Boy, what an up and down season this has been for UCLA.
The Bruins are fresh off an "upset" over then-ranked 21st Arizona Wildcats, putting UCLA back in the hunt for a Pac-12 South title. Coach Mora and his team are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, after dropping back to back contests to Utah and Oregon in at the start of October. Brett Hundley and Paul Perkins have pushed to offense to close victories over Cal and Colorado, then it was Myles Jack and the defense coming through vs. the Wildcats last week, holding Arizona to 7 points and 255 yards at the Rose Bowl.
This week, the Bruins jet off to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies in a game that couldn't have the phrase "Trap Game" stamped on it any bigger. U-Dub's defense has scored an NCAA record seven touchdowns this year, with their own two-way star in Shaq Thompson anchoring the Huskies D. Though the defense took a huge hit with the dismissal of CB Marcus Peters earlier this week, Washington is still a threat to put up points on both sides of the ball.
Defense continues off last week's performance
Holding an offense like Arizona's to under 300 yards was a huge step for the UCLA defense, which should bring about a lot of confidence for this team going forward.
This week, the Bruins need to continue off the momentum they created from their win over the Wildcats and keep the Huskies offense down and from moving the ball. Creating pressure on Cyler Miles will be key to set the tone early in the game, whether it be Owa Odighuzuwa on the outside or Jack up the middle. If the Bruins can keep the Huskies for keeping any rhythm on offense, UCLA can dominate this game.
Stop Hau'oli Kikaha...somehow.
Whether it be a giant brick wall, or a toll booth between him and Brett Hundley, UCLA must find a way to keep Hau'oli Kikaha setting up a tent in the Bruins backfield.
The FBS leader in sacks (15.5) has a sack in every contest this year, and the Bruins have had their fair share of troubles in protecting Hundley in the pocket this year. He's going to be brought down this game, I have no doubt of that, but UCLA can't let this contest be a replicate of what happened in the Utah game, where the Utes sacked Hundley ten times in the 30-28 win in early October.
It would be best for the Bruins to set up that toll booth sooner rather than later.
Don't stop feeding Paul Perkins
The Sophomore RB has quietly become one of the best running backs in recent memory for UCLA, rushing for 1,071 yards and 6 touchdowns this season so far, including averaging six yards per touch as well. The biggest concern was how the offense would relive some of the pressure on Hundley to carry the workload, and Perkins has been able to answer the call in a big way.
His vision as a ball-carrier has been huge in breaking off big runs and moving the Bruins down the field on numerous occasions, but this UW rush defense (allowing just 3.4 YPC this year) will be a big test for Perkins and the rest of the UCLA rushing attack. (By this I mean Brett Hundley)
UCLA's offense should be able to outlast the Huskies in Seattle, but it comes down to taking care of the ball and not giving Shaq Thompson and the UW defense any chances to score. I imagine Hundley will able to make smart throws and keep the Bruins above water and still in the hunt for a division title this season. UCLA 28, Washington 17