UCLA Offense Vs. UNLV Defense
We clearly do not know how UCLA’s new power-based offense will do against Texas A&M the week before, but no matter what, the Bruins should be able to fine tune it against the Rebels.
As far as the running game goes, the Bruins should have a field day with the Rebel front line that only returns two players. Unless the younger Rebels can develop and step up in time, it looks like UNLV could once again be weak with their run defense that gave up 217.5 ypg last year.
The interesting part of this game will be the passing game of UCLA. Sophomore QB Josh Rosen should be a lot more confident in his second go-round, even though he has questions with the receiving corp that loses their top three targets: Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte and Jordan Payton.
UNLV has a decent pass defense, but if it is anything like what the Bruins saw last year, Rosen could have one epic passing day. Returning will be the likes of Darren Andrews, Stephen Johnson III, Kenneth Walker, Mossi Johnson and Eldridge Massington, as well as adding Ishmael Adams, Damian Aloway and Theo Howard who the Rebel secondary are going to have a hard time keeping the Bruins in check.
UCLA Defense Vs. UNLV Offense
UNLV returning starting RB Keith Whitely will not be playing because of a suspension, though the Rebels have a good #2 in Lexington Thomas. They will be running behind an O-line that returns three starters, including Will Kreitler who could be the best center in the Mountain West.
UNLV lost a few key players in the passing game but have a incredible tandem of Devonte Boyd and Kendal Keys. The question here is how will the transition to a new quarterback be for the offense.
The assumed starter is Johnny Stanton, who has a good arm who looks like he could mesh with his receivers sooner than later, but he is seriously going to be tested against the Bruin’s secondary.
UCLA is returning a lot of great talent with their defensive backs who were tops in the Pac-12 last season in pass defense. I hate to say it, but if UNLV has any chance, it is on the ground and that is the part of the game I am interested in seeing.
UCLA’s run defense was atrocious last season, so to help heal that pain, they are switching to a 4-3. Now there is no doubt the Bruins will hold the line, but how? They may limit touchdowns, but if UNLV gets 250-300 yards, that is not a good sign. UCLA, who returns four linemen, Eddie Vanderdoes, Eli Ankou, Takkarist McKinley and Deon Hollins, should be able to hold them between 100-150. If they make the necessary improvements they need to, I would not be surprised if they hold the Rebels to under 100 yards.
Next: Final Analysis and Prediction