#9 UCLA visits #13 Stanford this saturday for a battle of Pac-12 Conference powerhouses. After a deflating loss against Utah, the Cardinal will try to gather themselves and gain back what momentum they had going- but it wont be easy. By looking at one of the main ways Utah pulled off the upset, we find the potential Achilles heel of this Cardinal team. Physicality. While the Stanford front seven was considered by many to be the be the toughest in the nation, they were outmuscled by a sparked Utah squad. The road forks here for the Cardinal, so let’s check out the”Pro- Cardinal” path, and the path that favors UCLA.
After being bested at “their own game”, the Cardinal could come out deflated and uninterested – but it’s doubtful that head coach David Shaw would let this happen. Going forward, a lack of intensity could result in a major deficit early on; especially to the high flying, fight not flight UCLA offense. Another concern, that’s flame has been slightly doused by a 55-17 beat down of Washington, is that the Stanford offense is simply too conservative. Conservative offense means that the defense can play how they want. As a Cardinal wideout, it wouldn’t be ideal to be covered by one of UCLA’s outstanding young DBs, and it wont be easy for quarterback Kevin Hogan to get many accurate passes off with OLBs Miles Jack and Anthony Barr in his face. If the secondary plays like it did against Utah, and Stanford’s offense does the same, the Bruins are going to have some fun.
The more likely, better for fans, exciting circumstance is that the men up north aren’t to happy with their loss to Utah and, as a result, come out fired up. Why is this better for fans? Well, quite simply, it makes for a better game. A stingy Stanford defense against a highflying Bruin offense, UCLA dialing up pressure as Stanford tries to hold them back, and the Cardinal’s big men creating adversity for Brett Hundley to wade through. Who wouldn’t want to see that? With the PAC-12′s most lucrative hires in recent years, David Shaw and Jim Mora, poised to clash, it’ll be an exciting afternoon in The Bay Area.
Kickoff is set for 12:30 on Saturday, and you can catch it all on ABC and ESP2.