1. UCLA's O-Line. They call them the Filthy Five. It's easy to see why they've earned it:
If we need to get an idea on how our OL are excelling in the current zone blocking scheme, we just have to watch the sequence in which Ryan Taylor - Pac-10 PoW from last week - loses his hat while getting into what appeared to be 3rd level in maintaining his block.
UCLA has a top-10 rushing offense. I know, right?
2. Allen Bradford, RB, USC. It can be difficult to stand out in SC's loaded stable of running backs. 223 yards, however, is a hell of a signal flare -- especially considering that, with just 21 carries, Bradford was averaging over 10 yards a touch.
3. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC. He's not always the guy at the top of the stat sheet, but 109 yards receiving on a dazzlingly-low six catches is something to behold. He's made some spectacular grabs this season, and this fat 109 bests his previous 2010 high by 40 yards. If he keeps this pace, he could sniff a 1,000-yard receiving season, and do it at Tailback U.
4. Jonathan Franklin RB, UCLA, whose name isn't spoken of widely outside the conference but who's a big slice of the numbers behind that top-10 ranking. He had 216 ground yards against Wazzu, following two straight 100+ games, and if he continues on this pace, he'll crack 1500 on the season.
5. Robert Woods, USC's freshman kick returner, who was one of the lonesome bright spots in the Trojans' game Saturday night. With the gamebreaking nature of his special-teams play and what those kinds of breaks do for team morale, it's possible his intangible worth is even more valuable to USC than his on-field actions. Still, the 163 yards gained for his efforts don't hurt.
6. UCLA's offensive identity. With the quarterback situation still more than a little unsettled thanks to injury on one side and inexperience on the other, the Bruins are headed into a situation where they'll host two top-10 teams in the next three weeks, plus play Cal on the road, without knowing who'll be driving the boat? Not auspicious.
7. USC's playcalling. About that mysterious pass play on 3rd-and-4 late in the game? Conquest Chronicles doesn't know quite what to think, either:
I don't usually complain about play calling but that last series where Barkley threw on 3rd and 4 was perplexing. Heck why not just run it twice. We eating up chunks of yards on them for a good portion of the night why not just keep with what was working. We clearly don't have a kicker so why put it in his hands? In fact I would have rather turned it over on downs trying to score a TD than let ANY kicker determine the outcome of the game.
8. UCLA's defensive coaching. Bruins Nation called DC Chuck Bullough's efforts "atrocious," adding:
I simply don't understand as a fan what Bullough and his staff are thinking when they keep going back to 3 linemen rushing and passively letting opposing teams repeatedly burn us on 3rd and long. From what I can see, it seems like Bullough basically relies on getting rush from his front while bringing disguised blitzes around the corner. It seemed to work against Houston and Texas. However, from what I can remember watching yesterday's game, didn't feel like we saw much of that until late in the game. There was no pressure on the quarterback, who seemed to have all day have a cup of coffee and pick apart our D, during that disastrous first half closing drive.
9. USC's defensive coaching. Some of the Trojan D's struggles can be attributed to wholesale regime change, but not everything:
The fact is the players are having a tough time grasping all of the subtleties of Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense.
When you consider that the team only gets 20 hours of prep per week it is easy to see that it is going to take a lot time to make things click.
The Tampa 2 also is not the defense of choice to stop the spread.
I find the unwillingness to adjust chilling. The personnel that we have right now is not grasping it and we have a number of teams on the schedule coming up that play the spread...is it going to be more of the same?
10. Los Angeles as the seat of college football power on the West Coast. There are three programs from the Pac-10 currently ranked in the top 25. None of them are local. Both teams hover just outside polling range. It's a world gone mad, I tell you.