On Saturday the UCLA Football team returns to the field to take on the Arizona Wildcats (3-2). Although the Bruins (3-2) had a bye week to prepare for UofA, they will have to do so without receiver Caleb Wilson and running back Nate Starks. With both players having season ending surgery, the Bruins will have to find a way to keep up with the high scoring Wildcats.
1. Can the Bruins stop a Khalil Tate led rushing attack?
And take over he did.
Khalil not only used his legs to run for 327 yards, an FBS record for a quarterback, but was also able to go 12 for 13 in the air for 154 yards. Even with an extra week to prepare, the Bruins’ 125th ranked rushing defense will have trouble stopping the athletic Tate.
Fortunately for UCLA, Tate has so far been the Wildcats’ only running threat. If they are able to keep a spy on him and limit his running, the Bruins may force Tate to turn to the air where he has a 52.2 career completion percentage.
But if Tate gets going, it could disrupt the entire Bruins’ defense. This could spell trouble and we could see the high scoring Wildcats score 50 points.
2. Who will replace Caleb Wilson?
With Caleb Wilson gone for the season after having foot surgery, the Bruins not only lose a sure-handed tight end but his 7.6 catches and almost 100 receiving yards a game.
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He had quickly become Josh Rosen’s second favorite target (Darren Andrews has 40 catches) and a trusted target on third downs.
The obvious choice to step in for Wilson would be Andrews.
The former Bishop Amat High School standout is leading UCLA both in receptions and receiving yards (553 yards). The problem now is without Wilson, the Arizona defense can double team Andrews, forcing Rosen to find another target.
Step in Austin Roberts. Even though he only has six catches this year, Roberts and Rosen should have a bit a chemistry. They have been playing and practicing together for three years.
Last year the six-foot-two, 230 pound Roberts showed that he is capable of catching balls downfield as his 17.4 yards per catch showed. A few 20 yard grabs by Roberts and the Wildcats’ defense will have to pull a safety over to his side of the field. This will give Andrews more room to get open and hopefully make a few catches.
3. Will Soso Jamabo continue to be the go-to running back?
Before the season, there was a handful of running backs that could have ended up being the number one back. But since running for 100 yards against Stanford, Soso Jamabo looks to have grabbed the primary running back position.
In the last game against Colorado, Jamabo once again led the Bruins in both carries (21) and rushing yards (70).
Now with the revolving door at running back (possibly) closed, getting a majority of the carries could be the consistency that Jamabo needs to finally live up to his five star hype.