Know Your Opponent: UCLA Football vs. Arizona 2017

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TUCSON, AZ – SEPTEMBER 02: Defensive lineman Larry Tharpe Jr.
TUCSON, AZ – SEPTEMBER 02: Defensive lineman Larry Tharpe Jr. /

 Arizona’s Defense

A popular talking point throughout last season, and all of this one as well, has been the poor play of UCLA’s offensive line. Elements of this are reflected in UCLA’s less than ideal rushing numbers. Through five games, they average just 115 yards per game, third lowers in the Pac-12.

However, this can also be attribute to the fact that the Bruins have had a tough time establishing a primary running back. No UCLA rusher has over 50 attempts, with Soso Jamabo leading the way with 50.

Despite appearing otherwise, Josh Rosen doesn’t get sacked all that often. In the first five games, UCLA’s offensive line has allowed fives sacks, good for just under two per game. True, two sacks a game isn’t ideal, but it’s tied for 57th in the nation, so they are hardly in last place.

This is relevant because, Arizona’s defense isn’t incredibly strong at getting to the quarterback. They have 10 sacks in five games for exactly two per match, with Tony Fields leading the way with three.

Rosen with time is a very dangerous thing, and he should have a fair share of it throughout the match. When trying to find an open target, he will be going against a Wildcats pass defense that allows 256 yards per game through the air. However, Arizona only allows an average of one touchdown pass per game, and has recorded five interceptions in five games, making the likelihood of Rosen tossing one more likely.

Jamabo has been given the lion share of the carries amongst the running back, and if there was a time for him to establish himself as UCLA’s permanent primary back, it would be against Arizona. They allow 154 rushing yards per game, and have allowed nine touchdowns on the ground.

The Wildcats do have players at all different levels of the defense who can blow up plays in the backfield. The linebacker dup of Fields and Colin Schooler, Kylan Wilborn at defensive end, and Scottie Young Jr. at the safety position, all have three tackles for a loss, so UCLA’s offensive line has to be ready for blitz packages that take advantage of the ballhawks Arizona has.

Punting against the Wildcats is always a gamble, as return specialist Shun Brown has the potential to take any punt back to the house. He is tied for second in the nation with two punt return touchdowns, and averages 23.5 yards per return attempt.