UCLA can thank former Cardinal RB Toby Gerhart for going to the NFL, as they won't have to tackle him again in Saturday's Pac-10 opener at the Rose Bowl
The Bruins’ front seven got trampled by tailback Daniel Thomas and Kansas State for 313 team rush yards in the opener. While Thomas is a very talented back, the Bruins will surely face even better running games further along in their schedule.
Although Stanford employed a run-first attack in 2009 before former “bell cow” tailback Toby Gerhardt went pro, the 25th ranked Cardinal is now quarterback Andrew Luck’s offense.
Luck fared well in his first 2010 game against cupcake Sacramento State with 316 yards and four touchdown passes. Furthermore, Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh now has plenty of game film on the pitiful performance by the Bruins down lineman and linebackers against KSU, and will likely exploit this weakness in UCLA’s defense.
Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel addressed the defensive line issues by stating that, moving forward, he’ll employ a more consistent rotation to minimize starters’ fatigue as the game progresses. While many of the backup d-linemen are young and inexperienced, CRN may be forced to play freshmen he planned on having redshirt their first year.
A prime example is DT Seali’i Epenesa, of whom Neuheisel said, “You make sure if you're going to use his year, you don't use him for three or four plays a game. If he can play 10-15 plays, obviously that's a legitimate freshman year.”
Whether or not Epenesa doffs his red shirt, Neuheisel and defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough will have to find ways to keep the defensive starters fresh throughout the game.