UCLA Football vs Memphis: 3 keys to victory


UCLA Football travels to the Liberty Bowl for their first road game of 2017. Standing in their way is a very talented and experienced Memphis team. Here is what UCLA must do to win this trap game and start the season with a 3-0 record.

UCLA Football is now 2-0 on the season and it is no great mystery how they got here. They have ridden an impressive offense. The Bruins average 50.5 points per game largely on the strength of Josh Rosen’s right arm. After two games, Rosen has completed 68% of his passes and is averaging 410 yards per contest.

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If the game against Hawaii was any indication, UCLA Football’s coaching staff have realized what they have in Rosen. Gone were the attempts to force a running game that has lain dormant for the better part of a year. Instead, the Bruins threw the ball using the pass to set up the run. The result was that UCLA eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in a long time.

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It wasn’t all rosy for UCLA Football though. The Bruins lost linebacker Kenny Young, and safeties Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett to injuries. The hit that knocked Young out of the game was the picture perfect definition of targeting but somehow the Pac-12 officials missed the call. To make matters worse, the officials then ejected UCLA’s inside linebacker Josh Woods for targeting on what was a borderline play.

All of this adds up to some uncertainty heading into the Memphis game. Without Young, Pickett or Wadood, UCLA’s defense loses a lot of experience. In addition, Woods has to miss the first half because of targeting ejection. UCLA Football must overcome all of these obstacles and focus on these keys to win.

1. Start quickly

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The game against Memphis has the potential to be a stumbling block for UCLA Football. It is the first game on the road and kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. With Stanford also waiting in the wings, it would be understandable to overlook the boys from Tennessee. That would be a mistake. The Tigers went 8-5 in 2016 and have a lot of talent and experience.

Quarterback Riley Ferguson threw for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns, and wide receiver Anthony Miller set a school record for receiving yards with 1434 yards in 2016. Additionally, four out of five of their offensive linemen and four running backs returned. To avoid the trap, the Bruins must start quickly to gain and keep control.

2. Stop the run

This is the third article I’ve written about UCLA Football’s keys to victory. All of them have had a reference to stopping the run. UCLA Football won their first two games but are still looking for a complete game against the run. Texas A&M rushed for 382 yards and Hawaii racked up 281 yards. Upon closer examination, the game against Hawaii wasn’t as bad.

With the potential absence of four key defenders however, UCLA faces an uphill battle. Memphis rushed for 319 yards in their first game and had an extra week to prepare for this matchup. Their coaches will have seen the tape and will almost certainly be looking to run the ball. UCLA Football need to find a way to control the ground game one way or another.

3. Let Josh Rosen cook

Rosen is the current face of UCLA Football. In most of UCLA’s games this season, he will be the most talented player on the field. His numbers have been ridiculous to this point and he could still get better. Here’s one more ridiculous stat to chew on; Rosen has thrown nine touchdowns on the season and he is yet to throw an interception. Rosen against the Tigers’ secondary is a mismatch and if the offensive line can keep him upright, advantage UCLA.

Next: Know your opponent: The Memphis Tigers

The Bruins take on the Tigers Saturday at 9:00 a.m. PT at the Liberty Bowl.