For those thinking that BYU will have a third straight chance to win a game on a Hail Mary, do not know the UCLA Football team.
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We are taught to look for patterns in life to help solve certain problems. The purpose is to try and find out which reoccurring behaviors will happen next in order to give us some understanding about a subject. For UCLA Football, it is stopping the a third straight Hail Mary from BYU.
As football fans knows, Hail Mary plays are not very common, but it would be a mistake for UCLA to ignore the fact that the BYU Cougars have in fact connected on two of these passes in consecutive weeks which have directly led to victories.
For UCLA, they need to stop the Hail Mary from occurring before it can ever develop. How does one avoid this? Several reasons.
First, the Bruin defense needs to take care of the Cougar offense right from the start. The UCLA Football defense is the toughest BYU will have seen so far in this young season.
Sep 12, 2015; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum (12) throws the ball during the first quarter against the Boise State Broncos at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
What UCLA has to do early and often is get pressure on Cougar QB Tanner Mangum. He is BYU’s 22-year old true freshman that does not even have two full games under his belt, but already has two victories to his name.
The Bruin defense under new defensive coordinator Tom Bradley have been relatively conservative in their first two games so with UCLA Football on alert to Mangum’s talents, expect the defense to dial it up a notch with different coverages and blitz packages that will confuse the Cougars. Stop Mangum before he starts.
Secondly, on the offensive side, UCLA’s true freshman QB Josh Rosen has to have a more consistent game than last week at UNLV. Though he pulled it together in the second half (he went 22-for-42 overall), he needs to be a bit sharper with his accuracy and execution against the Cougar D.
The Bruin offense was decent in the first half at UNLV and improved in the second. If the Bruins can start strong and put up some points in the first half, putting some space in between them and the Cougars, then that will help them defend against a late BYU attack.
In essence, UCLA needs to not put themselves in a position to have a final BYU surprise. Which brings up the third point…
If by chance the Cougars do heave a 50+ yard pass in the waining moments of the game, the Bruins need to do what Nebraska and Boise State could not do. To flashback to last year, it is also what USC could not do to Arizona State… KNOCK DOWN THE BALL!
In all three instances, the defenses in these examples all looked to have flimsy pass coverage. Here is my advance (from the comfort of my home), send more players back, get a blitz or two to throw off Mangum and if the ball is actually thrown up with a prayer, get the hands up a bat that ball down.
Still, the Bruins need to avoid this situation as much as possible. Though BYU relying on a prayer for the third week in a row is near impossible, it is not improbable. What UCLA has to do is not fall into that trap. Start hard, start strong and Beat BYU!