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Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruin Football Visits Oregon Ducks

Who will start under center for the Bruins and Ducks? Will UCLA’s rushing defense bounce back against Oregon? Can Bruin receivers do a better job of catching the ball?

Utah v UCLA
UCLA’s Demetric Felton drops a sure TD versus Utah.
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Welcome to this week’s edition of Pregame Guesses. The UCLA Bruins football team (2-6, 2-3) only has four more regular season games left this season, starting tomorrow against the Oregon Ducks (5-3, 2-3) at Autzen Stadium.

Autzen is always a tough place to play but the Bruins might get a break if the Ducks’ starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, is unable to play due to concussion symptoms. Whoever is under center for the Ducks, he can still hand the ball off against a UCLA defense that could not tackle last week.

UCLA fans are not sure who will start at quarterback either. Either guy is going to need a better performance from the Bruin receiving corps, which suffered from a terrible case of “the drops” against Utah.

Last week, I picked several “instrumental” songs from 80s and 90s bands. 77 posted that his version of an instrumental was something like Vivadli’s “Four Seasons.” This led to a thread about whether classical music could ever be featured in PGGs. Well, after UCLA’s performance last Friday night, the answer became clear in my mind and it is a resounding “yes.”

If you were a child of the 70s and/or are a baseball fan (or a fan of baseball movies), you no doubt recognize this piece:

Yes, it’s Georges Bizet’s “Carmen Habanera” instrumental, first performed in 1875 (making it PGG’s oldest music selection ever) but used a century and one year later in the original 1976 version of “The Bad News Bears.” In the movie, the piece was featured during the Bears’ first league game, as a montage of fielding errors played across the screen. For my generation, it is a song inexorably intertwined with failure and futility.

If I only had the editing skills, I could piece together a similar medley of dropped balls and blown tackles from UCLA’s game against Utah last week.

Will UCLA’s “Carmen” montage continue this week against Oregon? Or will Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” be more appropriate?

We will see....

But first, let’s make some guesses.

There are question marks surrounding the quarterback position of both teams this week. Oregon’s QB, the heralded Justin Herbert, entered the concussion protocol after last week’s loss at Arizona. Herbert practiced on Wednesday but, as of the time of this writing, his status is unknown for Saturday’s game. If Herbert cannot go, will Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal tap sophomore Braxton Burmeister (who has taken some snaps this season) or freshman Tyler Shough (who has not)?

For the Bruins, will it be Wilton Speight or has Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s shoulder area injury improved sufficiently for him to play in a game? Both Speight and Thompson-Robinson have taken snaps in practice this week. UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly is keeping his cards tight to the vest.

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: Who will start for Oregon and UCLA this week at the quarterback position?

After the whooping at the hands of Utah, UCLA is #95 in the country in total defense and #107 in rushing defense, allowing 209.3 yards per game on the ground. The Bruins have tackling issues, which were on full display against Utah.

Oregon, on the other hand is “average” at rushing the football, ranked #60 in the nation with 174.9 yards on the ground per game. Obviously, Oregon’s rushing attack will, in large measure, depend on which QB is under center, so your guess to #1 above might affect your guess here.

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: Predict Oregon’s total rushing yards against UCLA (remember, sacks count as negative rushing yards in college football).

After a horrible display of dropped passes against Utah (Dimitri’s Eye Test counted six, including a sure touchdown by Demetric Felton), UCLA’s receivers hopefully worked on JUGS machine drills this week. Felton, Dymond Lee, Caleb Wilson, and Christian Pabico all dropped at least one pass.

Although it wasn’t a dropped pass, the “slippery fingers disease” even spread to Adarius Pickett, who muffed a punt.

As a group, that is unacceptable. UCLA must get better in this department. Will UCLA receivers help their quarterback in Eugene, or will the drops continue?

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER THREE: How many passes will UCLA players drop against the Ducks?

Thanks for reading and listening this week.

Make your guesses below, or sound off about this week’s musical selection or anything UCLA football-related.

Go Bruins!!!