6-2 meets 6-2 this later tonight in Arizona as UCLA travels to take on the Wildcats. The Bruins, while happy with their rebounding effort against Colorado last weekend, need not be satisfied. The same goes for the Wildcats. With both teams at 3-2 in conference, yet to face PAC-12 South leader Arizona State (4-1 in conf.), and hoping for a trip to the PAC-12 Championship game, will most likely have to win out – and the first thing in their paths? Each other. For UCLA to beat Arizona, they will have to keep running back Ka’deem Carey from running wild. If UCLA wants to keep the Rose Bowl – now looking tougher after Stanford blasted Oregon for three and a half quarters – Myles Jack and Anthony Barr will, once again, be the ones to make it happen.
Barr and Jack will have to not just stop, but stuff the Wildcats run game. So there. Thats it. Easy as pie right? Wrong. It’s easy to sit back and say that the best linebacking core in the nation will do just that, but it will come through trickery drawn up by UCLA DC Lou Spanos. Nobody doubts that Barr and Jack can get into the backfield and disrupt the pass, the option, and even some runs, but when a back like Carey sees the Bruins flooding past his offensive line and gets past that flood, it isn’t easy to bring him down. UCLA is going to have to make Carey and QB B.J. Denker read the blitz when its not coming, prep for Jack and Barr when it is just one of them, and rely on their passing game – as they rank twelfth in the nation for rushing yards per game, yet fall to one-hundred and second when it comes to yards gained through the air.
The the ability of Barr, to track down the ball carrier during even the most deceptive of plays, will be big tonight – and his number is going to be called a lot. Then consider that while Barr and Jack are busy with Ka’deem Carey, it will be a great opportunity to see what guys like Ishmael Adams, who have flashed their brilliance, are really made of.
You can catch the game tonight at 7:30 on ESPN and watch how this all plays out.