Friday, October 19, 2007

Orange County Register: Bruins plan to keep ball away from Cal's Jackson

UCLA has to determine the best way to deal with DeSean Jackson when punting the football to Cal on Saturday, and playing keep away with the Golden Bears' superb return man has been the best option for other teams.   Jackson has had a chance to return just eight punts — Cal opponents have punted 32 times — since taking his first this season 77 yards for a touchdown against Tennessee.  "We need to know where he is. We need to sometimes place the ball not exactly where he is and make him work for it," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "And we need to cover. We need to cover really well. He's a very good player and we need to do our jobs in our coverage teams and make him work real good for it. "We're going to try to do a number of things to help him not get in rhythm. We're going to pay attention to his strengths and make sure we try to neutralize those strengths." UCLA punter Aaron Perez has been working this week on directional kicking, directing the ball to specific areas of the field. Cal's opponents have had some success keeping Jackson on the move under the football. Since that return against Tennessee, he has averaged just 3.75 yards on the punts he has been able to get to and return.

Perez has had a solid season, averaging 42.9 yards on 34 kicks. But hang time has been an issue occasionally. The Bruins have had to cover 16 punt returns, the third-highest total in the Pac-10.  Before the season, Cal coach Jeff Tedford said he would find a way to keep the ball away from Jackson if he were on the other sideline.  "If we were playing against DeSean, we would probably try to keep the ball away from him somehow," Tedford told the San Francisco Chronicle. '"When we play great punt returners, we do that, and I would say that he's in the category of being a great punt returner." Tedford apparently has a short memory. The last time Cal played at the Rose Bowl, it had the Bruins down, 14-0, in the first quarter when Maurice Drew returned a punt 69 yards to set up a touchdown. Cal was up, 27-21, in the third quarter when Drew took another punt back 81 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bruins a lead. Drew also would fit in the category of being a great punt returner. He led the nation that season, averaging 28.5 yards on 15 returns and scoring three touchdowns.


The game against the Golden Bears is a sellout. It will be the Bruins' fourth consecutive crowd in excess of 70,000, the first time that has happened in one season since they started playing at the Rose Bowl in 1982. …  The Bruins have beaten the past three ranked opponents to come into the Rose Bowl — No. 2 USC last season, No. 10 Cal and No. 21 Oklahoma in 2005. …  Running back Chris Markey was able to get into practice for a few plays, but his status for Cal remains a question because of a bad case of turf toe. Christian Ramirez, though, is making progress in a back up role. "It looks like he's more confident in knowing what he's doing," Coach Karl Dorrell said. "He's doing a great job in protections, understands our run system better and he's going to get a chance to play." … Kahlil Bell, who was limited against Notre Dame because of a shoulder injury, will start and said he is ready to carry more of the load.…  Micah Reed, who was awarded a scholarship just before the season started, will start against the Golden Bears at right guard ahead of senior Noah Sutherland.


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