UCLA hoping to avoid 'trap game' in Pullman
NOV 09, 2012 2:49p ET
With the UCLA head coach's team coming off their biggest win of the season - a 66-10 drubbing of Arizona - the question arose of whether or not this week's contest against cellar-dwelling Washington State (2-7, 0-6 Pac 12) could potentially be one of those games in which the 18th-ranked Bruins let their guard down.
"I don't believe in trap games," Mora said. "I've never used that word with the team, I never will use that word with the team. I've never heard a coach use it with the team and I'd never expect to hear it used with a team and I've been with some pretty darned good coaches."
The odds heavily favor the Bruins this week. Washington State has not beaten a ranked opponent in 20 attempts. The Cougars are in the midst of a dismal season under first-year head coach Mike Leach. Yet still, there is no trap set.
"I think we'll get Washington State's very, very best," Mora said.
Leach has yet to fully implement his complex system that is his calling card, which is to be expected in his first season at the helm. The running game has been nearly non-existent behind an offensive line that has been in a sieve, allowing 40 sacks, which is tied with Colorado for the most in the Pac-12.
The one thing that the Cougars have done well is the throw the football. Primarily led by Jeff Tuell with the supporting role played by Connor Halliday, the Cougars are consistently averaging more than 300 (324) passing yards per game, good enough for second in the Pac 12.
"They run a complicated offense that we have to diagnose," Mora said. "They do a great job of spreading the field vertically and horizontally."
But the complication will likely be on the part of the Bruins' offense. After scoring the most points in seven years last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, the question for the Bruins is whether or not they can keep putting up gaudy numbers in the last three regular season games.
"It's really hard to stop this offense," said quarterback Brett Hundley. "As long as we do what we need to do we can put up points like that."
Now in the 11th week of play, the offensive contributions of Hundley, Johnathan Franklin, Joseph Fauria and Shaquille Evans have been well-told. A wide array of characters have helped the Bruins to the 11th-best offense in country, with Hundley's numbers (2,478 passing yards, 283 rushing yards) good enough to rank him 17th in the FBS. Combined with a defense that has created 22 turnovers already this season, the Bruins are playing like an offense coordinator's dream team.
"You know how us offensive guys are – we want 600 yards and 60 points every week. But that's hard to come by," said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. "But I tell you what, it makes it easy when (defensive coordinator) Lou (Spanos) just keeps giving us back the football."
The Bruins are poised for a tremendous run coming into the final stretch of the season. At 7-2 and 4-2 in the conference, they sit atop a tumultuous Pac-12 South. In Mora's first season, he's almost made it look easy at times. However, the same cannot be said for Leach's Cougars.
Washington State will also be without star receiver Marquess Wilson, making this week's challenge more of an uphill battle. Wilson was suspended after leaving Sunday's practice during what was reported to be an especially strenuous conditioning workout.
The Cougars are a team that, at this point, is only trying to salvage some positive developments of Leach's ultra-intricate system.
"I always knew it would be challenging but you just keep working," Leach said. "That's the whole thrill of coaching is working hard and overcoming the obstacles and seeing people emerge and improve."
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