On the road for the second week in a row, the Utah Utes travel to the Rose Bowl this week to take on the UCLA Bruins. Both teams in a fierce battle against injuries it could be a fight based on who has more depth. Here are three keys to lead the Utes to their seventh win.
1. Stop the Bruins throw game
It is unclear whether the Bruins sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, will start or even play this week but Utah is preparing for the possibility. Rosen, who has struggled with shoulder and leg injuries, has still managed to complete sixty percent of his passes and sits at sixteenth in the nation with 1,915 passing yards. So far as an offensive unit this season UCLA has averaged over 300 yards in the air per game and this matchup could prove challenging in the passing game for the Utes defense as they have allowed over 200 passing yards per game. As for the run game, the Utes should have no problem putting up a strong stop with both quarterbacks at negative total yards for the season and an average of less than 100 total running yards per game. The focus for the Utah defense has to be on preventing UCLA from passing and keeping the game on the ground.
2. Focus on the task
This may seem like an obvious key to beating the Bruins but for the first time since the Utes have joined the PAC12 this UCLA team looks more beatable than ever. The Bruins are coming off of two losses in a row against Arizona State and Washington State and at this point have nothing to lose as they rest in the bottom half of the PAC12 south division standings. Even with an overall record of 3-4 and all of the problems that UCLA has had so far this season, if the Utes have learned anything in their tenure in the PAC12 it is that no matter the standings or previous records any week could prove to be a challenge. With the Bruins feeling at the end of their rope it is up to the Utes to leave it all out on the field.
3. More ground game on offense
Not only does UCLA play exceptional on offense through the air, the Bruins have also managed to control the passing game on defense. The Bruins lead the PAC 12 in passing defense efficiency and just last week limited Washington State quarterback Luke Falk to zero touchdowns. It’s no surprise that with all of the injuries the Utes have had at running back this season, that the offense has nearly split the throw game and ground game with just over 1,500 yards a piece. This week will most likely prove to be a challenge in the passing game for the Utes and they will need to rely on feeding the ball to running back Joe Williams.
Despite being on the road and not having home field advantage I think the Utes are more than capable of handling UCLA this week. If the Utes want to get it done they have to win the passing game on both sides of the ball against this beaten down Bruins team that has nothing to lose.