This Saturday at 4 pm, UCLA comes to town, licking their wounds after being manhandled by Stanford, and, as they say, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded bear. On paper it would seem that the Ducks are way over-matched on the lines, with the DBs and that UCLA should win the war of the trenches.
But that’s on paper.
I mean, let’s consider that the Bruins’ O-line averages 308 pounds to the Ducks D line, which averages only 285 pounds, but has two that can reach the 300 mark (Wade Keliikipi and Ricky Havili-Heimuli both go just over 3 bills). On the other side of the ball, Oregon’s O-line averages 293 pounds to UCLA’s 300 pound average weight with their three interior defenders. Taken together, it all seems like the Ducks should suffer their first loss of the year.
Again, that’s on paper.
Now consider this, UCLA beat Utah by only a touchdown and, had it not been for six interceptions, the Utes could very well have come away with the victory. Yes, these are the same Utes that beat Stanford and then were embarrassed last week by Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey’s 236 yards on the ground. Additionally, if we look at the Stanford win, UCLA had only 1.5 tackles for loss, no sacks and allowed 192 yards rushing (Tyler Gaffney accounting for 171 of that).
Since a lot of what UCLA does on offense is similar to Oregon, let’s take a look at what is different — the defense. The Ducks run that hybrid 4-3/3-4 scheme and the Bruins run a 3-4 scheme. That means that UCLA only has three down linemen on defense and four linebackers that can either play up on the line or fall back into coverage.
In the above video screen shot, UCLA is correctly anticipating that Gaffney will run up the middle, so the outside linebackers (in light blue circles are there to contain the runner and keep him in the middle. The two wide outs will each take a man and the safety in the red circle will fall back. The inside linebackers, in dark blue circles, will close the gaps. The safety, in the white circle, can either help with the wide out if it’s a fake run or assist with gap play. None of Oregon’s RBs have any problem running off tackle.
Here, above, we have the corner and outside linebacker cheating on the line to contain that side and force Gaffney to the right, the inside linebackers, meanwhile, shoot the gaps in hopes of a tackle for a loss. Mariota will recognize this for what it is and with the Ducks’ speed, as we have seen in the past, Mariota might send it down field to Huff on the outside or maybe Addison on the other side, since it will be one-on-one coverage.
In this photo from the Stanford game, UCLA knows it is going to be a pass and still the wide out (in the red circle) gets behind the outside linebacker, Barr (in the light blue circle) who doesn’t really move. The QB hit the receiver at the red X and the DB tackled him right at the first down line. The Ducks’ Mariota knows to hit his man just as he is about to turn, so that the receiver can split the DBs and pick up a big gain or even a TD.
I watched this game closely last week and, personally, I was not really impressed with either team. I thought it was like two heavy weight boxers never getting out of the feeling-each-other-out stage. Both teams looked rather lethargic and uninspired. If UCLA comes to Eugene with the same game intensity as what they played against Stanford, the Ducks are going to shut them down and have a field day in both the air and on the ground, and that is assuming DAT doesn’t play (he says he’ll play).
I am looking, based on what I’ve seen this year from UCLA, at the prospect that UCLA is going to be embarrassed and that’s too bad, because they’ll fall like a rock in the rankings. Ducks 58 – Bruins 24.
Bob Laws, Flagstaff, AZ