Bruins hope to never forget

SALT LAKE CITY –

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, American soldiers carried a familiar battle cry into the Pacific theatre.

Remember the Arizona.

It was to remind the soldiers of what they were fighting for after the sinking of the USS Arizona, which dropped to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Seventy years later, UCLA football players are using that very same message, albeit from a very different source, the day their program was sunk.

Or so we thought.

That 48-12 loss to the Wildcats on Oct. 20 was supposed to send UCLA into a tailspin, the collective follies of three years of rather forgettable football all culminating in that embarrassing defeat.

Only, it hasn’t.

UCLA has won two straight heading into today’s contest at Utah, including a 29-28 thriller over No. 19 Arizona State last Saturday that put the Bruins tied with the Sun Devils atop the Pac-12 South.

But despite the recent success, the rally cry remains the same.

“Don’t ever forget Arizona,” offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said. “Arizona is something that you always keep in the back of your mind. You never forget that feeling. You remember that feeling you had in Arizona when we came out of that locker room, and it makes you play hard. If you have any pride within yourself, you have to come out and play hard so you don’t embarrass yourself the way we did in Arizona.”

But the message throughout this week? Almost the exact opposite.

Forget Arizona State.

The Bruins can ill-afford to rest on their laurels today in a place that has been unforgiving of late, Rice-Eccles Stadium, where Utah won 44-6 in the teams’ last matchup in 2007.

They understand that a win over the Sun Devils means little if it’s followed by a loss to the Utes, a defeat that would drop the team back to .500.

“It’s pretty easy for us, considering we’re only 5-4,” quarterback Kevin Prince said. “We’re absolutely still humble, especially when we’re eight-point underdogs. That really humbles you real quick. You beat a ranked opponent and you’re still eight-point underdog? There’s a lot more to prove to the public and even to people in this program. We haven’t deserved to be favorites yet.”

Not with an offense that, despite recent success, has still displayed inconsistency and a propensity for turnovers and penalties.

Not with a defense ranked 76th or worse in all four major categories, including a 95th ranking (out of 120 FBS teams) in total defense at 427.9 yards per game.

Not with Utah running back John White in the offing, ready to build on his 113.8 yards per game, which ranks third in the Pac-12 and 16th nationally.

“That’s the biggest thing this week, coming into Utah – they’re going to try to run the ball and make us stop them,” UCLA junior middle linebacker Patrick Larimore said. “We’ve struggled with that, and White’s a good running back with good speed and vision, so it’s going to be a big challenge. The biggest thing is when we put them on tape, they’re a real physical team, a real tough team. It stands out.”

UCLA’s challenge this week, once more match the physicality of the opponent.

If Prince continues to run the way he has in recent weeks, the Bruins will have a chance.
The embattled quarterback has surged in the past two weeks, gaining 264 rushing yards while perplexing defenses with his option running. His play as of late has opened up the UCLA ground game, and Derrick Coleman has been the primary beneficiary, totaling 189 yards and five touchdowns in the Bruins’ back-to-back wins.

As long as Prince runs with the same reckless abandon he has recently, the Pistol will continue to thrive under the tutelage of Johnson and running game coordinator Jim Mastro, whose symmetry has improved through the course of the season.

“The plays come out of his mouth, but there are times in a game when I say, ‘Hey mike, what about…,’ and he finishes what I’m about to say,” Mastro said. “Now we’re at the point where I kinda know where he’s going next.”

It helps that Johnson knows a thing or two about running a multi-purpose game, as a former college quarterback.

It also helps that he knows a thing or two about defeat.

And that he remembers it.

“I had a game in college when I was playing, and I threw four picks in the first half and we lost,” Johnson said. “I’d like to forget that game, but I contributed to it. It was almost like I was point-shaving. I was tossing ‘em up. You put it in the back of your mind, but you move forward. It’s something you don’t want to define you as a player.
“Same thing with the Arizona game, we didn’t want that to define us.”

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  • Anon

    And… the basketball team is overrated specially those so-called front lines. They can’t even hang with LMU.

  • http://corinnem Ley

    Wow….if that’s our back court (Zeke-Lamb) we should probably cancel those plane tickets to Maui!!!!

  • JL

    WTF has happened to UCLA? At least we’re not Penn State….. I guess???

