are going to come back with a chip on the shoulders.”
On defense the Bruins could not stop Stanford’s running attack led by senior Stepfan Taylor.
Two of UCLA’s top defensive players, linebackers Anthony Barr and tackle Datone Jones said they knew what was coming but they still could not stop the Cardinal. “It’s tough to prepare for something and you still can’t stop it,” said Barr. “We will go back to the drawing board and fix what we need to fix.”
Jones, who is one of the best defensive linemen in the Pacific-12 got Stanford’s attention from the beginning of the game to the end. The Cardinals double teamed him all day. “They did the same thing over and over again,” said Jones, “but we left a lot out on the field.”
Time will tell if the Bruins coaches and players can make the necessary adjustments that they need to make to win the Pacific-12 Conference game.
Steve Finley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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