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UCLA Football Preview: Can the Bruins Stop Bryce Love?

Which Bruins defense will show up on Saturday against Stanford?

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins will host the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday afternoon on Senior Day. The Cardinal do not have an offense that’ll blow their opponent out of the water, but they can still move the ball downfield. Also, Stanford has absolutely owned the Bruins the last few seasons. A win over Southern Cal AND Stanford would be a huge building block towards the future success of head coach Chip Kelly and the Bruins, Here’s how the Cardinal stack up offensively.

Offensive Line

The offensive line has been their forte over the last few seasons, but they’ve taken a small step back this season. The Stanford Cardinal will have Jesse Burkett at center with Brandon Fanaika and Walker Little holding down the left side while Devery Hamilton and A.T. Hall patrol the right side of the line. This unit for the Cardinal has surrendered 18 sacks so far this season which is good for 44th in the nation. UCLA’s defensive front will have their hands full with the front five of Stanford. It will be imperative for the Bruins to get a push on the defensive end to try and contain stud running back Bryce Love.

Quarterback

Junior K.J. Costello will be under center for the Cardinal when they face UCLA on Saturday. For the season, he’s thrown for 2854 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while averaging 8.65 yards per attempt. Costello has had himself a very solid year, considering the fact that Bryce Love has been dealing with injuries all season. Last season against the Bruins, he completed 13-of-19 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 58-34 victory. Of course, he did. However, in road games this season, he’s only thrown for seven touchdowns while throwing four interceptions. The Bruins’ defense gives up an average of 236.5 passing yards per game. So, it would not be any surprise to see Costello take some shots downfield.

Running Backs

Bryce Love. He is very good at football if you have not heard. Although he’s having a down year, it’s hard to blame Love. He’s missed two games due to injury and the regression of the offensive line has really hurt him offensively. He’s rushed for only 580 yards and five scores this season after rushing for 2118 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. This season, he’s averaging a modest 4.8 yards per carry, compared to 8.1 last season. Let’s not forget that he KILLED the Bruins last season when he ran for 263 yards and a score. Although he’s having a down season, he’s not someone the Bruins defense will want to take lightly. He loves playing against the Bruins.

The Bruins should also expect Trevor Speights and Cameron Scarlett to get some burn as well. Speights has ran for 217 yards and one score this season while Scarlett has turned 49 carries into five touchdowns. UCLA’s defensive unit is giving up 206.1 rushing yards per game and stopping the run will certainly be an emphasis during practice this week.

Wide Receivers

JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a monster, but we already knew this. He’s burst onto the scene this season by catching 48 balls for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is nearly impossible to defend and, even though he’s 6’3”, he plays much bigger than that. He’s K.J. Costello’s favorite target and the Bruins should expect to see Arcega-Whiteside targeted early and often.

While Trenton Irwin isn’t the biggest deep threat, he’s been very consistent between the numbers this season for Stanford. He’s caught 52 passes for 572 yards and one touchdown. He averages 11 yards per catch and is ultra-reliable since he seldom drops passes. Kaden Smith is another wideout to keep an eye on. He’s caught 47 passes for 635 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging 13.5 yards per catch and can blow by defensive backs with his blazing speed. These Stanford wide receivers are as sure-handed as they come.

Analysis

The Cardinal average 394.6 yards per game and put up 28.3 points per game. Typically, their defense is their strong suit and their offense is their weakest link. However, it’s been totally different this season. Stanford’s offense has actually been pretty solid, while their defense has underperformed. This isn’t the Bruins’ toughest test defensively, but their discipline defensively will surely be put to the test on Saturday afternoon.


Go Bruins!