#9 UCLA marches into Tucson to face the #16 Wildcats after losing two key players from the defense this week. Here is your Arizona Preview!
The Bruins enter this match-up with a lifetime record of 22-15-2 against the Wildcats. UCLA comes into the game at 3-0 and on a three game winning streak against Arizona.
Coach Jim Mora has never lost to the Wildcats and each game was won in weird fashion. In 2012, UCLA exorcised a 5 game losing streak with a 66-10 explosion at the Rose Bowl.
Myles Jack was unleashed (sigh) as a running back and gained over 150 yards on six carries to beat Arizona in Tucson in 2013, and the Bruins won an uncharacteristically defensive game 17-7 last year.
"Did You Know … this article is dedicated to Myles “Freaking” Jack. Less than a legend, but more than a man . . ."
The Cats are riding high on a 77-13 win over in-state cream puff Northern Arizona. The gaudy stats put up in that game shot the Cats to the top of the charts, and Arizona leads the Pac-12 in points per game (54) and has an impressive 321 yards per game rushing average (7th in the country).
Sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon has improved so far in his second season as a starter, and although he has not passed for a large amount of yardage (259 yards per game), he has already thrown for 10 touchdowns without an interception.
As mentioned above, Arizona has been exceptional on the ground, and the bulk of that work has fallen onto sophomore Nick Wilson (434 yards, 7 yards per carry and 5 touchdowns).
All of these stats have been earned against inferior opponents, and it will be interesting to see if the Wildcats can run the ball as effectively against the Bruins even with the loss of Myles Jack and Fabian Moreau this week.
The Bruins seem very vulnerable in the secondary with these losses, but still look to be stout against the run. The question will be if Arizona can take advantage with a fairly pedestrian passing game up to this point of the season.
"Did You Know … Myles Jack began his career and possibly ended his career by game winning interceptions against Utah teams; he picked off Travis Wilson to win his first Pac-12 game in 2012 and he caught the game clinching interception from Tanner Mangum last week . . ."
Nov 15, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Myles Jack (30) celebrates after the game against the Washington Huskies at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Will Scooby be there or won’t he? If Scooby plays, how effective can he be? This is the burning question that surrounds the game this weekend, because the Cats have struggled without All-World linebacker Scooby Wright in their first two games against UTSA and Nevada.
Even with Scooby, Arizona faces a tough task in stopping a UCLA running game that is operating at full capacity with Paul Perkins and company running behind the best UCLA offensive line in 15 years. The Wildcats 3-3-5 scheme and talent is not dissimilar to the BYU team the Bruins rushed for 296 yards and 7.8 yards per carry against.
With that being said, a fully operational Wright can gum up the works of any offense, and the odds of Josh Rosen‘s spine being separated from his body rise dramatically with Scooby patrolling Arizona’s defense.
If the WIldcats offense can force some more turnovers out of Rosen and confuse him in the same manner BYU did, then then they should be able to put the Arizona offense in good positions throughout the game.
If Rosen can keep his composure and manage the game like he did in the 2nd half last week, the Bruins should be able to dominate the game with their running attack with or with out Scooby.
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Coming into UCLA’s Pac-12 opener against Arizona, the first order of business for the Bruins will be getting the defensive lineup adjusted in light of the loss of both Fabian Moreau and Myles Jack to season ending injuries and the return of Ishamel Adams to the team after his brush with the law.
If the Bruins can play anywhere near the level that they have been at so far this season, they should have a good shot to beat the Wildcats in Tucson. If not, the UCLA offense may have a hard time keeping up. My bet is that the Bruins are able to rally and pull together a solid defensive effort against the Cats, and Josh Rosen bounces back with a steady game at quarterback.