After two not-exactly-difficult contests against Virginia and UNLV, the UCLA Football team is getting ready to meet their first challenge of the season… the BYU Cougars.
First off, sorry Virginia, no disrespect, but we all knew the Bruins had your number (I was reeeeeeally pulling for all of you against Notre Dame). The Bruins against the UNLV Rebels was expected to be a blowout, so last Saturday in Vegas seemed more like practice for UCLA Football.
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Now comes the first hurdle. BYU.
I am not sure if this team is surprising or scary or both. They looked good before quarterback Taysom Hill went down, but now with “true freshman” Tanner Mangum (which could be the best name in college football) BYU looks even better.
I understand that BYU needed 2 Hail Mary’s to help claim victories in their first two games, but they also put up two very good fights against Nebraska and then-#20 Boise State. Now look, believe what you want in regards to BYU playing dirty (*cough*cough*tape don’t lie*cough*cough) but this is a tough, physical team.
Overall, their total defense ranks 84th in the country, giving up 403.0 ypg. Though the pass defense needs work (they give up 308 yards per game), the run defense is pretty exceptional. At 25th in the nation with 95.0 rushing yards allowed, the Cougars have proven to be a threat.
Oct 3, 2014; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Bronson Kaufusi (90) reacts to the snap of the ball during the second half against the Utah State Aggies at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Utah State won 35-20. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
So what does that mean? They are coming after freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. In turn, that means the Bruin offensive line is going to be in for one physical game.
Seeing as two Bruin offensive linemen got injured last week, Jake Brendel (foot) and Tevita Halalilo (ankle), it seems UCLA could have a bit of trouble upfront. Good news though, Brendel is expected to play. Bad news, Halalilo is down for the season. Good news, the UCLA running game is pretty awesome as well.
Switching sides, we have another battle as the Bruin defense will be licking their chops against the BYU offense. Not to say the Cougar offense is a non-threat, but as my colleague Jake Merrifield stated in the latest episode of the What’s Bruin Show, “BYU has three plays: 70-yard pass, 2-yard gain and 4-yard loss.”
Although Jake was exaggerating a bit, the BYU offense does not seem too complicated, but it is a work in progress, especially with a quarterback that was not pegged to be starting two weeks ago.
Yes, there is a pattern with BYU and Hail Mary’s, but if the Bruins play their game and take them out early, there will be no need for a last second Cougar effort.
That must look very appetizing for Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley, Myles Jack and the gang. All I am saying is that if the Cougar receivers and running backs are not looking where the are going, they are going to get Jack’d. Or Kenny Young‘d. Or Kenny Clark‘d. Or Takkarist McKinley‘d. And on and on.
Yes, there is a pattern with BYU and Hail Mary’s, but if the Bruins play their game and take them out early, there will be no need for a last second Cougar effort. But this is college football, expect everything.
The bottom line is that this is not a UNLV-given, this is the real deal. UCLA Football is in for a battle and though I believe he Bruins will win, it will not be without taking several hits.