UCLA vs. California: How they match up
UCLA (0-1) vs. California (0-0)
Sunday, 9 a.m., Rose Bowl. TV: FS1. Radio: 570.
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers vs. the UCLA secondary. Garbers, a former standout at Corona del Mar High, is coming off a strong finish to 2019 in which he combined to throw for 787 yards with six touchdowns and one interception during season-ending victories over Stanford, UCLA and Illinois. The redshirt junior is a primary reason the Golden Bears were picked to finish second in the Pac-12 North, behind only Oregon. UCLA’s secondary hopes to rebound after making Colorado’s Sam Noyer look like a veteran in his first college start last week. Noyer completed 20 of 31 passes for 257 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
UCLA (478 ypg/42 ppg): The numbers looked good for the Bruins in their opener, but the eye test revealed that something was missing. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for two of UCLA’s four first-half turnovers, forcing the team into comeback mode. Tight end Greg Dulcich showed that he could be a season-long weapon after piling up a career-high 126 receiving yards.
Cal (328.5 ypg/21.2 ppg in 2019): New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is expected to implement a pro-style offense with all 11 starters back from the Golden Bears’ final two games last season. Running back Christopher Brown Jr. is coming off a season in which he ran for 914 yards, making him the second-leading Pac-12 ball carrier returning in 2020.
UCLA (525 ypg/48 ppg): The Bruins flashed some early potential with their new 4-2-5 defense, stopping Colorado after only one first down on the Buffaloes’ opening drive. The floodgates opened from there, partially as a result of the UCLA’s four turnovers and the defense being on the field for 39½ minutes. One positive for the Bruins was that they generated eight tackles for loss.
Cal (389.9 ypg/21.9 ppg in 2019): Defense will always be a priority for the Golden Bears under coach Justin Wilcox, the former USC defensive coordinator whose teams have given up 25 or more points only four times in the last 26 games. Six starters are back from the unit that held all but two opponents below their average scoring output against other teams in 2019.
UCLA played a nearly flawless opener on special teams, blocking two field-goal attempts and making all of its kicks. Luke Akers averaged 47.7 yards on his three punts.
Figuring out whether UCLA is going to win under coach Chip Kelly is often as easy as tracking the turnovers. The Bruins are plus-11 in turnovers in their victories under Kelly as opposed to minus-22 in their losses.
UCLA defensive end-linebacker Myles Jackson announced on Instagram this week that he would have to miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury. Kelly said wide receiver Kyle Philips and defensive back Obi Eboh had returned to practice this week after getting hurt against Colorado.
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