This Saturday the UCLA Football team takes on the Stanford Cardinal and will try to break a nine-game losing streak. Here are 3 questions for the Bruins entering the game.
By now we all know the stats when it comes to the UCLA Football team playing Stanford. Nine losses in a row. Losing by an average of 17 points. Scoring less than 20 points in 7 out of the 9 games.
But the streak has to end sometime and with the Bruins putting up huge offensive numbers, this Saturday may be as good a time as any. Let’s take a look at a few factors the Bruins will deal with against Stanford in this week’s edition of “3 Questions”.
1. Will the Bruins get any help back on defense?
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Last week against Memphis, the Bruins were missing key players on the defensive side and it showed. Not only did they give up whopping 48 points but even worse was the 560 total yards Memphis racked up.
Some of this could be blamed on the fact that UCLA was missing Jaleel Wadood, Boss Tagaloa, and Kenny Young to name a few. To compound the problem, Jaelan Phillips went out with a twisted ankle in the second half. But honestly, the Bruins’ defense hasn’t been too good anyways, giving up just over 515 yards per game.
Wadood should be back this week to help solidify the secondary. If Tagaloa and Young also return, it will give the Bruins’ defense some of their main guys back. This will take some pressure off the freshman and less experienced players that had to fill in against Memphis.
More importantly, the added players will give them the depth that the Bruins were lacking last week.
2. Have the Bruins finally found a running back to stick with?
I’ve been a proponent of UCLA just picking a running back and sticking with him until he gets injured or starts fumbling the ball on every other touch. The running back by committee hasn’t worked and it doesn’t give any single back the chance to get a feel for the game.
None of the Bruins’ backs have set themselves apart this year. Why not stick with one and Bolu is as good as any for me.
3. Should the Bruins look to control the ball?
One reason for San Diego State’s success was ball control. They were able to keep the ball for over 41 minutes versus Stanford’s 18 minutes. In their loss to USC, Stanford also lost the battle of possession 34 minutes to 25.
So the easy answer is the Bruins should just control the ball. Obviously, that’s much easier said than done, especially for a team like UCLA who can’t run the ball effectively. But perhaps that’s not the recipe for the Bruins’ success.
In their two victories this season, the Bruins had the ball for just 23 minutes each game. Against Hawaii, Josh Rosen and Co. didn’t have a scoring drive longer than five minutes and when they played Texas A&M, they were either going three and out or scoring as quickly as possible.
Even though UCLA has shown they can win without winning the time of possession, controlling the clock against Stanford might be an option for Coach Mora this week. Giving the Bruins’ infirmed defense a break after getting pounded by the Cardinal (not a strong as past years but still) power football each series will be beneficial. Especially when the fourth quarter comes around and the defense could be asked to make a big play.