The Chosen One has led the Bruins to the 25th spot in the AP poll but, the Bruins will travel to Memphis in their first true road test of the season.
Bruins fans have started to become cautiously optimistic about this year’s team. Josh Rosen has looked like the best quarterback in the nation, all of the offensive skill position players have impressed besides the running backs, and the defense has looked serviceable thus far. The adversity that the team will face on the road will be a good indicator of how good they are.
The Memphis Tigers are not slouches. They could surprise the Bruins if they do not treat this team with the respect that they will require. The Memphis offense returns their starting quarterback, Riley Ferguson, and two stud running backs that can gash a defense for 300 yards between the two.
Patrick Taylor, Jr. and Darrell Henderson ran for over 300 yards against an admittedly poor UL Monroe defense. UCLA gave up 383 rushing yards to Texas A&M and 281 to Hawaii. This cannot persist if the Bruins want to win the Pac-12. The defensive line has shown slow but gradual improvements as well. Only one sack against Hawaii is incredibly poor but helping stop the run will be their main goal this week. Luckily for them, Memphis’ offensive line is their weakness on offense and they should be able to run wild on Saturday. If the Bruins can hold Memphis to under 200 yards rushing then it would be considered a success, not great but a success.
As for the offense, there really isn’t a way to improve after dropping 56 and 46 points in back-to-back weeks. Rosen threw more touchdowns than incompletions, that is literally all you need to know about how the Hawaii game went. UCLA ran the ball 26 times for 132 yards last week, which is a success and shows that they are still trying to have a balanced offensive attack. I will ask the question that I will continue to ask until I get a definitive answer, can the Bruins consistently run the ball?
Memphis’ defense is not the strength of their team and can be picked apart by Rosen. Jedd Fisch needs to continue to keep the Ball in Rosen’s hands and continue to release the beast that is Theo Howard. All of Bruins Nation knew that Howard was a great talent. It only took a year and two weeks for the coaching staff to notice but he’s here.
The offense is firing on all cylinders and Memphis won’t have any answers for Rosen and company. The Bruins will take an early lead and not give it as they cruise to a 41-21 victory.