I sat down with Carlos Sandoval, lead editor of Go Joe Bruin and asked him some questions about this very important football game–for both teams–between Arizona and UCLA. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What are the Bruins “keys to victory” over Arizona this weekend?
For UCLA to win, the Bruins need to hit Matt Scott early and often. There’s no way the UCLA secondary can stop that air-oriented attack RichRod’s put together and there’s no way in hell the DBs can keep up with the Arizona wide-outs. UCLA’s also going to have to get a push from that UCLA offensive line, and though the Arizona defense doesn’t scare me, we can still get in trouble if we’re not giving freshman phenom Brett Hundley time in the pocket.
2. What concerns you most about this Saturday?
Pretty much just the UCLA secondary, as I stated above. Matt Scott’s damn good at this whole pass-like-you’ve-never-passed-before offense and that air attack is lethal to decent secondaries; can you imagine what it’ll do to bad ones?
3. How can Arizona have the best chance to upset UCLA?
I don’t even think Arizona should be underdogs. UCLA has proven me wrong before (see: ASU, Nebraska), but the Wildcats look a lot like 2011 USC and could destroy anything that gets in their way; plus, UCLA has mismatches. I have no problem repeating myself: That UCLA secondary sucks.
4. What is it about the UCLA offense that racks up so many yards?
Sometimes we don’t rack up many yards but when we do — more often than not, at least — it’s because the offense utilizes the run game by getting RB Johnathan Franklin outside the tackles, while Hundley throws these odd, behind-the-line-of-scrimmage-like-hell screens that puts speedy guys like Damien Thigpen and Steven Manfro in open space. They employ a very solid spread attack but, as is the case with any offense in the country, it’s dependent on the offensive line doing its job.
5. What players do the Wildcats need to keep their eyes on?Besides the obvious (Franklin and Hundley)? LB No. 11 Anthony Barr, who is an absolute trainwreck for opposing backfields. He gets a tad too much credit because it’s the defensive line that gets the push, thus opening up holes — as the 3-4 is wont to do — but Barr knows how to shoot these gaps and he’s incredibly athletic. Mind you, he barely started playing linebacker this year (he was a running back two years running). Scary, huh?
6. Who from Arizona worries you the most?
Besides Matt Scott? Going to roll with Austin Hill here; I know, Kadeem Carey and all, but UCLA’s run defense is a hell of a lot better than the stats show and yards-per-game means nothing if the opposition is running it like hell. It’s usually the opposition’s best wide-out that screws UCLA over defensively and that’s the kind of day Hill can have.
7. What is the most intriguing thing about this game?
Implications and narratives, always implications and narratives. Arizona and UCLA are right on there in the upper tier of the Pac-12 South; if UCLA wins this, USC’s road to a Pac-12 title will likely go through the Bruins in a match-up on November 17. If Arizona wins, the ‘Cats can win the damn division outright given their schedule and given USC loses to Oregon (and that looks about right).
Thank you Carlos! Awesome stuff.