Arizona vs. UCLA: Bruins defense looks to stop surging Wildcats

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

UCLA may have the best group of linebackers in the country, but what else is there for the Bruins?

Last year:  The Arizona Wildcats traveled to Pasadena after an enormous win over then No. 9 USC.  There they were met by an unimpressed UCLA Bruins team who smacked the Wildcats with a 66-10 beatdown.  Those 66 points were the most that Arizona had given up since 1949 when Michigan State put 75 on the Cats.

B.J. Denker got some playing time in that game after Matt Scott left with one of possibly several concussions he suffered last year.  Denker ended up going 2-for-5 for 12 yards, and Ka'Deem Carey picked up the lone Wildcat touchdown midway through the third quarter.

Arizona's offense was held to just 257 total yards in that game.  That was also the last time Ka'Deem rushed for fewer than 100 yards (54), and the only game in his last 16 games that he hasn't had at least 115 yards on the ground.

So how do they get around the UCLA defense this time around?

The Bruins' Anthony Barr is an absolute beast.  One of the top defensive players in the country, Barr has picked up 13 tackles for loss (7th most in the country) and six sacks this season.  The former RB/WR turned linebacker has been extremely impressive in his transition to defense.

"I'm sure he's very comfortable," said Rich Rodriguez.  "When you're as good of an athlete as he is, I'm sure in a week he could move back to offense.  You're talking about a first-rounder here, you can put him on either side of the ball."

DE Keenan Graham is another guy that Denker and the offensive line will have to deal with on a regular basis on Saturday.  Graham has picked up five sacks this year, and combined with Cassius Marsh, the D-line gets a lot of pressure on the quarterback, making it important for the Arizona O-line to play better than the Cal game.

You can also listen to Ka'Deem Carey preview the UCLA defense and more right here courtesy of SiriusXM

Offense

UCLA's offense is led by sophomore QB Brett Hundley, son of former Wildcat RB Brett Hundley.  Hundley's yet another mobile quarterback that Arizona faces this year, having picked up 431 rushing yards in 2013.

"Hundley's just a whole lot bigger (than Washington's Keith Price)," said Rich Rodriguez.  "You're talking about a guy with great size, and an intelligent runner.  There's no question the unscheduled play, a play that breaks down, he's very dangerous."

Hundley has two main targets that he goes to in Shaquelle Evans and Devin Fuller.  Currently the Bruins are ranked 37th in the country in passing yards per game, or 7th in the Pac-12.

Their rushing game is not too far behind at 40th in the country.  Leading rusher Jordan James missed three games due to an ankle injury suffered against Utah, but returned with limited action against Colorado last week.  James was the fifth-best rusher in the nation through the first three games, averaging 143 yards/game.

By the Numbers

How Arizona and UCLA match up numbers-wise

Total offense

Arizona - 463.1 yards per game - 33rd in the nation

UCLA - 462 ypg - 37th

Passing offense

Arizona - 187.8 ypg - 113th

UCLA - 268.4 ypg - 37th

Rushing offense

Arizona - 275.4 ypg - 12th

UCLA - 193.6 ypg - 40th

Scoring offense

Arizona - 35.9 ppg - 33rd

UCLA - 37.3 ppg - 25th

Scoring defense

Arizona - 20.9 ppg - 26th

UCLA - 22.5 ppg - 36th

Passing defense

Arizona - 212.3 ypg - 29th

UCLA - 217.3 ypg - 39th

Rushing defense

Arizona - 160.6 ypg - 62nd

UCLA - 169.5 ypg - 72nd

Total defense

Arizona - 372.9 ypg - 37th

UCLA - 386.8 ypg - 55th

Jim Mora

Mora is in his second year at UCLA, having picked up a 15-7 record in his first year and a half.  By comparison, RichRod is 14-7 in the same amount of time at Arizona.

UCLA is playing a lot of freshmen, but many of their playmakers were recruited by Rick Neuheisel, now of Pac-12 Networks and other things.  This is Mora's first go-around as a head coach in the college game, and he's definitely succeeding.  He was previously the head man for the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 and the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-06.

Mora's background is in defense, spending ten years as a secondary coach with three different teams in the NFL, and five years as the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers.  He showed that he knows how to scheme for a RichRod offense last year, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of packages he and the rest of the Bruins staff come up with this year.

UA-UCLA All-Time Series

The Bruins lead the overall series with a record of 20-15-2, but before last year, Arizona had won five straight meetings.  In Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats are 9-8 all-time against UCLA, and are 11-8 overall in Tucson.

The two schools have played each other every year since 2002.  Arizona has gone 6-5 in those games.

The first meeting happened on November 19th, 1927, in Tucson.  Arizona was victorious that day by a score of 16-13.  The head coaches for that game were Pop McKale for Arizona facing off against William Spaulding.  So that's kind of cool.  It was also UCLA's first loss that year to drop them to 6-1-1 for the season.  They lost their next game to Drake to finish the year 6-2-1.  Arizona finished that season with a loss as well, and a final record of 4-2-1.

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