CORRECTION: Kai Nicau and Austin McChesney are only suspended for the 1st half of the UCLA v. BYU game. The article below incorrectly states that both players would miss the entire game.
Welcome to week three of BN's Pregame Guesses ("PGG"). Tomorrow, UCLA squares off against a BYU team that is hungry to avenge a close loss at the Rose Bowl last season. Before I get into the music and the guesses, let's first review how the PGG participants did last week, shall we?
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Last week, nobody got all three questions (plus the bonus question) correct. In reviewing the submissions, however, I do have some shout outs to make. Props to Meriones for picking the exact number of Josh Rosen's passing yards--267 (Jeffro_TBS was close with 270). Nobody guessed that Josh would only throw for one TD.
Meriones also picked the number of UNLV points to be over 13, at did Victor E Bell (who also picked attendance at 64,000). Most people took the under.
ishXdavid guessed that UCLA would force two turnovers, both INTs, which was spot on as Randall Goforth grabbed both picks by UCLA. If ishXdavid had also guesses that Goforth would snag both INTs, I would have declared him a witch and sent him an application to Hogwarts. Sponkey21 also guesses two turnovers.
Finally, Meriones guessed that the attendance would be 63,000 (it was 63,712). Sponkey21 also guessed 63,000. Victor E Bell picked 64,000, which is closer but if you go by "Price as Right" rules, he "overbid."
Based on that, I am declaring Meriones the week 2 winner with Victor E. Bell and Sponkey21 as runners up! Well done!
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I do not feel confident about the BYU game. The last time the Bruins played in Provo--albeit under Rick Neuheisel in 2008--the Bruins were destroyed 59-0. Head Coach Jim Mora has never been involved in a game in Provo, but he has done well in the state of Utah while leading UCLA, beating Utah twice in two attempts in the high altitude.
My lack of confidence is rooted in Taysom Hill and his threat to run the ball. Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley had better have a game plan in place to limit him running wild. I fear that he will not.
Last week, UCLA gave up 46 yards on 10 rushes and a touchdown to UNLV's quarterback, Johnny Stanton. Particularly infuriating was the fact that Stanton gained first downs with long runs on quarterback draws on two occasions.. The first was a 3rd and 13 in the first quarter where Stanton gained 14 yards on a drive that resulted in a touchdown; the second was an 11 yard touchdown run on 2nd and 10 from UCLA's 11 yard line.
What was particularly infuriating about this to those that were watching on TV was that the PAC 12 Networks Color Commentator, Yogi Roth, who is pretty darn good at what he does, predicted a quarterback run on the first play immediately before it occurred.
Before the first run, Roth said:
I wouldn't be surprised to see a keeper with Johnny Stanton.
UNLV then took a timeout and Bradley should have been alerting his squad to the possibility of a QB run and perhaps assigning a linebacker or a safety to shadow Stanton. Didn't happen. Stanton ran untouched for eleven yards before initial contact, pushing forward for the final three yards and a first down, extending the drive that led to UNLV's first touchdown.
One play before the second run, after UNLV ran the read option for four yards and a first down to UCLA's 11 yard line, but before Stanton threw incomplete to Devonte Boyd in the end zone, creating a 2nd and 10, Roth said:
I really think they are setting up another run for Johnny Stanton.
One play after this statement, Stanton ran untouched into the end zone, cutting UCLA's lead to 28-21.
If a TV analyst has a better grasp on what a team might do than the opposing defensive coordinator, something is wrong.
This week will be a huge test for Bradley and his defense.
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If you ever saw the movie "School of Rock" (or the Broadway musical), you know that roll-n-roll music is supposed to be about "sticking it to the man." In fact, the musical (but not the movie) has a song in it called "Stick it to the Man." If you read Robert Bastron's excellent article earlier this week, you know that Hill is a 26 year old man playing among boys.
A good tackle in college football is often referred to as a "stick." So, I though I'd use a song this week about "sticking it to the man," to reflect the critical importance of UCLA tackling Taysom Hill before he can run wild.
Now, there are many of these types of songs out there, but many are of the "R rated" variety. A few Rage Against the Machine songs would have fit in here well, but for the colorful language. We'll keep this PG. I'm going with Bad Religion's "Recipe for Hate" off of the 1993 album of the same name, and I am going with a live version of the song from a 2010 concert:
I also picked the live version because I have the privilege of seeing Bad Religion live (for the first time since the 90s) next month! Bad Religion has always been a band that has a social conscience. An L.A. band formed in 1979, they've been "sticking it to the man" for the better part of four decades.
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"Sticking it to the Man" will not be easy. In his collegiate career, Hill has 2,334 yards on 421 carries in 21 games. That's 5.5 rushing average, which looks even better when one considered that in NCAA football (unlike the NFL) sacks count against rushing yardage. Hill has 26 rushing TDs in his career.
This season, Hill has 124 yards rushing on 24 carries, a 5.2 average. He has two TDs.
PREGAME GUESS #1: Over his career, Hill averages 16 carries per game, for 86 yards and one TD. This season through two games, he is down slightly, to 12 carries for 86 yards and one TD. But we are talking about UCLA's rush defense. Will Hill rush for more than his career average (86 yards per game) against the Bruins?
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BYU is tied for #59 in the country in total defense after two games, allowing 345.5 yards per game (142 yards per game on the ground and 203.5 in the air). Their red zone defense, however, is excellent, tied for 9th in the country with four red zone attempts defended, for one touchdown and one made field goal.
In its game against Texas A&M, UCLA had trouble scoring in the red zone, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, although that was not an issue against UNLV. Pregame Guess #2 is a two-parter.
PREGAME GUESS #2: How many times will UCLA make its way into BYU's red zone? Of those times, how many red zone opportunities will result in touchdowns?
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Josh Rosen had a tough outing against BYU last season, throwing three INTs and looking every bit the freshman. He'll try to give a better effort tomorrow but will his receivers cooperate? The wide outs and tight ends have had a major case of dropping passes so far this season.
UCLA will be aided because BYU will be missing two starting DBs due to targeting penalties last week. Neither senior safety Kai Nacua nor freshman cornerback Austin McChesney will suit up tomorrow.
PREGAME GUESS #3: I am setting the over/under line at 25. WIll Josh Rosen complete more or less than 25 passes agaisnt BYU? (FYI: he completed 26 against Texas A&M and 23 against UNLV.
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BONUS QUESTION: Sixteen different Bruins have caught a pass this season. Which UCLA player will lead the team in receptions tomorrow? (FYI: Going into the game, Eldridge Massington and Kenneth Walker III are tied for the team lead with seven through two games).
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I hope that you enjoyed this week's Pregame Guesses. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.