UCLA vs. Fresno State: A look at how the teams match up
UCLA (0-2) vs. Fresno State (1-1)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Rose Bowl. TV: FS1. Radio: 570, 1150, 97.3.
UCLA’s offensive line versus Fresno State’s defensive line. The Bruins have allowed 11 sacks, 20 tackles for losses and four quarterback hurries in two games but don’t appear to be facing as ferocious a pass rush Saturday. The Bulldogs feature four new starters along their defensive line and have totaled just two sacks, including one last weekend against Minnesota true freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad.
Fresno State (392.5 ypg/46.5 ppg): Quarterback Marcus McMaryion has started one game at the Rose Bowl — for Oregon State. The graduate transfer completed 22 of 33 passes for 232 yards and one interception during the Beavers’ 38-24 loss during the 2016 season. The Bulldogs opted to let halfback Josh Hokit throw their final pass last weekend against Minnesota and it was intercepted in the end zone, ending their comeback hopes.
UCLA (344.5 ypg/19 ppg): Freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson showed the poise of a veteran while facing constant pressure against Oklahoma. But will his progress be stalled by the return of Wilton Speight from a back injury that has sidelined the graduate transfer since the season opener? The Bruins’ run game could benefit from the return of tailback Soso Jamabo from a two-game suspension.
Fresno State (307 ypg/17 ppg): The Bulldogs lead the Football Bowl Subdivision with eight turnovers forced, though seven came in the season opener against Idaho, a Football Championship Subdivision school. Fresno State’s five interceptions and three fumble recoveries have led to 45 points.
UCLA (394.5 ypg/37.5 ppg): The Bruins held Oklahoma without a 100-yard rusher, the first time they have been able to do that to an opponent since late in the 2016 season. Incremental progress seems encouraging for a run defense that is coming off a season in which it set a school record for futility.
Punt and kickoff coverage will be under a megawatt spotlight for UCLA after giving up an 86-yard kickoff return and a 66-yard punt return against Oklahoma, prompting coach Chip Kelly to question his players’ effort. … Fresno State has averaged just 13.8 yards on four kickoff returns.
UCLA has converted only one of four fourth-down attempts this season, far below the 60.2% success rate Kelly enjoyed during his four seasons at Oregon.… Kelly went 4-0 against Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford from 2009-12 while Kelly was with the Ducks and Tedford coached California.
Besides the uncertainty surrounding Speight, the Bruins have lingering questions at linebacker. Leni Toailoa, Je’Vari Anderson and Elijah Wade are all questionable because of injuries.… Fresno State lost left tackle Netane Muti for the season with an Achilles’ injury suffered against Minnesota.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch
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