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Pregame Guesses: UC Berkeley Golden Bears at UCLA Bruins
Well, that escalated quickly.
So, that sucked. The UCLA v. Utah game was cancelled due to COVID issues with the Utah Utes, shortly after Pregame Guesses was published and, more specifically, after I guessed in my bonus guess that the game would be played. Ugh.
But, when I woke up this morning, I saw that the UC Berkeley v. Arizona State game was cancelled. Then, I saw that the Golden Bears agreed to play the Bruins tomorrow. Hooray! Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!
It has been quite a scramble at The Mighty Bruin to try to publish a week’s worth of content in a half day, exacerbated, at least for me, due to the fact I am turning 51 tomorrow and have a lot on my plate this birthday weekend. So, please forgive me for this “quick and dirty” PGG in which two of the three questions from the Utah PGG have been recycled for this article, since they do not really pertain to our opponent, only to UCLA’s performance this weekend.
But first, let’s get to the music selection.
For Utah, I had chosen Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” mostly as a feel good, uplifting song during these tough times and with the hope that UCLA football can return from the brink of the abyss sooner rather than later, although that is a lot to ask of the program right now. Coincidentally, I could have recycled Journey for this PGG because that band fits for UC Berkeley too, since Journey hails from the Bay Area. Since I am recycling two PGG questions from the Utah article, I could just recycle the legendary Journey hit too, right?
Sorry, gbruin, but I am going in a different direction. I am still choosing a Bay Area band, but my choice is much more obscure—although Los Angeles KROQ fans, Bay Area KQAK fans, and San Diego 91X fans from the early 80s will remember it. Some folks think these guys were a one-hit wonder (more on that in a minute) but, even if they were, their one hit was, in my opinion, a great song that always makes me wax nostalgic when I hear it on “First Wave” on Sirius XM radio. The Bay Area based band is “Wire Train” and their biggest hit is this song, “Chamber of Hellos”:
Hey, they were on American Bandstand! And that is outstanding lip-syncing because this is, indeed, the studio version of this tune. Although the song really has no relevance to UCLA football, other than the fact that the Bruins are playing a Bay Area-based team, Wire Train IS from the Bay Area. So, there’s that. I do really like the flamenco-influenced guitar after the intro leading into the first verse and in other instrumental interludes of the song. Also, Wire Train was not a one-hit wonder. They had another great song called “I’ll Do You.” Check it out on You Tube if you liked this one.
On to the guesses . . .
UC Berkeley was supposed to play Washington last weekend but, due to COVID issues with the Golden Bears, they had to cancel their game versus the Huskies. So, we really have no preview of how our sister school from up north will be playing this season. I do know this: UC Berkeley returns an experienced wide receiver corps and the Bruins looked terrible in third and long pass defense last week. The Bruins allowed Colorado to convert 9 of 19 third downs last week, slotting UCLA at #102 out of 123 teams in 3rd down conversion defense. Five of those conversions were on 3rd and 8 or longer, with the Buffs converting on a 3rd and 12 and a 3rd and 19 on the same drive. UCLA’s third down pass rush must be better as must its pass coverage on third and long. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: How many third downs will UC Berkeley have and how many will it convert for first downs against the UCLA defense?
I am going to continue to pick on the Bruin defense. UCLA’s tackling last week was horrendous. Atrocious. Shambolic. Although it had been bad in past seasons, last week really took the cake, IMO. It seemed like on every running play at least two Bruins would miss tackles that should have been made. I understand that, maybe, teams aren’t doing tackling as much in practice as in the past, and this has likely been magnified by COVID, but that does not excuse UCLA’s performance. Three of the four of UCLA’s top tacklers last week were defensive backs. The highest linebacker on the list was sixth in tackles—UC Caleb Johnson, with five tackles. Safety Stephen Blaylock led the team with eleven tackles. That tells you all you need to know, but this is borne out by the statistics too. Through one game, UCLA’s rushing defense is #120 out of #123 teams. And that is right on par for Jerry Azzinaro’s defense. Pre-Game Guess Number 2: Who will lead UCLA in tackles versus UC Berkeley?
OK. Let’s shoot for a positive here. With the departure of Devin Asiasi and the transfer of Jordan Wilson, the tight end position at UCLA was looking a bit thin this season. Especially since Dorian Thompson-Robinson has leaned heavily on his tight ends during his UCLA career. But redshirt sophomore Greg Dulcich stepped in last Saturday and looked great for the Bruins, hauling in four passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He looked the part. And he could have had more but for some miscommunication where he looked over one shoulder and the ball was thrown over the other on two plays. Not sure who was at fault for that, but nevertheless, Dulcich was THE bright spot for the Bruins. Moreover, the backup tight end, Mike Martinez, also shined in a lesser role, grabbing two balls, one of which was for a touchdown, for a total of 24 yards. Combined, UCLA’s tight ends accounted for 150 yards and two touchdowns, on six catches. That’s a 25 yard average and represents almost half of DTR’s 303 passing yards versus the Buffs. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Between the two of them, how many catches, yards, and touchdowns will Dulcich and Martinez have between the two of them against UC Berkeley?
And, with that, this week’s Pregame Guesses come to a close. No time for a bonus guess this week. Sorry! Make your guesses and let us know your thoughts on all things UCLA football in the comments below!
Go Bruins! Beat Berkeley!!