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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Three ways Arizona wins against UCLA, three ways the Wildcats lose to the Bruins

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File Photo/The Daily Wildcat

Win

Defensive front pressure

In its first five games, No. 19 UCLA rushed for an average of 223.4 yards per game. The Bruins went 5-0during that stretch. In the three games since, their average has decreased to 144, and they lost two of those. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez commented after Tuesday’s practice that UCLA’s offensive line has been the reason for its recent struggles. On top of that, UCLA’s starting running back, Jordan James, is out with an ankle injury. Expect the Wildcats defense to bring pressure in the UCLA backfield.

Contain and Limit

Arizona’s defense has been consistent this season. The top-40 ranked group has had one weakness: big plays early in the game. This has put a strain on a dynamic offense by pressuring it to either play faster and score often, or worse, play from behind, as it did against USC on Oct. 10. If the 11 men on defense can hold UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and his many weapons to fewer than 20 points in the first half, the Wildcats’ offense is good enough to win the game.

Mighty Midgets

Freshman receivers Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips are the real deal. The two receivers, who both stand under 6 feet tall, have been given the nickname “the mighty midgets” by the coaches for their short stature but considerable strength.

While they may not appear dangerous, their ability to get open and make spectacular deep catches have without a doubt been a key to the Wildcats’ passing game so far. Grant leads the team with 33 catches and has proven to be quarterback B.J. Denker’s go-to target, especially for short yardage gains. Phillips leads the team in both receiving yards and touchdowns.

Phillips has made a number of impressive catches, which have led to big gains.

Saturday the mighty midgets will nce again be one of the most important pieces in the Arizona offense.

—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

Lose

It’s in the numbers

The UCLA Bruins are ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll. That means something.

In their second game of the season, they rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat No. 23 Nebraska.

The Bruins are resilient and they mean business. Their only two losses of the season have come from the Pac-12 big dogs: Oregon and Stanford. After those back-to-back losses, UCLA came back and beat Colorado, regaining its winning momentum. It’s surely not going to let up in Tucson. At the end of the day, the Bruins are just a better team.

Under pressure

In any game, there’s always the chance a team will choke. And in this game, Arizona is no exception.

This is the first home game for the Wildcats since mid-October. It’s Homecoming. It’s being shown on ESPN. It’s against a No. 16 team. It’s a late game.

There is a lot riding on this game. Alumni come from all over the country to watch, and they don’t want to leave upset. Furthermore, beating a ranked team could actually give Arizona a name in the football world.

Needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on senior quarterback B.J. Denker, as this is arguably the most high profile game he’s playing in so far.

There will be a lot of pressure on junior running back Ka’Deem Carey as well. For alumni from out of state, this could be the one chance they get to see the famous Carey do his thing — not to mention, playing on a national stage and being broadcast on ESPN could get him a lot of love in the postseason awards race.

The Wildcats have a fighting chance in this one, but if they cave to the pressure, it’s over.

Not so fast

Who will the UCLA defense focus on this Saturday? Ka’Deem Carey.

Last year, UCLA held Carey to a mere 54 yards. Of course, it’s aiming to do the same this year.

Arizona’s offense isn’t completely hopeless without Carey. Sure, Denker has improved significantly in the last couple games, but would relying on throwing the ball be enough?

If the Bruins’ defense can stop Carey, then UCLA will take the W.

—Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani

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