  • Anonymous

    Thanks lee and honeycutt, I hope you’re enjoying your fat NBA paychecks…

  • Anonymous

    I hope Jeremie Anderson comes back soon because a healthy Zeke looked like he hadn’t picked up a basketball in about a year (1 for 11? Maybe stop shooting at some point) and Smith was the same as last year. What did he have 5 points and three fouls? Wear twins looked great!

  • Semi-Pro

    No perimeter defense. Bruins let LMU shoot 67% from 3-pt range. Not gonna win many letting THAT happen.

  • Anonymous

    Perimeter defense? Zeke was a major liability on that side of the ball too. I hope Anderson is learning a lesson.

  • http://corinnem Ley

    Probably the most disturbing thing about this game is Zeke has not made one comment on his Poor Poor Play in last nights game. What happened to this I’ve been playing against NBA players all summer player??/ Your supposed to be the floor general….Stand up, take some responsibility, don’t hide and be a @#$% leader!!!

  • .mownyc

    Remember when ucla used to hammer schools like LMU, can you remember that far back bRUINS ? Well, today you’re gonna be the nail and Utah is gonna be the hammer.

  • Anonymous

    Ain’t gonna happen.

  • MichaelRyerson

    “Remember the Arizona”?? What th…? Do you mean “Remember the Maine”? ‘Remember the Arizona’ was never a ‘battle cry’ whatever the hell that is. I hope our guys aren’t shouting Remember the Arizona at each other on the practice field, or muttering it either. Criminy, that sounds like something John Belushi would try to sell to the Delts.

  • bguyla

    Don’t forget to remember,

    “We’re still a terrible team!”

  • Amillennialist

    “In August of 1982, I was asked by the superintendent of the USS Arizona Memorial to examine the remains of the giant warship and assess what it would take to map it in its historic context on the harbor bottom. “No problem” was my answer. I was prime for a quick lesson in humility. Here was the tomb of over a thousand sailors and marines, the ship whose name was on the lips of hundreds of thousands of American fighting men bent on revenge after the “day of infamy,” men who shouted “Remember the Arizona” as they engaged the Japanese in battle after bloody battle in the Pacific theater.” (http://www.pastfoundation.org/Arizona/AZRevisited.htm)

    It looks like you know neither Obama (http://www.insidesocal.com/ucla/2011/10/post-practice-update-131.html) nor World War II, Michael.

    (If I were to complain about the reference, it would be that the loss of thousands of American lives is no comparison to losing a football game, but as someone who also enjoys clever wordplay, I understand what Jon was thinking.)

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/ucla Jon Gold

    Uh, yeah it was.

  • MichaelRyerson

    Uh, no it wasn’t. Regardless of what a publicity seeking monument superintendent might ‘remember’ it was never a battle cry on the lips of…uh…hundreds of thousands?? of fighting men? don’t make me laugh. let’s keep it real. I understand poetic license as well as the next guy and I also recognise jingoistic gibberish when I see it. I’m old enough to remember the postwar period immediately following the war, say 1947ish and on, ‘Remember the Arizona’ played no role in anyone’s recollection. It may have been a sentiment but it wasn’t a battle cry on any level. The very idea of a battle cry went out with the cavalry charge.

  • Amillennialist

    “Remember the Arizona!” was the battle cry of American sailors stationed in the Pacific during World War II. The mighty warship, which was bombed at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, became and remains to this day a symbol and rallying point for America’s sudden entrance into war” (http://books.google.com/books/about/The_USS_Arizona.html?id=JbOKScBcdu8C).

    The battle cry that was used on materials to send the US into the war was “Remember the Arizona” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhMzUoI5oHs).

    As we cried, “Remember the Maine!” in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, we cried “Remember the Arizona!” in 1941, with far more vigor (http://www.amazon.com/Revell-426-Uss-Arizona-Battleship/product-reviews/B000063V7L).

    In World War II the rallying cry was “Remember the Arizona”- to recall the attack on Pearl Harbor and unite in fighting for the survival of the nation and its unique constitutional form of government (http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/13817).

    60 years ago this month the USS Arizona was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Remember the Arizona became the rallying cry as the US Navy made it’s way across the Pacific during World War Two. There have been quite a few models made of this ship, but few have done her justice (http://www.modelwarships.com/reviews/ships/bb/bb-39/700-hp/bb-39-hp.html).