UCLA Football Preview: Arizona Will Look to Throw Against Bruins
With an anemic rushing attack, the Wildcats will be forced to turn to the air and dare the Bruins to stop them.
So far under Jedd Fisch, the Arizona offense has had problems with turnovers. It’s likely caused by the fact that the Wildcats are a pretty young in several key offensive positions. Let’s take a look at the Wildcat offense.
Last year, Arizona’s starter was Grant Gunnell and he started four games for Kevin Sumlin. Against the Bruins last year, Gunnell only played the first play from scrimmage before leaving the game. Of course, UCLA fans will remember Gunnell as the true freshman who started in place of Khalil Tate in 2019 and torched the defense for 352 yards and a touchdown as the Wildcats went on to win 20-17 that year.
Well, the good news for Bruin fans is that Gunnell left Tucson for Memphis after last season. His departure also left Jedd Fisch without a veteran starting quarterback, and it’s an area where the team has struggled.
Fisch has started three different quarterbacks in the Wildcats’ four games.
But, it looks like Fisch may have found his starter in sophomore transfer Jordan McCloud. McCloud comes to the Wildcats after playing in 20 games for USF in 2019 and 2020.
In finishing the game against Northern Arizona, McCloud completed six of seven passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. McCloud’s first game as a starter came two weeks ago against Oregon and he completed 21 of 35 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he also threw 5 interceptions into the hands of the Ducks’ defense.
McCloud is a mobile quarterback and is similar to Jayden Daniels in that respect. That has me thinking that the Bruins will try to play the same type of defense they played last week
And after the performance of the UCLA defense last week, I fully expect the Bruins to make McCloud look like a Heisman Trophy candidate tonight.
Wide Receivers and Tight End
That’s because have three starting wide receivers and a tight end with quite a bit of experience.
At the top of the list is redshirt junior Stanley Berryhill III. Against Oregon, Berryhill caught five passes for 75 yards. Earlier in the year, he made 11 receptions against Northern Arizona and 12 against BYU. He also ran the ball six times against the Ducks. So, don’t be surprised to see an end around or reverse happen.
While senior Tayvian Cunningham starts at X receiver, don’t be surprised to see sophomore Boobie Curry to get a lot of targets tonight. Against Oregon, he had the second most receptions on the team with four.
Redshirt junior BJ Casteel will start at the Z receiver spot. Casteel made one catch against the Ducks for 11 yards.
McCloud’s lone touchdown last weekend was thrown to his tight end (sound familiar?) and senior Bryce Wolma will start there. So far, Wolma has only made five catches for the Cats, but I expect him to get more targets tonight as Fisch and Jimmy Dougherty continue to develop the offense.
Arizona is still getting their running game underneath them. To date, they are averaging just 110 yards rushing per game. Much of this is probably attributable to the fact that the running backs are very young.
Sophomore Michael Wiley will likely get the start and he’ll share duties with sophomore Drake Anderson. Anderson leads the team in rushing with 182 yards through four games while Wiley has just 132 yards total.
To some extent, that doesn’t make sense, given that the offensive line is filled with four upperclassmen as starters.
The weakest spot on the offensive line for Arizona might be at left tackle. That’s where sophomore Jordan Morgan will start. Morgan has started just four games prior to this season and he’s only played in two so far this year. So, his lack of experience may be one of the reasons why Arizona isn’t running the ball better.
The rest of the line has a lot of experience. Junior Donovan Laie should get the start at guard tonight. Laie has a lot of experience at both guard and tackle, having started 29 games coming into this season. Redshirt senior Josh McCauley has anchored the Wildcats at center since winning the starting center job as a walk-on in 2018.
The right side of the line is filled with two JC transfers. Josh Donovan is the starting right guard and he is a redshirt junior who transferred to Arizona in 2018 with 19 games of JUCO experience. He’s played in eight games over the last two seasons for the Wildcats. Meanwhile, the right tackle will be Paiton Fears who transferred to Arizona in 2019. Fears has started 12 games for the Wildcats.
Don’t look for this team to run the ball that much. Instead, they will attack the Bruins through the air and look to make it hurt as much as Jayden Daniels did last week. If UCLA lines up the cornerbacks off the ball and doesn’t apply much pressure to McCloud, it will be another long night for Bruin fans.