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UCLA Football Stanford Preview: UCLA Must Establish The Run Against The Stanford Defense

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A look at the defense of the Stanford Cardinal before the UCLA Bruins take them on at the Stanford Stadium on tonight.

The key to beating the Stanford defense is moving the ball on the ground.
The key to beating the Stanford defense is moving the ball on the ground.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Despite returning only two starters from last season, the Stanford defense is still ranked 28th nationally, allowing an average of 328 yards per game. So, expect the Stanford defense to make it difficult for UCLA to move the ball tonight.

Stanford runs a 3-4 scheme and is led by the "Willie Shaw Director of Defense" Lance Anderson. Let's look at the position groups.

Defensive Line

The defensive line is anchored by Junior DE Aziz Shittu who leads the defensive linemen with 20 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss so far this season. The other defensive end is redshirt senior Brennan Scarlett. In the middle, look for redshirt freshman Solomon Thomas who is a Phil Steele All-Pac 12 preseason third team pick. Redshirt junior Jordan Watkins will also see time as part of the defensive line rotation.

Linebackers

On the outside, Stanford will feature two underclassmen. They are Peter Kalambayi who has 28 tackles so far this year and Joey Alfieri who has 19 tackles so far. The inside linebackers are redshirt junior Blake Martiinez who is the team's leading tackler with 63 already this year and redshirt sophomore Kevin Palma who has made 16 tackles so far.

Secondary

The secondary is led by redshirt senior Ronnie Harris at cornerback. At the other corner is redshirt freshman Alijah Holder. Free safety Kodi Whitfield leads the DBs with 23 tackles so far this season and strong safety Dallas Lloyd is right behind with 22 tackles. Redshirt freshman Terrence Alexander will sub in as the nickel back on passing downs.

I believe that the key to this game for UCLA will be getting to get the ground game moving. Stanford has given up more than 100 yards rushing only once this year and it was their loss to Northwestern. If the UCLA offensive line can open up holes for Paul Perkins then the Stanford defense looks beatable, but, if UCLA falls behind and needs to rely on throwing the ball, the Cardinal may hand the Bruins their second loss of the season.

Go Bruins!!!