UCLA Football: Position battle breakdown against San Diego State

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UCLA Football

UCLA Bruins wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant (1) catches the ball and runs for a touchdown in the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After a big season-opening win over Coastal Carolina, UCLA football heads to San Diego State for their first road test of the young season. How do the Bruins and Aztecs stack up?

Let’s first take a look at the offensive position battles between the Bruins and the Aztecs in this upcoming week two match-up.

Quarterback: Tie

This position battle is a question of potential versus experience. If you want to make an argument either way here, you wouldn’t be too far off-base.

For UCLA football, there is obviously Dante Moore. The freshman was tremendous in his first game action, throwing for two touchdowns and helping the Bruins pull away from Coastal Carolina. One game, however, is not a proven commodity.

Jalen Mayfield at San Diego State, on the other hand, is on a clear upward trajectory. This is his third season as an Aztec, and he’s gotten better every season. He’s been great through two games, going 31-of-47 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He’s added 166 rushing yards on 17 carries for another two scores.

If San Diego State is going to keep this one close, it will undoubtedly be due to their dual-threat, mistake-free quarterback.

Running Back: UCLA

This is another comparison where there are reasons to go each way. Both units have been effective early in the season, but the Bruins have to edge the edge here for one key factor: Versatility.

UCLA’s backs have been more of a threat when it comes to catching the ball out the backfield in this young year. Carson Steele had four catches for 20 yards and a touchdown last week, and Carsen Ryan had a 21-yard touchdown reception as well.

The Aztec backs have caught the ball well statistically, but much of those numbers were racked up against FCS Idaho State. The story wasn’t the same against Ohio.

Receiver: UCLA

The Aztecs have a solid group of pass catchers, but no one in that receiver room matches the electricity of J. Michael Sturdivant. Last week against Coastal Carolina, he was responsible for putting the game away with his 62-yard touchdown, which brought him to five receptions for 136 yards on the day.

The numbers for the rest of the Bruins’ receiving corps don’t stand out, but that has more to do with the up-and-down quarterback play in the opening week that only resulted in 17 completions. Guys like Kyle Ford, Logan Loya, and Ryan Cragun made the most of their opportunities, combining for 86 yards on six catches, a rate of 14.3 yards per catch.

As a team last week, SDSU averaged 9.1 yards per catch and 5.8 yards per attempt.

Offensive Line: Tie

Against Coastal Carolina, UCLA allowed just a single sack. San Diego State has allowed two sacks in two games. The UCLA running game has averaged 4.9 yards per carry, while San Diego State is at 5.8 yards. Considering the Aztecs had a stat-inflating game against an FCS opponent, that extra yard doesn’t mean all that much in terms of winning this battle.

Both lines have done their jobs, and both lines have played fairly mistake-free football.

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