Spaulding Roundup: Offensive Adjustments

We will shift our focus today on the Bruin offense and how they are going to handle Oregon’s defense, which leads the conference sacks (19 in 6 games). In order to address Oregon’s pass rush, Bruin OL will have to deal with DE Nick Reed, who leads the conference in sacks and tackles for loss this season. The guy who is going to have the challenge to go up against Nick Reed will be none other than true freshman Jeff Baca. It’s a monster challenge and Chris Foster from the LAT reports on how Palcic plans to put his freshman OL in best position possible to deal with this difficult assignment:

Reed shared the Pacific 10 Conference lead, and was third nationally, with 12 sacks last season. He also led the conference with 22.5 tackles for a loss. This year, he leads the conference with six sacks and is tied for the lead with 9.5 tackles for a loss.

So lining up a freshman that has two college starts against Reed might seem to be cruel and unusual punishment. But UCLA offensive line coach Bob Palcic is cautiously optimistic.

"I think Jeff is up to the task," Palcic said. "I told the entire team that this Reed kid is the real deal. He has all the moves and he's quick. I'm looking forward to seeing how Jeff handles the situation."

Baca has improved dramatically since training camp, overcoming a knee injury. He made his first appearance against Arizona on Sept. 20 and has been in the lineup ever since.

Palcic said that he could throw Baca some support from his teammates this week.

"There are things we can do to help him," Palcic said. "We can slide the protection to him. We can have a back chip the defensive end on the way out of the backfield. We can also put a tight end on his side to constrict rush area. We will do it if we have to."

As we have been discussing all year for Bruins to neutralize the pass rush and pressure on QBs, they will have to generate a legit running game. After taking positive steps fro two straight weeks against Arizona and Fresno State, the running game stalled last week against a determined Washington State team. Dohn reports on how RB coach Wayne Moses is working with our backs to get them to fight for every yard. Mose is teaching them to lean forward:

"Right now, every yard is a yard," Moses said. "We've got to make sure we finish the run and make sure we fall forward. Sometimes you get knocked back, but when they spot the ball you lose a yard. If they're not falling forward, they're not doing the right thing.

"You know how many times I saw it was fourth-and-1, but we got knocked back two plays earlier? There's the 1 yard right there."

The lopsided victory over Washington State - UCLA's first since the opener against Tennessee - made the running game woes not as glaring. Kahlil Bell had 21 carries for 43 yards, but five of those carries were for negative yards. He averaged just 2 yards per carry.

It's not just the running backs, because any good running back typically runs behind a stout offensive line.

"There's lot variables, but the facts are we need to get that (rushing average) up," Moses said. "We need to be more efficient. You make five and lose three (yards). We've got to be more consistent not losing yards. We've got to get the negative runs out of it. If it's a no-gainer, it's a no-gainer. The minus-yards aren't a good thing.  We've got to be more consistent at limiting the minus-runs, because that's what's getting us."

Another tactic coaches have been using is to directly snap the ball our back while lining up KC at WR. From the OC Register:

UCLA continues to work on formations in which quarterback Kevin Craft sprints out to the wide receiver position and the tailback takes a direct snap. The Bruins have used the formation a handful of times in games.

It serves a couple of purposes, giving the runner an extra split second to reach the hole and forcing the other team to spend time in practice preparing for it.

“Whether we do it once or we don't do it at all, we've shown it and they have to see it,” Craft said.

Craft played wide receiver in high school.

I think that tactic will work if we don’t go to it all the time. It has been effective here and there last few weeks when it came as a surprise. I am not sure if it will continue to work if the defense is ready for it and we telegraph it by running KC to the WR spot. Should be interesting to see if we see that formation against Oregon now that we have seen it for two straight weeks.

For more on the offense check out the notes from Press Enterprise, which discusses Chandler getting adjusted to being a TE again. Also the report indicates that the coaches have been trying out Forbath for kickoff, which is good news considering Rotstein has not been very effective in kicking it deep so far this season.

I will try to put together more notes on Oregon’s defense later tonight. They are somewhat under fire up in Eugene, which will make them even more dangerous because they will be anxious to prove themselves against a UCLA offense, which is still in the process of forging identity in CRN and Chow’s first season.

GO BRUINS.

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