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Five L.A. Football Storylines To Watch This Week

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Two road trips of uncertain degrees of difficulty await the Trojans and Bruins in Week 12. Here's what to watch for as USC ventures back to the Beavers and UCLA guns for the Huskies.

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1. Will this be Brehaut's breakout? Bruins Nation sees more and more potential in their replacement-part quarterback:

Practice reports indicate that Brehaut has looked increasingly comfortable and confident in recent weeks. I am guessing he will still make mistakes (as any young QB does) by trying to force the issue here and there. However, his pocket presence has improved dramatically from what we saw from him last year. The growing confidence is also resulting in net positive plays (keeping drives alive) more than making up for the occasional mistakes that is expected from a young QB (again people should look up what number 18 was doing during his first 10-15 starts in 96-97).

Note as well that Brehaut's been making some nice plays with his feet, and that while UW's pass defense is bad (ranked No. 93 nationally), their run defense is even worse (No. 114).

2. How are Matt Barkley's administrative skills? Conquest Chronicles preaches patience to Trojan fans waiting for Matt Barkley to blossom into a hyperefficient game manager:

I wouldn't say Barkley has happy feet but I would say, as do many others, that he still has trouble controlling his anxiety on the field.

It seems that there are times where if he is out of the game for long periods of time that Barkley gets cold...his production just drops off. [...] And Reser stadium in Corvallis is not the easiest place to play in so Barkley has his work cut out for him.

I have no worries that he won't get through it. It will just take time.

The bigger jump in production is between year 2 and year 3 so I would expect Barkley to work his way through this, but we need to start seeing that progress in the last three games of the season.


3. Can Chuck Bullough possibly pull out a statement game at this point? Bruins Nation thinks (well, hopes) UCLA's DC will be coaching for his job tonight:

Numbers don't lie. Chuck Bullough hasn't really gotten it done this season. That said Bruins do have the talent to inflict serious damage on the Huskies. Bruins have enough young weapons on their defense to bring pressure on Locker from all directions, disrupt his rhythm early and take him out of any kind of comfort zone. However, Bullogh comes out and takes a relaxed approach by sipping a caramel machiatto, and coast through with his base D, Bruins will once again suffer the usual death by thousand cuts.

This is another game which Bullough needs to approach with ramifications on his coaching career. He doesn't really have a lot of legit game highlights to bolster his resume. His only Thursday night appearance was a complete debacle. So if he wants to continue on as a DC in the college football ranks, tonight is a good opportunity for him to show that he can get creative and aggressive.


4. Is Oregon State playing possum?  It's rare to ask what to make of an opponent this far into November, but we've been doing it a lot this season, and the Beavers certainly merit some head-scratching. After playing No. 3 Boise State, No. 6 TCU, and No. 9 Arizona all valiantly in tight games, the Beavers have spent the past month or so giving oddsmakers utter fits. A double-overtime loss to Washington, a thorough trouncing of Cal, and back-to-back stumbles against UCLA and Washington State leave us utterly baffled as to what sort of team the Trojans will face this Saturday.

5. Will Washington quit Weebling? With three straight conference losses (and four losses out of the last five games), the Huskies would have to win out to even sniff bowl eligibility. Can a suddenly energized Bruins squad provide the knockout punch to their postseason hopes?