WSU faces a pistol in UCLA
WSU will be challenged to shut down UCLA's running game
PASADENA, Calif. — UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel is many things, but dumb is not one of them.
He knew his Bruins, 7-6 a year ago, couldn't compete for the Pac-10 title if they continued to run so poorly.
"We weren't good enough, we had to look ourselves in the mirror and we had to fix something," he said, pointing out the Bruins had rushed for just 114.6 yards a game last season.
"Now, it was where were we going to go to seek the answers."
The answer was Reno, where the Bruins offensive staff learned the pistol offense at its origin, the University of Nevada.
"I wasn't that concerned about taking the leap," Neuheisel said, "because I had done it before (when he first got to Washington in 1999) and had great success with it. I also told the guys who hadn't been through it before, it's fun to learn a new offense and a new scheme."
The offense — with the quarterback in a short shotgun formation and the running back directly behind him — is, in Neuheisel's words, just the veer from the shotgun.
All this is bad news for Washington State, which faces the Bruins on Saturday afternoon in the Rose Bowl. The Cougars will bring in the conference's ninth-ranked rush defense (209.8 yards a game). Can the Cougars stop the Bruins attack?
"(The pistol) stresses discipline the most, just like an option outfit," said linebackers coach Travis Niekamp, whose group struggled last week in a 50-16 defeat against USC. "There's a lot of motions, whether it be a fly motion, the tight end falling back across the formation, those type of things.
"If you don't have your eyes where they need to be, you're going to be in trouble."
There was a glimmer of good news for the Cougs (1-3, 0-1 in Pac-10). UCLA (2-2, 0-1) starting quarterback Kevin Prince, who has come into his own the past two weeks, banged his knee last week at Texas and is a game-time decision.
If he can't go, Richard Breuhart, a sophomore, should make his first start.
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