UCLA Football Preview: Bruins Match Up Well Against Arizona Defense
With UCLA averaging about what Arizona is giving up, the Bruin offense should score plenty of points tonight.
The UCLA offense seems to match up well against the Arizona defense. That’s because the Wildcats are allowing an average of 192 yads on the ground while the Bruins are averaging 195 yards per game rushing. The passing game matches up well, too, with Arizona giving up an average of 172 yards per game and UCLA gaining an average of 234.4 yards per game.
Let’s look at the defensive personnel for U of A.
Arizona will start four defensive linemen.
Senior JB Brown will start at the anchor position while fellow senior Trevon Mason will start at defensive tackle. With this pair of upperclassmen starting, you’d expect that the Wildcats would be better at stopping the run, but they aren’t.
That maybe because of their youth and inexperience at nose where Kyon Barrs will start. But, even there, the sophomore has played in 16 games for Arizona. He also leads the team in tackles for loss with four.
At end, the Cats will have redshirt junior Jalen Harris, who is third on the team in tackles with 20.
Arizona will likely start three linebackers, though they will pull one linebacker out for a Viper in passing situations. The Viper is a hybrid linebacker/defensive back intended to help stop the pass.
The starting linebackers are all seniors. The Sam, or strong-side, linebacker will be Kenny Hebert, who has one of the team’s two interceptions this season. The Mike, or middle, linebacker will be Treshaun Hayward. Hayward is second on the team in tackles with 28. The only guy he trails is starting Will, or weak, linebacker Anthony Pandy, who leads the team with 29.
In passing situations, look for Christian Young to come in as the team’s Viper replacing one of the linebackers. Young is tied for fourth on the team with 19 tackles and he is tied for first in pass breakups with three.
The Wildcats will start a pair of sophomores at cornerback. Christian Roland-Wallace is the only Arizona cornerback to intercept a pass so far this season. Isaiah Rutherford transferred to Arizona this season after spending the past two seasons at Notre Dame.
The safeties will be sophomore Jaxen Turner and either Jaydin Young or Gunner Maldonado. Young and Maldonado are both freshmen. Of the three safeties, Maldonado has had the biggest impact for the Wildcats so far this season. He’s fourth on the team in tackles with 19 and he has two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Knowing that the Wildcats are giving up an average of about what UCLA is gaining on the ground each game, I fully expect Chip Kelly to stick to the ground for much of the game.
That said, I’m also expecting another big game from Kyle Philips who seems to make big plays offensively for the Bruins on a regular basis.
I expect UCLA to score enough points to win, but the big question marks will happen on the other side of the ball.