Bearcats Rushing vs. UCLA Defense
Ultimately, the success of the Bearcats rushing attack will come down to their offensive line, which as I mentioned in Part 1 only returns one player who started all 13 games in 2018. If the line can form some cohesion by gametime on August 29th, expect Luke Fickell to rely heavily on the rushing attack all game long.
But the Cincinnati line will be facing a formidable defensive line which returns every starter. 363-pound nose tackle Atonio Mafi will be flanked by 280-pound Osa Odighizuwa and 336-pound Otito Ogbonnia, all of whom are, per Spring and Fall camp reports, in excellent shape and far more advanced technically than they were in 2018. UCLA will rely on them to anchor their defense, allowing their linebackers to make plays, under the blanket of their talented and deep defensive backfield.
Cincinnati will try to keep the ball away from the Bruins offense, which they must know will only be improved from their meeting in 2018 (indeed it would be hard to be worse), and Fickell and company must surely know Chip Kelly remains one of the finest offensive minds in football. With Warren and company leading the rushing attack, Fickell will then attempt to get Ridder comfortable, keeping the UCLA defense on its heels struggling to contain both the run and successful pass. Suffice to say if UCLA allows Warren to repeat his 2018 performance, keeping the UCLA offense off the field, it will have a difficult time escaping with a win.
If Mafi and his cohort can plug running lanes and give the Bruins linebackers freedom to make plays, UCLA can put far more pressure on Ridder than he would prefer, and the Bruins can rely on their secondary to contain any deep pass attempts. In the end, the goal of the UCLA defense, as it likely will be all season, will be to contain opposing offenses and get the Bruin offense the ball back, allowing Chip to utilize his strengths as a playcaller.