Westgate Brings The Noise

CORVALLIS, ORE. – With the defense down after a dreadful performance against Texas and starting senior safety Tony Dye out with a stinger, UCLA needed someone to emerge last week as it prepared for Oregon State.

Yet the Bruins were unenthusiastic, whispering, quieter than a monastery during a prayer service.

Senior linebacker Sean Westgate heard it – or didn’t hear anything, rather – and figured he’d need to fill the white noise.

UCLA responded to Westgate’s rallying cry and held the Beavers to 88 rushing yards in a 27-19 win at Reser Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“No one was really stepping up into that vocal spot,” Westgate said. “That’s not my strong suit, never has been – I’m a lead by example guy, do my own thing, stay quiet, humble – but with Tony down and the morale down, someone had to step up. I sat there and said, ‘Why can’t I do it?’, because I feel I’ve earned trust of players.”

So Westgate yelled, and his teammates yelled back. He pumped his fist, and his teammates punched theirs, Spaulding Field turning into Rocky’s gym. They whooped and they hollered and more importantly, they ran to the ball, turning a week’s worth of intensity into a key effort.

While the Bruins allowed 287 passing yards and 8-of-16 third-down conversions, they tackled better than they have all year and a defense that has seemingly bent at the will of its opponents did not break.

“I talked about it last week against Texas – in the fourth quarter, we kept fighting,” defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. “That’s gotta be our attitude from kickoff, and it was. We kept fighting. Got in some bad situations, but we bent – it was the old bend but don’t break deal. We just kept fighting and kept fighting. Gotta fight, gotta have that blue-collar mentality for 60 minutes. I don’t know any way else.”

UCLA rebounded from a dreadful Longhorn lashing – Texas gained 488 yards and converted 9-of-15 on third down – with better gap-consciousness and containment. Beavers starting running back Terron Ward had 13 carries for just 26 yards, unable to move past the second unit, while the Bruins finished with a season-high six tackles for loss and added two takeaways.

“Whenever you put so much time and effort and passion into something and it’s not going the way you want it, you lose maybe not a sense of pride, but it’s devastating,” linebackers coach Clark Lea said. “We all pride ourselves on our work ethic, and that hadn’t waivered from Week 1 until now. But you want to gain back some of the respectability on the field. I think we saw some of that today.”

Perhaps more importantly, though, UCLA improved in the tackling department, which has been a plague the first three weeks.

Oregon State converted just four of its last 11 third downs and did not pick up a single third down on the ground.

“It pisses you off,” Westgate said. “If you’re a front-seven guy, it just pisses you off. That’s your job. That’s your baby, the run game. Giving up run plays, especially on missed tackles, it hurts. We wanted to stop that, and I feel we did today.”

Not Saturday, though. It started mid-week, with Westgate bringing a little vocal adrenaline.
It carried into game-time, though, as his teammates responded, flying to each other after a good play, dragging each other up by the shoulder pads after a mistake.

“What really excited me, what kept me doing it, was the response I got from the guys,” said Westgate, who had the team’s lone interception. “I did it, and I had young guys jumping in, jumping on board ready to go, guys who are tired of losing, everybody tired of losing.

“I just got it started a little bit.”

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  • JC

    3 players that should not be playing unless their on Special Teams:

    1. Westget
    2. Edison
    3. Mascarenas

  • Anonymous

    lolz, JC

    “they’re”
    “westgate”

    keep it up bud, talk trash on the guys who play for ucla, and keep dreaming that you could get into our school. I thought guys like you were all on the USC bandwagon.

  • JC

    Just an FYI Bro, I’m form Class of 2006.. Not talking trash is just the way I see it…

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    JC: To watch that game and say Westgate does not belong on first-team defense shows you are smoking some nasty junk. Read Jon’s article: He’s doing more than just tackling now, too. And he’s getting better help and reps now from studs like Love & Kendricks & Zumwalt … of all the things you can complain about (CRN, TRESSEY, the FUGGIN PISTOL, etc.) one you shouldn’t be bitchin about is Westgate.
    His pick got the train rolling and his later STRONG solo tackle on their stud tight end on a 3rd and short helped preserve the win.
    What gives?
    No Mascarenas? Do you realize we are probably down Sheldon Price in our hospital-ward-of-a-secondary now, too? Who do you want out there?
    No, don’t answer, you’ll probably say Verner.
    He’s (puff) … in the league now, man!

  • mickificki

    westgate is the most overrated bruin on this team. i don’t get why you guys always tout his heart and fight. yeah, he’s got a great heart, and i wish all the other bruins had his heart, but…

    holy hell, he just stinks. he takes bad angles, he’s completely overmatched MOST of the time (he did have a good stop on 4th down today, but i’ll bet he either outweighed the guy or was the same weight, which is rare), is short and has short arms, is not fast…ie, his range, lateral range and speed, are completely lacking for his position.

    we need someone who’s maybe less experienced but has better athleticism and better range.

  • Rich

    “Bend don’t break:” how I hate that f*cking phrase, particularly as it relates to Bruin defense. That mentality has been the reason for our poor record over the last 3 years as nearly anything else…

  • Stan

    I have to agree with mickificki. Westgate is overmatched the majority of the game. Yes, I loved the pick, but the QB threw it right at him. The linebackers are killing this defense. Love is the only athlete that can handle the position as a difference maker. The rest have no linebacker speed or killer instinct. It’s also unfortunate to hear CRN mention that this is a running football team on offense. What a shame. I know now that he has forgotten what conference he plays in. 11 pass attempts by Brehaut won’t get it done in the remaining games. If CRN just wants to establish the run, then he should play his best players at the postion. That means Hundley running the show. That is what makes the pistol fire off, right? A mobile QB that is a running threat. Arent all you Bruin fans sick of ‘waiting until next year’? How about waiting for two more years until we see #17 on the field. Oh well, two more years of crap and then the third year excuse will be it’s only Hundleys first year. Thanks Rick

  • Hideki

    Hey Alex Mascarenas had a INT on the 2 point conversion!