Last Saturday, UCLA blew a huge opportunity to solidify themselves as the team everyone hoped they would be. Had the Bruins beaten Cal in Berkeley, it would’ve been the sign of a legitimate turn in UCLA’s football program.
Of course, that didn’t happen. Despite California boasting one of the least effective offenses in the Pac-12 conference, the Bruins allowed Berkeley to hang nearly 50 points on a defense that hadn’t allowed more than 30 and that, more often than not, held their teams to under 20.
UCLA faces a similar situation against Utah, except the circumstances seem to be more favorable.
First, UCLA is at home. If you have watched UCLA football over the past few years, you’d know that this Bruin team tends to vastly underachieve on the road and frustratingly overachieve at home. 2011 was no different, when UCLA went 5-1 at home but 1-7 on the road. And secondly, Utah’s defense has proven to be entirely incompetent all season long. The Utes are bottom-20 in the nation in passing and rushing yards and are 89th in points per game (a ranking that might be lower when considering a good chunk of their touchdowns were scored by the defense).
Meanwhile, Ute fans have become fed up with Jon Hays, who doesn’t have that terrible of a line — 59 percent completion, six touchdowns and two interceptions — but looks far and away like one of the worst, if not the worst quarterback in the Pac-12.
And to add insult to injury, Utah’s offensive line has been completely useless. Last season, they were just good enough to let running back John White do the Utes’ heavy lifting offensively. This season? White has ran for just 300 yards and averaged under four yards per carry.
So it should seem easy to stifle a Utah offense that’s probably unlikely to succeed at the high school level, right?
It should be, except for the fact that this UCLA team is seemingly no different than years past, meaning this will be a close game. If Utah head honcho Kyle Wittingham is as smart of a coach as everyone thinks he is — I tend to be of this opinion –then he shouldn’t have a problem doing what Tedford did, which includes setting up short routes, 3-step-max dropbacks and throwing the ball downfield as often as possible to expose this UCLA secondary.
Of course, UCLA isn’t hopeless here, and at the whim of Wittingham’s game-planning.
No, Jim Mora has the option of turning elsewhere for talent at the cornerback position or he has the option of helping Lou Spanos come up with creative schemes to offset the Bruins’ weaknesses in the secondary.
No one knows the answer to this question, though. No one knows if UCLA can figure out a way to stop an offense as bad as Utah’s has been.
Only Jim Mora and the Bruins know, and we’re not too sure if the answer is what we want to hear.