UCLA at Utah
Friday, Nov. 3
7:30 p.m. MT
Salt Lake City, Utah
October 22, 2016. That’s the day University of Utah’s Joe Williams ran wild in Pasadena, Calif. and rushed for a school-record 332 yards and four touchdowns in his second game back from retirement to help the Utes beat the UCLA Bruins 52-45.
November 3, 2017. That’s the day the Bruins will be in Salt Lake City seeking revenge against the Utes. The last two times UCLA has come into SLC (2013 and 2015), they beat up on the Utes.
This late in the season both teams are going to be locked in on South Division. UCLA has a lot riding on them – including proving their worth in order to be taken seriously. With that on their shoulders, plus coming off a road game at Washington, and playing a potentially cold Friday night game, it’s going to be tough –essentially one of UCLA’s toughest games in Utah in a while.
What can I say about the Bruins’ offense? Well, for starters, the only offensive coach who is returning from last season is tight ends coach Rip Scherer. That’s definitely not a good look if you’re only returning one coach to the offense. To Scherer’s credibility though, he did a good job last season developing the tight ends.
Kennedy Polamalu was let go, Marques Tuiasosopo has left … again, Eric Yarber took off for the Los Angeles Rams and Adrian Klemm won’t be coming back (you probably predicted that though after his suspension for violating NCAA rules).
As the offense continues its rebuilding, process, the university hired Jedd Fisch to be the team’s new offensive coordinator. Coming from Michigan as the QB Coach under Jim Harbaugh, Fisch is known to prefer a pro-style offense. Speaking of pro, Fisch spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars – I’m going to put it out there that the Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the NFL when he was there – that’s not a stat that helps UCLA’s offense one bit.
The offense does feature one of the top passers in the nation though in quarterback Josh Rosen. Rosen’s skill set is perfect for a pro-style offense, so he could perform well in Fisch’s offense. Part of UCLA’s struggles last season were due to Rosen missing time due to injury. Having a great quarterback can mitigate other offensive issues, so while the UCLA offense transitions coaches, again, they at least have one constant they can count on, as long as he stays healthy, in Rosen.
2016 UCLA Offensive Stats:
Total offense: 397.8
Passing offense: 295.58
Rushing offense: 84.3
Scoring offense: 24.92
Remember Marcus Moore? The defensive lineman is someone most people have forgotten about but he’s ready to make a comeback this season. Moore, who is listed at a 6’2” -- 255 pounds is fully recovered from an injury that robbed him out of a freshman season and his senior season in high school. Although Moore still has a lot to prove on the field, there are multiple reports out that Moore has been showing out during Spring Ball.
Another guy the Utes need to watch for on defense is Jaelan Phillips, the 247Sports Composite No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class, who made the Freak List put together Bruce Feldman. Phillips, coming in at 6’5” 255 pounds, already has the size, speed and strength of an NFL player – and he’s only a freshman!
With UCLA losing three defensive linemen, four defensive backs, two linebackers, one offensive lineman, and two wideouts, the Bruins are in a bit of a pickle this year. They lost a lot and have a heavy load of freshman taking on big roles this season. Utah should be able to take this game at home and end their two and oh losing streak to the Bruins on their home field.
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