Hey, Don’t Those Plays Look Familiar?
When UCLA lines up against Texas A&M; on New Year’s Day, it will be a little like practice at Spaulding Field, except that the Aggies will be wearing dark red jerseys.
When A&M; brought in Steve Marshall from UCLA to be the offensive coordinator, the Aggies also brought in the Bruin offense, with, perhaps, some limitations.
“They do some of the same things we do,” UCLA Coach Bob Toledo said. “They’ve taken the running game and a little bit of the passing game that we run.”
And also some of the same philosophy.
“Coach Marshall put in some of his personality, but they basically run it first and then pass it,” Bruin defensive coordinator Rocky Long said. “It’s difficult to defend. What you have to do is make them one-dimensional.”
In the case of the Cotton Bowl, that means to head off the run and make Texas A&M; quarterback Branndon Stewart pass. At that, he does not match UCLA’s Cade McNown, nor does he have the maneuverability or experience.
What Marshall brings in the area of UCLA insight is another issue.
“I think the advantage [of having Marshall so recently from the Bruin staff] is that he can offer us an idea of the personnel,” Aggie Coach R.C. Slocum said. “Other than that, I don’t think there’s an advantage at all.”
With College Station, Texas, a bit nearer Dallas than Westwood is, Texas A&M; got in a day of practice Friday at Southern Methodist’s Ownby Stadium. The Bruins were to arrive at their Dallas hotel today and practice at noon for the first time since Tuesday. They will work out at Texas Stadium in Irving.
The Aggies’ bowl problems--they have lost in their last three Cotton Bowl appearances--have generated a change in their postseason preparation. They worked harder, with more contact, in 1995 to play Michigan in the Alamo Bowl and won, 22-20. They are continuing that philosophy this year and finished their final on-campus workout Monday with a scrimmage.
Texas A&M; is nursing some injuries. Starting guard Semisi Heimuli has back spasms, nose guard Marcus Heard has a sore neck, and linebacker Sean Coryatt an ankle injury. Among the Bruins, only backup running back Keith Brown is out, because of an injured knee.
UCLA will be playing in its 21st bowl game and has a record of 10-9-1. It is the Bruins’ second Cotton Bowl. They beat Arkansas in Dallas in 1989, 17-3.
The Dallas weather offered a bit of everything Friday. It rained during the early morning until an hour before dawn, when snow began falling. About one inch accumulated, after which the sun came out and melted the snow. But the day ended with sub-freezing temperatures. A warming trend is expected, with highs in the 60s the first of the week.