UCLA football prepares for a home game with struggling Arizona
The Bruins will once again be tasked with defending their home ground on Saturday, giving them another chance to beat the underdog conference opponent.
UCLA’s 12th football (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) will face Arizona (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) in the Rose Bowl for more “Pac-12 After Dark” action, entering its third game on Straight as a favorite double-digit game. Games of this stature haven’t been a problem for the Bruins lately, considering they’ve beaten Stanford and Arizona State and have now won 17 in a row against teams that finished the year .500 or worse dating back to the middle of the year. 2019 campaign.
Arizona will fall into that bucket with another loss, which seems likely to take into account its track record over the past few years. The Wildcats have been at 2-26 against the Power Five teams since Week 7 of 2019, and that doesn’t even include their non-conference losses to BYU, San Diego State and the FCS program Northern Arizona for the 2021 opener.
While Arizona started 2022 with a 3-2 record, its only Pac-12 win came at home against 1-8 Colorado, and they have lost four consecutive times since.
Head coach Chip Kelly’s side has beaten the Wildcats in consecutive years, as well as winning five consecutive years against them in the Rose Bowl. However, Kelly is not willing to overlook quarterback Jayden DeLaura and his weapons, led by Arizona coach Jade Fish – the offensive coordinator at UCLA in 2017 who technically handed the keys to Kelly after a short stint as interim coach at Westwood.
“Really explosive Arizona is on the offensive side of the ball, that’s clearly their strength,” Kelly said. “(De Laura) gunslinger, I think he’s pretty tough on it. He’s got to run, he’s got to keep playing, and he’s not afraid to throw the ball in there. And they have some receivers that’ll do that. Go get it, so their passing attack is who gets the most attention.”
De Laura is certainly a gunslinger, having attempted 137 more passes than UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson so far this season. While it did throw Washington State’s transfer for second yards in the conference with 2,813 yards, it was also credited with the Wildcats turning the ball more often than any other Pac-12 school outside of Colorado and Stanford — both of whom have already outpaced the Bruins this year. season.
On the other hand, Thompson-Robinson has half as many interceptions as De Laura this year with four, and opposing offenses rarely award additional possessions.
The veteran signal caller also downplayed the failures that haunt him as an underclass, even amid frequent scrambling, sprinting, and hurdles. Whether it was Arizona deploying to defend the area or a spy to try to limit his double-threat capability, Thompson Robinson was confident he would be able to contribute regardless.
“I know there have been teams in the past that have contributed to the pass and sprint game, but I haven’t thought until now that it works well for people,” said Thompson Robinson.
Scroll to continue
It remains to be seen how much help Thompson-Robinson has on the ground, given how messy Bruins’ appearances have been over the past week.
Zach Charbonnet, who still leads the Pac 12 in dash yards and total yards of melee despite missing two of his nine games at UCSD, was ruled out of the team’s win over Arizona State a week ago. Charbonnet was fit to train this week, but his situation is still in the air.
The same can be said for Keegan Jones, T.J. Harden and Deshaun Morrell, who all have had their own bumps and bruises and have been on and off the field lately. Jones rushed for a high-level 98 yards in 12 attempts against the Sun Devils, while Harden grabbed a single hand bag for 4 yards.
Even receiver Kazmeir Allen, who returned to his old position at the last second to lead UCLA by 137 yards against Arizona State, had a big chunk of that game.
The only Grant player outside of those five who could take some load is quarterback—turned receiver—turned-back Colson Jankoff, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound powerhouse, rushing 48 yards on six carriers—plus a touchdown. Seal in the fourth quarter – against the demons of the sun.
Regardless of who is out there, UCLA is expected to hit the rock again. After all, the Bruins hit 402 yards and 50 total points without the Charbonnet at Tempe.
Kelly also moved sixth-year center Sam Marazzo to a tight finish during the team’s final farewell week, having him serve as an extra hurdle in certain running-based groups. But that didn’t stop Marrazzo from crossing his fingers for a chance at a passing game against Arizona.
“I upset every coach who would listen to me,” said Marazzo. “I’m going to put on pitchers, I’m going to do whatever it takes, I’m going to fade, I’m going to–whatever it takes to not drop it, because that would be terrible. The only pass I get, am I falling? No.”
Marrazzo, Thompson-Robinson, and the Bruins will start against the Wildcats Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The final match will be broadcast before UCLA’s crosstown rivalry match with USC on FOX.
Read more UCSD stories: UCLA Bruins on Sports Illustrated
Read more UCSD Football Stories: UCLA Football on Sports Illustrated
#UCLA #football #prepares #home #game #struggling #Arizona