UCLA hosts Arizona State Saturday at the Rose Bowl at 430pm PST on FOX. Here are the Bruin’s Keys to Victory when they face the Sun Devils this Saturday night.
If the Sun Devils do send Bercovici exploring upfield on his feet, the Bruins stand a good chance to knock him out of the game like they did Anu Solomon last week, but expect ASU to test the Bruin defensive schemes in one way or another using a combination of the very talented Demario Richard (2nd in the Pac-12 in All-Purpose Yards), Kalen Ballage (a big back that recently recovered from mono), and the multi-talented DJ Foster.
Mossi Johnson at Safety? Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
2. Redefine Defensive Roles – After the loss of Fabian Moreau and Myles Jack (which followed the loss of Eddie Vanderdoes), the Bruins spent a good chunk of the Arizona game experimenting with personnel combinations. Ish Adams at corner or nickel? Jayon Brown in the hybrid backer/nickel spot? (at least till he got hurt). Where to play Savaiinaea, Wallace, Judge, Orjioke? Ish or Fuller on punt and kick returns? Mossi Johnson on a safety blitz? … maybe throw that one out.
All the attriton have made it necessary for the Bruin defense to be seriously reshuffled and also forced Jim Mora and Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley to adjust their approach to remainder of the 2015 season. The sooner they find stability and define roles, the more likely it will be that the Bruin defense can recover from the loss of so many talented players. They are doing a great job so far (UCLA has held every opponent to well below their average point total), but Stanford, Cal, Utah and USC are all challenges looming on the horizon.