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UCLA Football Preview: Can the Bruins Find a Way to Stop Jalen Hurts?

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The Oklahoma Sooners bring Jalen Hurts, the #1 quarterback in the country, to Pasadena on Saturday.

South Dakota v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The UCLA Bruins will host Jalen Hurts and the #5 Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday and, with program support at an all-time low, the Rose Bowl is going to look like an Oklahoma home game. After losing 23-14 to San Diego State on Saturday and starting the year 0-2, the likelihood that there will be some “Miracle at the Rose Bowl” is pretty much out of the question.

The Sooners have scored 119 points in two games over Houston and South Dakota, good enough to be the #1 team nationally in total offense. This doesn’t bode well for the Bruins as Houston is ranked #46 overall and UCLA officially has its first triple-digit ranking for the season at #102. Here is a look at the offense UCLA will be up against.

Quarterback

It’s no question that we’ll see Heisman candidate Jalen Hurts commanding the offense and, while they have blown out both opponents, this guy just isn’t satisfied yet. He’s officially in beast mode and, even though they torched South Dakota on Saturday, Hurts still hit the gym afterwards for a workout with strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie. He said he had something on his mind and it probably has something to do with meeting Alabama in the national title game in January.

Hurts already has over 500 yards and nine touchdowns this year with three on the ground and six in the air. His completion percentage is at 87% and, of course, he has no interceptions. His QB rating is at 252.3, almost 50 points higher than former teammate Tua Tagovailoa who comes in at #6. In case you were curious, Dorian Thompson-Robinson is not in the top 100. With the complete lack of a pass rush, UCLA is going to get absolutely embarrassed by Hurts on Saturday.

The Sooner backups, Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler, have limited but impressive stats. Both have recorded touchdowns. Mordecai has two and Rattler has one, the three quarterbacks combined have accounted for 775 passing yards in just two games. This group just can’t be stopped.

Offensive Line

A team simply can’t have a successful quarterback without a top notch offensive line and Oklahoma is no exception. Hurts has been sacked just once in two games and the youth excuse that Bruin fans have to keep using for UCLA won’t fly with this team. The Sooners lost four when Bobby Evans, Cody Ford, Dru Samia and Ben Powers left for the NFL in the 2019 draft and they have moved forward in a seamless fashion.

The starters for this unit are all underclassmen, including sophomore center Creed Humphrey, and sophomores Marquis Hayes at guard and Erik Swenson at tackle on the left. Senior R.J. Proctor will be in the rotation as well. On the right, freshman Tyrese Robinson will flank Hurts at guard and redshirt sophomore Adrian Ealy will be at the tackle position.

Running Backs

As of right now, Hurts is the top runner for the Sooners with 223 yards and three touchdowns, but Oklahoma is definitely loaded at this position. Junior Trey Sermon is one of three running backs who have scored at least one touchdown and, in the process, he has racked up 147 yards. Junior Rhamondre Stevenson is right behind Sermon with 145 yards. Stevenson had a monster game last week against South Dakota, putting up 104 yards and punching in one touchdown.

We’ll also see Kennedy Brooks and Charleston Rambo moving the rock, although Rambo is technically a wide receiver. But with the way things have been going, Oklahoma will more than likely have the opportunity to give some guys that are down the depth chart some additional playing time.

Wide Receivers

Having a quarterback like Hurts will make the receiving stats for this game look like a video game. A total of 15 receivers have caught the ball in two games and six of those receivers have caught nine touchdowns. Junior CeeDee Lamb is at the top of the stats sheet, logging 190 yards and two touchdowns. Behind him is Rambo with another 135 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Jadon Haselwood is the final receiver with triple-digit yards in both games. So far, he has 124 receiving yards and a touchdown.

There are a dozen more receivers that have recorded anywhere from two to 55 yards. Three of them have scored at least one touchdown. Hurts makes it easy with his smooth and accurate passes. With UCLA completely lacking a pass rush, this unit is going to run up the score on Saturday.

Analysis

The fact is this: Hurts is an absolutely amazing quarterback with national championship experience. Last year, UCLA at least looked like they were putting up a fight. While the Bruins are the home team this year, the Sooners have Jalen Hurts. This game is going to be hard to watch.


Go Bruins!