UCLA needs running game to bounce back against Colorado
The standings in the Pac-12 Conference South Division look skewed at this early point in the season. UCLA will try to inject a dose of order into things when it visits Folsom Field to play current co-leader Colorado. Times staff writer Chris Foster examines the story lines and matchups of Saturday’s game.
Go to the tape
Each of UCLA’s Pac-12 foes will be interested to watch the video of the Bruins’ game against Oregon State.
UCLA entered that game ranked second nationally in rushing and third in total offense. The Beavers took away the run — the Bruins were limited to 72 yards rushing — and forbid the swing passes that had made UCLA so potent through three games.
Oregon State did it by moving players from its secondary close to the line of scrimmage.
“If team is going to play introverted safeties like that, if you can get behind them and make a play, then that sometimes affects them a little bit,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora said.
In other words, you throw deep.
“I like that,” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley said.
Said wide receiver Shaquelle Evans: “You really want to hear that as a receiver.”
Not to dampen Hundley and Evans giddiness, but the two hooked up on two deep balls against Oregon State — one for a 65-yard touchdown play — but the Bruins still were unable to loosen up the Beavers’ defense.
This game looks different from the Oregon State game in two major ways:
• Colorado’s defense is not as formidable — the Buffaloes give up averages of 472.5 yards and 38.75 points per game.
•Hundley’s right ankle appears healed.
Hundley was injured against Nebraska and limped through the Houston victory. He was moderately better against Oregon State, but was still not as elusive as he had been.
“I’m not going to blame the bad ankle, but now he’s starting to get back to where he feels almost 100%,” said Noel Mazzone, UCLA’s offensive coordinator. “The healthier he is, the more he can run. It’s a threat.”
Surfing the Webb
Colorado also has a quarterback who is dangerous when flushed from the pocket. But not so much as a runner.
Jordan Webb threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns in rallying the Buffaloes to a 35-34 victory over Washington State last week.
“He throws well on the run to his left, which isn’t easy to do” for a right-hander, Mora said. “You see some quarterbacks tuck the ball as soon as they get out of the pocket. The secondary can come out of coverage and pursue the ball. This guy keeps the ball in his hand, keeps his eyes down the field and is a threat to throw the ball.”
Webb can also run, if needed. He scored two touchdowns against Washington State, including the game winner with nine seconds left.
One problem for Colorado and Webb if he does scramble to his left: He may be running into the not-so-tender arms of UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.
Barr has starred on defense after moving over from the offense during spring practice. He leads the Bruins in sacks with five and is second in tackles for a loss with seven. He has also forced two fumbles.
“The level he is playing at, considering his experience, is really amazing,” Mora said. “In the meetings, he’s in the front all the time and answers every question first. He knows every adjustment. The guy is tremendous.”
Jordan Zumwalt, the Bruins’ other outside linebacker, is unable to play because of a deep cut on his forehead sustained when he was struck by a car while riding a scooter.
The loss to Oregon State bounced UCLA from the national rankings. The positive spin on that: UCLA is 29-10-2 after a loss that knocked them out of the polls. The Bruins have won their next game the last four times they were dropped from the top 25.... Colorado has played 13 true freshmen, tying the Buffaloes for the fifth-most in the nation.
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