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UCLA vs. Cal: How the Bruins and Bears match up

UCLA needs to show progress, and a victory over California would improve the Bruins’ overall record to 4-4 after they have entered the last three Novembers at 3-5. Staff writer Chris Foster examines the game’s issues and matchups:

Movable feast

Cal Coach Jeff Tedford squeezed more efficiency out of quarterback Zach Maynard last week by moving him around.

Maynard had three passes intercepted against USC two weeks ago. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown without an interception in a 34-10 victory over Utah last week.

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“We did move him a little more than we did in the past, off play-action stuff and the run game,” Tedford said. “The nice thing about Zach is when you do want to move the pocket, he can make plays.”

The Bruins haven’t been able to apply pressure even when the quarterback just stands there. UCLA has six sacks in seven games.

Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, has passed for 1,840 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Here’s the catch

The passing-game matchup looks tilted Cal’s way.

The Bears’ offense features two prominent receivers. The Bruins have a secondary with issues.

California receiver Keenan Allen has 60 receptions for 906 yards and a 129-yard-per-game average that leads the nation. Marvin Jones has 40 receptions for 599 yards.

UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price still has a gimpy right knee. His backup, Andrew Abbott, has been effective but suffered a minor shoulder injury last week. He is also listed at 5 feet 9. Allen and Jones are both 6-3.

The Bruins are without free safety Tony Dye (neck injury), and strong safety Dietrich Riley appeared to be demoted this week, with Stan McKay replacing him on the first team.

Ball control

UCLA plans to run the ball and keep a beleaguered defense off the field.

Of course, that was the plan last week when the Bruins were buried so quickly by Arizona in a 48-12 loss that they never had the chance to try it out.

UCLA had only 37 yards rushing in that game.

California’s defense is 27th nationally against the run, even after allowing 365 yards against Oregon.

Utah’s John White ran for 171 yards against Pittsburgh two weeks ago. The Bears held him to 39 last week.

One-two punch

California running backs have feasted on UCLA defenses the last three seasons — even the ones who started the game on the bench.

In 2008, starter Jahvid Best had 115 yards, with reserve Shane Vereen getting another 99.

In 2009, Best had 102 yards, with Vereen going for 154.

In 2010, Vereen, as the starter, gained 151 yards, with Isi Sofele gaining 80 off the bench.

Sofele is now the starter, and has gained 627 yards. But look out for backup C.J. Anderson, who has 144 yards this season.

Numbers game

UCLA leads the Pacific 12 Conference in one category … suspended players.

The Bruins are without six players for this game, all suspended for their part in the on-field brawl with Arizona on Oct. 20. One, guard Albert Cid, is eligible to come back after halftime.

The suspensions hit the receiving corps hard, with Randall Carroll, Taylor Embree, Shaquelle Evans and Ricky Marvray out for one game.

Nelson Rosario and Josh Smith are the only wide receivers who have played this season. It leaves the Bruins with a jury-rigged offense: Jerry Johnson, who hasn’t played since sustaining a fractured ankle last October, and Jerry Rice Jr., a non-scholarship player, probably will get playing time as receivers.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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