Friday, November 30, 2012
Pac-12: Who will transform tomorrow?
By Kevin Gemmell
Fourteen weeks ago, the UCLA offensive line was young. Fourteen weeks ago, it was inexperienced. But it's time to grow up. And if the Bruins want to return to their home field for a BCS bowl game with the Pac-12 title in tow, they are going to have to play better tonight against Stanford than they did six days ago.
And not just physically, but mentally. The UCLA offensive line accounted for five of the 12 penalties and 45 of the 135 yards.
Of course, we'll first give credit where credit is due. Stanford's front seven -- even without nose tackle Terrence Stephens for the second consecutive week -- is filthy good.
Last week the Cardinal held UCLA to 73 rushing yards on 33 attempts and had seven sacks. Per the ESPN Stats & Information folks, the last time UCLA had been sacked more than six times in a game was in October 2008 (also against Stanford).
In last Saturday's 35-17 loss, the Cardinal forced Johnathan Franklin inside the tackles on 17 of his 21 attempts; they held him to just 48 yards (2.8 average) with no touchdowns or runs for more than 10 yards on those carries.
Further, Stanford did most of its damage with just its base defense, sending four or fewer rushers 84.8 percent of the time. And when they did blitz, the Cardinal were highly effective. Seven times the Cardinal blitzed Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley when he dropped back; he was just 1 of 7 against the blitz. The one happened to be his touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria.
Yes, this has turned into a post about just how good Stanford's defense is. And it illustrates how the UCLA offensive line will have to transform from last week to this week to give the Bruins a shot at the Pac-12 title.