Greeting and Happy Friday! Welcome to week two of Bruins Nation’s Pregame Guesses. Last week, we saw the UCLA Bruins football team (0-1) play like a team loaded with underclassmen in the starting and back-up positions on the depth chart. The Bruins lost at home, 26-17, to a Cincinnati Bearcats team that is not going to scare many opponents this season.
This week, the stakes are significantly raised, as UCLA travels to one of the iconic venues in college football, Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma, to play the #6 Oklahoma Sooners (1-0). The Bruins are massive underdogs, with most betting lines picking the Sooners minus 30 points. I cannot recall the last time UCLA was a thirty point ‘dog.
With 71% underclassmen in the two-deep, the Bruins are young, inexperienced, and learning a new system under Chip Kelly. On offense, only two seniors started for the Bruins last week, both of whom were graduate transfers. Wilton Speight was knocked out of the game with a back injury and may not play tomorrow (whether he is healthy or not). On defense, EdmontosuarusUCLA started only two seniors, Adarius Pickett and Nate Meadors. That is not a lot of senior leadership for the Bruins.
There will be growing pains this year—some fans have even called this year a “practice year”—as these young players learn the college game. It could be said that these players are learning to fly, and that is the theme of this week’s musical selection.
Last week’s selection of Blur merited multiple comments: “Blur sucks”; “Blur is one of the best bands of the last 25 years”; 77Bruinlaw wants music from the late 60s/early 70s. Luckily for me, this week there are a few different bands that released songs called “Learning to Fly” or “Learn to Fly.” So take your pick (or listen to all three).
There’s Tom Petty:
There’s Pink Floyd (minus Roger Waters):
And there’s the Foo Fighters (along with a goofy intro that is not part of the original tune):
Hopefully something for everybody, including a band from the 60s and a band from the 70s, although both songs I selected were produced much later (Floyd in ‘87, Petty in ‘91).
With your pick of the song you like best (hopefully) playing in the background, let’s move on to the guesses for this week.
Last week, UCLA’s 3-4 defense under Jerry Azzinaro looked better and much more aggressive than previous iterations under Tom Bradley’s 4-3 defense. The caveat, however, was that it was performing against a Cincinnati offense that did not put fear into many opponents.
Such is not the case with the Oklahoma Sooners, even without Baker Mayfield. The Sooners rolled up 650 yards against Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic squad, in a 65-13 beat down. The score was 42-0 at the half, which allowed OU to play a lot of reserves in the second half, including its second and third string quarterbacks. Heck, even their backup kicker made a PAT.
Now, before you say, it’s just FAU, please note that many thought that FAU had a chance to be this year’s Central Florida and the Owls DID win eleven games last season. Florida Atlantic was ranked #25 by Sports Illustrated going into the season.
The Sooners offense was balanced with 316 yards rushing and 334 yards passing and had several big plays go for touchdowns, including a 65-yard run, a 41-yard run, and two 65-yard receptions.
Can UCLA’s defense do better against the high powered Sooners?
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: Predict Oklahoma total yards in tomorrow’s contest against UCLA, and break that number down between rushing yards and passing yards.
Although UCLA’s defense performed reasonably well last week, such was not the case with the Bruins’ rushing attack. If you take away Kazmeir Allen’s 74 yard touchdown run, the Bruins had 30 carries for 70 yards.
UCLA’s most seasoned running back, Bolu Olorunfunmi, was ineffective, with 9 carries for 13 yards. Josh Kelley had 6 carries for 20 yards. Soso Jamabo is still suspended. Can the undersized (5’8”, 175 lbs.) but lightning fast Allen carry the workload for the Bruins?
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: Which UCLA running back will get the most carries against the Sooners and how many yards will that back gain?
As I mentioned, UCLA’s defense looked more aggressive last week. In his excellent-as-always Eye Test earlier this week, Dimitri highlighted the fact that UCLA blitzed more, played some press coverage, and did some things on the defensive line (pre-snap stunts and shifts) to exploit match-up advantages. As a result, the Bruins recorded four sacks, tied for #14 in the nation.
On the other hand, Oklahoma’s offensive line is considerably more talented than Cincinnati’s. The Sooners are experienced, starting three seniors and two redshirt juniors. FAU had two sacks against OU, both of which occurred against the Sooners’ second stringer, Austin Kendall, not the starter, Kyler Murray.
PREGAME GUESS NUMBER THREE: How many sacks will UCLA record against the Oklahoma offense?
Make your guesses in the comment section below. Or comment on the musical selections. Or sound off on anything related to UCLA football. Thanks for reading and...