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Arizona vs. UCLA: First look at the Bruins

Pac-12 play begins

arizona-wildcats-ucla-bruins-preview-kelly-dorian-thompson-robinson-comeback-pac-12 Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off its second bye week of the season, Arizona stays home to play host to UCLA. The Wildcats look to keep the momentum from Texas Tech rolling into conference play.

Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 pm PT and will be televised on ESPN. This will be the second straight game that the Wildcats will be featured on ESPN.

Here’s a quick look at the Bruins:

2019 Record: 1-3 (1-0, Pac-12)

  • Week 1 loss at Cincinnati (24-14)
  • Week 2 loss vs. San Diego State (23-14)
  • Week 3 loss vs. Oklahoma (48-14)
  • Week 4 win at Washington State (67-63)

Key Offensive Players: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB), Joshua Kelley (RB), Demetric Felton (WR), Jake Burton (OL)

Key Defensive Players: Darnay Holmes (CB), Krys Barnes (LB), Keisean Lucier-South (LB), Elijah Wade (DT)

How they match up

UCLA comes to Tucson after stealing a win at Washington State. The Bruins came back from a 49-17 third-quarter deficit. This was coach Chip Kelly’s fourth win in 16 games.

One of those wins came against Arizona last year in a 31-30 nail-biter while Khalil Tate was sidelined due to injury.

Much of the Bruins’ trouble can be attributed to second-year quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR). However, he may have turned the corner last week. After Saturday’s performance, he now has recorded 10 touchdowns and thrown 1,063 yards while completing 57.6 percent of his passes.

Joshua Kelley was one of the few bright spots for the Bruins last season but he has had a slow start to 2019. Like DTR, Saturday was his best performance but he still only rushed for 90 yards on 20 attempts.

Demetric Felton has been one of the consistent bright spots on offense. The Bruins used him as their primary running back in week one at Cincinnati when Kelley was sidelined. He posted 162 combined rushing/receiving yards in that game.

Felton currently leads UCLA in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns with 321 and two, respectively. He is also the team’s second leading rusher with 177 yards and an average of 4.2 per attempt.

As for the defense, it has struggled mightily but the return of redshirt senior linebacker Keisean Lucier-South will be good for this young defense. His pairing with Krys Barnes makes for one of the better starting linebacker units in the conference.

Darnay Holmes is another key piece you can’t sleep on. The problem I see is, from there, the Bruins are just average. There could be something to the return of Lucier-South which could offer additional leadership on the field. However, it’s yet to be seen.

Arizona is in no position to overlook any opponent but especially an opponent who can score 67 points on the road against Washington State. The Wildcats should be fresh and focused having come off their second bye week of the early season.

The good news is the Bruins have really struggled on defense to date. They have allowed just north of 40 points per game. That’s a bit misleading, though, considering they played Oklahoma and Washington State—two of the better offenses in the country.

Although UA’s offense isn’t quite at the level of OU or WSU, you have to feel good about their chances of putting up points at home.

However, this could be trouble for the Wildcats if UCLA’s offense is able to keep things going. DTR played out of his mind last week which makes for another test for the defense.