Perhaps the least sexiest aspect of this Arizona Wildcats squad is their defense. Not just one particular aspect either, but all of it.
Good thing UCLA has the 12th-best offense in terms of yards per game, right?
That’s how this game will be won, too, for these Bruins. They’re going to have to rack up the yards and the points to come out of Pasadena with a monstrous win over No. 24 Arizona.
That won’t be hard, though: The Wildcats allow a disastrous, bottom-dwelling 35.6 points a game and, most egregiously, allowed Stanford 54 points; a Stanford team, mind you, that has only scored over 30 points in a game just once against Duke. Meanwhile, these ‘Cats are also in for a hellish night, considering the Bruins average 503 yards a contest on offense while the Arizona Wildcats allow a disgusting 530 yards a game from opposing offenses.
But where, exactly, is this Arizona defense struggling? At first glance, you’d think that the near-150 yards a game they allow on the ground was indicative of a terrible defensive front; the ‘Cats are 89th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game and tend to get run over quite a bit.
It gets worse, though, for Arizona. That pass defense is listless, allowing an incredible 348 passing yards a game, making them the third-worst pass defense in the nation in terms of yards. Teams seem to understand this, though, since they throw 47 times a contest (and the “but that’s ’cause their opponents have to play catch-up!” excuse doesn’t apply here). Of course, this sorry excuse for a pass defense is likely due to their inability to get any sort of pressure on the opposing quarterback, earning a lowly 3.29 percent sack rate, simplified by telling you that this team only gets 1.6 sacks a contest on the opposing quarterback.
To add to all their misery, they also seem to give up the big play more often than not: How else can you explain that, despite allowing a million yards and points offensively, they have a middling (but not the worst) redzone scoring percentage? Indeed, they allow a 98th-”best” 6.1 yards per play, and we’re sure that a runner capable of big plays such as Johnathan Franklin won’t have a ton of trouble tearing up a defense that allows so many yards a snap.
All this, of course, is aided by the fact that the Wildcats are the third-most penalized team in the nation the past three games of the season, earning 7.6 flags a game. UCLA fans shouldn’t be bragging, though, since the Bruins commit their fair share of stupidity, averaging the 7th-most penalties in the country.
These penalty problems don’t bode well for an Arizona defense that will have to play some defense in order to beat an at-times explosive UCLA team.
Added to the mix, UCLA should have an incredible showing offensively. The Bruins did a number on an Arizona State defense that was tops in the nation in various categories (albeit these rankings were a tad much considering their competition) and could do much more to a flighty Wildcat defense.