Knowing what’s to come and how to stop it are two different things, and something UCLA (1-1) will face when it boards a plane on Friday to take on No. 11 ranked Oregon ( 2-0) in a nationally televised game at 12:30 p.m., on ESPN2.
There are a lot of similarities in Bruins and Ducks’ attack and that starts with having versatile quarterbacks. The Bruins have junior Dorian Thompson Robinson’s run-and-pass threat, and the Ducks have Tyler Shough, a six-foot sophomore who can do it all.
Their numbers in two games mirror each other.
Thompson-Robinson has completed 34 of the 66 passes for 499 yards and seven touchdowns, and has rushed 21 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Shough has completed 38 of 56 passes for 539 yards and five touchdowns, and has also rushed 20 times for 166 yards and touchdown.
Both QBs have thrown two picks, and Thompson-Robinson has a fumble too.
But the similarities don’t end here.
What makes Oregon’s offense especially difficult to defend is how well he lets the ball run, which is exactly what the Bruins are consistently pursuing as well.
Oregon’s CJ Verdell is the main weapon of the backfield Ducks, but they have three players over 100 yards who rush through two games and average 269 yards on the ground.
UCLA showed that balance in Sunday’s victory over Cal, rushing 54 times for 244 yards, led by the one-two punch from Demetrius Felton (25 rushes for 109 yards) and Brittain Brown (12 rushes for 71 yards).
But Oregon is ranked No. 11 in the country and prefers to eventually win everything in the Pac-12 for a reason, the Ducks do what they do better and more consistently than the Bruins.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly knows this all too well, and while his defense should be better prepared because in practice he has gone against the Bruins onslaught every day, it is not the Ducks onslaught.
Kelly described what to do with reporters on a conference call this week, and while Shough will be a handful, there’s so much more to it.
“Tyler did a really good job,” Kelly said. “It’s clear they are doing some new things with a new coordinator (Joe Morehead) in case of violation. And with (Oregon head coach Mario) Cristobal there, you know they will always run the ball and run the football effectively.
“But the added dimension is that every time you run into a team with a running quarterback, it actually creates an extra hole for the defense to defend. So we really have to be healthy in our assignments when we attack a team like this. You can’t have two people on the running back and one the quarterback. ”
In other words, the Bruins’ defense, which has looked day and night from their loss in the first game against Colorado (48-42) to last week’s win over Cal, has to be even more on their line on Saturday because you never know what’s coming. with the attack of the ducks, and it comes quickly.
“You really have to treat it like option football, allotment football,” Kelly said of defending Oregon. ‘Someone is diving. Someone has the option, and then they do really well with their RPO game (run-pass option).
So you could have someone on the dive and someone on the quarterback, and then the quarterback throws the ball. You have to go through all three stages when you are in front of a team like this. ”
CAN UCLA BE ABLE TO SEE OPPOSITION FOR NON-CONFERENCE?
UCLA will have three conference games and a plus-one Pac-12 game scheduled after Saturday’s game, but now that the coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the country and forcing the cancellation or postponement of college football games, how versatile and prepared would be must be. the Bruins are to change course at short notice, even against non-conference opponents when there are no Pac-12 opponents to replace a cancellation on the schedule.
It can happen. Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group reported Thursday that the Pac-12 has approved non-conference replacements if necessary.
Kelly was asked on Wednesday what he thought about facing non-conference teams if that scenario became a reality.
“As long as the testing protocols are the same,” said Kelly. “I think one of the reasons we went to conference games was because we were guaranteed that they would have the same testing protocols. But I imagine most of the opponents we could play if they had the same testing protocols, yes, that’s what I would be for. Again, as long as it is a safe environment, that is the deciding factor. ”
UCLA has already changed course once.
When Cal’s game against Arizona State was canceled last week because some ASU players and coach Herm Edwards tested positive for the coronavirus and UCLA’s opponent, Utah, was forced to cancel for the second week in a row for the same reasons, UCLA and Cal quickly joined. brought together. and played less than 48 hours after the announcement.