UCLA-Arizona: A look at how the teams match up
A look at how UCLA (1-3, 1-0) and Arizona (2-1, 0-0) match up heading into Saturday’s game at 7:30 p.m. (Arizona Stadium, Tucson. TV: ESPN. Radio: 570).
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate vs. the UCLA secondary. The Bruins have faced one dual-threat quarterback this season, leading to double trouble when Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts accounted for 439 yards and four touchdowns through the air and on the ground. It could be more of the same Saturday unless UCLA can find a way to stop Tate, who did not play against the Bruins last season because of an injury but piled up 378 yards against them during an easy Wildcats win in 2017. UCLA’s secondary, expected to be a strength, is coming off a game in which it was singed for nine touchdown passes by Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon while routinely getting beaten and struggling to make tackles.
UCLA (361.8 ypg/27.3 ppg): The Bruins nearly doubled their scoring average thanks to last week’s 67-point outburst that followed three consecutive ho-hum 14-point performances. Which offense will show up against Arizona? Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will try to keep things rolling after logging a school-record 564 yards last week.
Did UCLA alter the trajectory of its season with a gritty comeback against Washington State? The Bruins will find out Saturday night against Arizona.
Arizona (586 ypg/43.7 ppg): The Wildcats rank fifth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 307.7 yards per game, largely behind the play of Tate (79.3 rushing yards per game) and running backs Gary Brightwell (75.3) and J.J. Taylor (69.3). Arizona has also been one of the nation’s most efficient teams, converting 58.7% of its third downs to rank third nationally.
UCLA (530.3 ypg/39.5 ppg): Staying opportunistic could be imperative for the Bruins after they forced six turnovers last weekend; Arizona has been somewhat sloppy with the ball, committing five turnovers in its two games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams. UCLA is still seeking any semblance of a pass rush, averaging just 1½ sacks per game.
Arizona (482.7 ypg/33.3 ppg): The Wildcats lead the nation with eight interceptions in just three games, one more interception than they came up with all of last season. Senior cornerback Jace Whittaker is tied for the national lead with three interceptions.
UCLA freshman Jack Landherr took over the snapping duties on field goals and PATs last week, helping kicker J.J. Molson make his first field goal of the season after two misses. Johnny Den Bleyker remains the long snapper on punts.
Tracking UCLA’s success under coach Chip Kelly has been as simple as following the turnover margin. The Bruins are plus-13 in their four victories and minus-13 in their 12 losses. UCLA scored 29 points off the six turnovers it forced against Washington State, the first points the Bruins had scored off turnovers this season.
UCLA safety Quentin Lake, receiver Theo Howard and running back Martell Irby are questionable with injuries. Left guard Michael Alves, who hasn’t played this season because of a back issue, remains out. … Arizona’s off week is expected to allow the Wildcats to go into their Pac-12 Conference opener at essentially full strength barring any unexpected injury setbacks.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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