Back Prolific UCLA to Cover vs Sluggish Colorado

UCLA Bruins

Rainman M.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 2:52 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2017 2:52 PM GMT

UCLA's offense relies especially on its quarterback, Josh Rosen. Rosen is a prolific athlete who is averaging over 400 passing yards per game, while Colorado is struggling to get cohesion on their offense.

 

UCLA (2-2) hosts Colorado (3-1) this Saturday at 10:30 PM ET. UCLA is favored by 7 points. The game total opened at 66.5, but currently sits at 68.5.

UCLA's offense relies especially on its quarterback, Josh Rosen. Rosen is a prolific athlete who is averaging over 400 passing yards per game. His mechanical soundness enables him to release the ball quickly. He achieves a soft touch on his passes with precise placement and fits passes with high velocity into tight windows.

This season, UCLA has progressed from being 126th last season with 2.9 rush yards per carry to being 41st this season with 4.8 yards per carry. Soso Jamabo leads UCLA's running backs thanks to his strength, physicality, and intelligence with reading blocks.

Rosen has improved his completion % from 59 last season to 65 this season largely due to improvement from his wide receivers. UCLA returns its two top receivers from last year, Darren Andrews and Jordan Lasley. Both utilize their quick feet to create separation in the shorter passing game, while Lasley also possesses breakaway speed that gives him big-play ability.

UCLA's offensive line has improved significantly from last season. The offensive scheme is different. Left tackle Kolton MIller is healthy. Scott Quessenberry is now in his second year transitioning from guard to center. Right tackle Sunny Odogwu arrived as a graduate transfer from Miami. UCLA's offensive line is deeper, healthier, fundamentally more sound, and more talented.

UCLA's protection should be secured by Colorado's regression at defensive line. The Buffaloes are slowly building a solid defensive line for its 3-4 defense. But, they lost three NFL-caliber defensive linemen and have struggled with depth at the position due to health and team discipline issues. 

Colorado's run defense redeems itself somewhat with a very experienced and talented linebacking corps, led by its communicative leader Rick Gamboa, the solidly strong Derek McCartney, who will challenge UCLA's blockers, and the speedy and athletic transfer from Washington, Drew Lewis.

Colorado's secondary lost three starters to the NFL. Currently, Isaiah Oliver is a shutdown-capable cornerback who possesses the speed and agility to keep up with any wide receiver. But, there is little proven talent outside of Oliver.

Rosen will be tested when throwing in Oliver's direction, but also has an adequate rush attack and other wide receivers at his disposal.

Rosen's counterpart for Colorado, Steve Montez, is a talented sophomore with a live arm who is very capable in the vertical passing game. But, he is still very prone to interceptions and has already thrown 6 this years.

If he can get the ball to his receivers, they have plenty of talent. Shay Fields and Devin Ross utilize their speed and elusiveness to create big plays while Bryce Bobo showcases his physicality.

Phillip Lindsay is a reliable back whose speed and physicality are respectable, but not game-changing. He is not the physically most imposing back and his max-effort strategy leads his yards per carry to regress towards the end of the game.

Colorado's offensive line has undergone adjustments and is struggling to play with cohesion or quality. Their coaches have already called them out on their lack of physicality, yet they have not shown any improvement.

UCLA's run defense received a wake-up call last week against Stanford.  They got gashed in the first three quarters against Texas A&M in week 1, played well against Memphis' quality running backs (besides giving up an 80 yard run), but then were gashed again by Stanford superstar Bryce Love for 263 yards.

Look for a resurgent performance against a much weaker rush attack. Top recruit defensive end Jaelen Phillips swore vengeance after last week's debacle and, with his superior physicality and technique, his lethalness in pursuit and pervasiveness in the backfield, has the talent to lead UCLA's rush attack to an improved performance.

UCLA's pass and rush defense have absolutely suffered from injuries, such as in linebacker Kenny Young and safety Jaleel Wadood. Young is a versatile athlete who can help in pass coverage but also create havoc in the backfield. Wadood is arguably the Pac-12's top defensive back and provides senior leadership behind 5-star recruit Darnay Holmes, who is already making an instant impact as a starting cornerback. UCLA is statistically a top-40 pass defense and can be even better if the likes of Wadood can stay on the field.

 

The Verdict

Colorado lacks the big-play ability that UCLA does. Unlike Rosen, who hasn't gotten intercepted at home since October of 2015, Montez's poor decision-making ability is undermining his big-play potential. UCLA boasts a more balanced attack than last year, due to a talented running game behind a vastly improved offensive line. UCLA will be extra motivated on defense and has the tools, when healthy, to contain an underachieving Colorado offense on our NCAAF Picks.

Free NCAAF Pick: UCLA -6.5Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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