Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruins Host Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors
How well will each squad rush the ball? Predict the final score of UCLA versus Hawai'i. And chill with some island sounds.
Welcome to another season of Pregame Guesses! College football season officially kicks off tomorrow and that is something that all Bruin fans can celebrate! Woo-hoo!
This will be the eighth year that I’ve been writing this weekly piece on the eve of UCLA football games, and the second year doing so for The Mighty Bruin. This is probably the most excited I have been about the Bruins since 2015—which didn’t turn out as well as expected (8-5, 5-4 Pac-12)—but I think most folks on this site would accept such a record in 2021 after five straight losing seasons. I am looking forward to the journey with this community!
For those who are new to this weekly article, here is a brief refresher. The day before the game, I put forth three questions about the upcoming UCLA football game and invite you, the readers, to submit your answers about the game. Sometimes the questions have multiple subparts. Sometimes there is a bonus guess. Tying it all together is a You Tube clip of a song that typically has some relevance to the upcoming game. The idea is that you can listen to the tune while you read the article and/or make your guesses. Savvy?
Since we are playing Hawai’i this week, I am picking an artist who hails from the Aloha State. He also got his degree from our sister school up the coast, UCSB. As a transplanted Californian and avid surfer, especially in my younger days, I’ve been a big fan of Jack Johnson, a former professional surfer, since he came onto the scene in the early 2000s. Although I am not able to catch waves as much as I used to, I still love this artist’s chill vibe. Super relaxing. Johnson has a number of “hits” but my selection today is a lesser known tune of his (which also happens to be my favorite), the lyrics of which still have relevance today. This is “Cookie Jar” from Johnson’s second album, “On and On.” Enjoy.
Let’s get on with the guesses . . .
As I am sure is the case with many of you out there, NFL fantasy football drafts are in full swing. Indeed, mine is literally right before the UCLA game tomorrow. Running backs are on my mind and, as those of you who play fantasy football can appreciate, it is usually wise to avoid running backs on teams that have a “running back by committee” approach (like the 2021 Buffalo Bills). Instead, you want a “bell cow” back who gets a lot of touches and does not have a ton competition in the backfield (Christian McCaffrey anyone?).
It appears that UCLA will fall into the latter category this season. Although Demetric Felton has moved on to the NFL, the Bruins return Brittain Brown, who was highly effective last season after coming to UCLA from Duke. Brown, who measures, 6’1” and 205 lbs., had 82 carries for 542 yards, four rushing touchdowns, and a 6.6 yards per carry average in just seven games last season. Brown also caught six passes and found the end zone on one of those. He seemed set to be UCLA’s “bell cow” back until . . .
. . . Zach Charbonnet transferred to UCLA from Michigan during the Spring. The 6’1”, 220 lb. junior only carried the ball 19 times last season, but had a big freshman year in 2019, carrying the rock 149 times for 726 yards, a 4.9 yards per carry average, and 11 touchdowns.
It seems to me that both of these guys will get a significant amount of carries this season. What do you think?
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: Predict the number of carries Brown will have, along with his total rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in the Hawai’i game. Do the same for Charbonnet.
Two seasons ago, I was very vocal in my displeasure for Jerry Azzanaro’s defense at UCLA. In 2020, however, the Bruin defense made significant improvement, especially with stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. Last year, the Bruins only allowed 3.6 yards per carry, and 135.7 yards per game. They got to the quarterback 23 times in seven games, better than three sacks per game.
Although the pass defense still left a lot to be desired last year, UCLA does return ten of its eleven starting defenders from last season, including all of the secondary. Only Osa Odighizuwa does not return, although Osa was a big part of UCLA’s relative success on defense last year.
The Bruins will face a Hawai’i offensive that was pedestrian, by its standards, in 2020. The Rainbow Warriors, historically known for a high-flying aerial attack, only averaged 384 yards of total offense and 26 points per game. Returning quarterback, Chevan Cordiero, is known more for his legs than his arm, and led Hawai’i is rushing yards last season, while Hawai’i only threw for slightly more than 200 yards per game. So, it is reasonable to expect that the Rainbow Warriors will continue to run the ball. Will UCLA be able to answer this rushing attack?
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: PPG number two is a two-parter. How many rushing yards will UCLA allow? How many rushing touchdowns will the Bruins concede?
We are going to keep it simple for PGG number three.
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER THREE: Predict the final score of tomorrow’s game versus Hawai’i.
UCLA fan support at the Rose Bowl has always been a curiosity. Our alma mater is 26 miles from the stadium and fan support has always been a struggle it seems. With no students in class at the time of non-conference home openers, attendance can often times fail to meet expectations, especially in these games. I hope that our new athletic director, Martin Jarmond, who has done well in other areas since coming into the position last year, can find new ways to encourage folks to get out and support the Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Will fans turn out for this game versus a Mountain West opponent, with a HUGE match-up versus LSU just a week away?
BONUS GUESS: Predict the attendance for tomorrow’s game versus Hawai’i.
That’s all for this week! Make your guesses and/or let us know your thoughts on all things UCLA football in the comments below!
Brown will be the story, 17 carries 85 yards and 1 TD, Charbonnet the flash, 5 carries 65 yards and 1 TD. Defense gets better, concedes only 115 yards and 1 TD. Final score UCLA 31 Hawaii 17.
By the way, Jack Johnson is one of the best of his generation.