The lowest point of the season for these UCLA Bruins was a horrifying loss to an Arizona squad that was 1-5 up to that point. Not only did the team get embarrassed 48-12, but this happened:
For Arizona, it was a refreshing win after a rough five-game losing streak. For UCLA, it was one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of the football program. That moment likely defined Rick Neuheisel’s tenure as UCLA football coach and it damn near sealed his fate (how he wasn’t fired soon after, I have no idea).
Things should change, though, with Jim Mora implementing more discipline, as he’s continuously promised us. The dude was brought here to make this squad as bad-ass as it can be, so that these situations — and likely games like this, specifically — would be eliminated.
That’s the hope, at least.
Arizona Offense vs. UCLA Defense
The Arizona offense is going to get a major upgrade, with ‘Zona’s hiring of new head honcho Rich Rodriguez, a coach that most Bruins fans would have killed for.
Because the dude is an offensive genius. If you began typing “Rich Rodriguez offense” one of the suggestions you get in Google is “Rich Rodriguez offense genius.” The dude’s fast-paced offense apparently laid the framework for dynamic offenses such as the current offense employed by the Oregon Ducks (where all players act as if they’re not smoking pot up there).
So it’ll be tough for the UCLA defense if the offensive system is employed correctly. With Matt Scott — a dual-threat QB who hasn’t played football in a year and is in his final year of eligibility — at the helm, you’d imagine that the Arizona offense becomes versatile as hell, although through three football season, Matt Scott hasn’t exactly proved himself (he’s thrown six touchdown passes his entire career). Another red flag for Arizona is the running back position, where the top two running backs couldn’t accumulate 1000 yards on the ground in 2011.
The offense has a foundation to lean on, though, and that’s the offensive line that Rich Rodriguez has inherited. Although last season, the unit was incredibly inexperienced, a year of growth has to help (or so you’d think), and cohesion for a frontline is always key to the line’s success.
Basically, we know the scheme that Rodriguez will employ, but we have no idea if the personnel he has will be good enough to employ it.
If it’s employed correctly and Arizona learns quickly, UCLA could be screwed. The likelihood that it happens, though, isn’t very good, not with things changing dramatically as they would. UCLA’s secondary may be thin, but Matt Scott may not have the talent necessary to exploit that.
Arizona Defense vs. UCLA Offense
The Arizona defense is pretty damn awful. The unit allowed 35 points a game last season, and while that’s somewhat excusable against squads like Oregon, South Cal, Oklahoma State and Stanford, recording just ten sacks all season is downright laughable. (And we shouldn’t laugh too hard; we only recorded 14 ourselves.) All that, plus the ‘Zona defense allowed 460.5 yards in total offense in 2011 to go along with 4.3 touchdowns allowed per game.
And the biggest hole is that defensive line, porous as hell. That secondary is returning some nice starters, but if UCLA wants to obliterate Arizona like it should — for vengeance, if nothing else — then they should figure to use Johnathan Franklin as much as they can to exploit every single Wildcat weakness.
Prediction: UCLA 133, Arizona 1
OK, so that’s not my real prediction. I’m just mad because Arizona murdered us last season.
Here’s my real prediction: UCLA 38, Arizona 27. I don’t know how good that Arizona offense will be, but I know that defense can’t get much better. Arizona’s seeing far too much transition to beat UCLA this season, which is staying pretty static, coaching staff be damned.