The Arizona Wildcats are traveling to Pasadena for a showdown with the UCLA Bruins this week. After a heart breaking loss in overtime against Washington, UA looks to rebound against a shaky Bruins team.
2016 Record – 2-2 (0-1 Pac-12); at Texas A&M 24-31 (OT), vs. UNLV 42-21, at BYU 17-14, vs. Stanford 13-22
Key Offensive Players – Josh Rosen (QB), Soso Jamabo (RB), Darren Andrews (WR), Scott Quessenberry (C)
Key Defensive Players; Eddie Vanderdoes (DT), Fabian Moreau (CB), Kenny Young (LB), Takkarist McKinley (DE)
After allowing 52 points in their first two games, the Bruins have tightened up on defense by allowing only 36 (30 if you remove the scoop and score for Stanford at the end) in the subsequent two contests. Their offense is an opposite story as it appears to be regressing. They averaged 33 points per game through the first two and have averaged only 15 per game since.
UCLA will always attract talented recruits, but this year feels a little different than what we have seen in recent seasons. Yes, Josh Rosen is coming off a very impressive freshman campaign. However, their leading rusher (Paul Perkins) and top two receivers (WR Jordan Payton and TE Thomas Duarte) from last season are gone.
To put this missing production into perspective, the 2015 offense recorded a combined total of 6,057 rushing and receiving yards. These three players accounted for 3,563 yards or 59% of the offensive production! Given the recent inability to score points, it seems like the offense is still searching for its next big playmakers.
Defensively speaking, the Bruins look a bit different this season as well. There aren’t as many recognizable names. The biggest missing piece is obviously Myles Jack. Former defensive back Ishmael Adams was converted to receiver. A bright spot for the Bruins is a healthy Eddie Vanderdoes, who missed just about all of last season after suffering an ACL injury. Vanderdoes has suffered a strained knee this year, and appeared to aggravate the injury against Stanford on Saturday.
This is a game that has a major effect on the Pac-12 South landscape. Both teams are entering this game 0-1 in conference play. An 0-2 start will be difficult to overcome and seriously contend for the division.
This will be the fifth time Rich Rodriguez has faced the Bruins since arriving to Tucson. He is still searching for his first win against Jim Mora. In a year with so much unpredictability, the Wildcats may finally deliver Coach Rodriguez that first win over Mora.