Scouting Report: UCLA vs. Oklahoma
UCLA football will face off against a top-five Oklahoma squad for the second year in a row, this time at the Rose Bowl. Coach Chip Kelly will go head-to-head with the Sooners shot-caller, Lincoln Riley, who led his team to College Football Playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)
By Jack Perez
Sept. 13, 2019 4:43 p.m.
After starting the year 0-2 for the second consecutive year, UCLA football (0-2) once again faces No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0) at home. After losing on the road to the Sooners 49-21 in 2018, the Bruins will have to slow down their opponent’s high-powered offense if they want to pull off a stunning upset. Here is this week’s scouting report by Daily Bruin staff writer Jack Perez.
Base formations: Spread, Air Raid
Run-pass percentage: 58.5% run, 41.5% pass
X-factor: QB Jalen Hurts
This will undoubtedly be the best offense the Bruins face all year.
Since coach Lincoln Riley took over in 2017, the Sooners have had two Heisman-winning quarterbacks and consecutive College Football Playoff trips. If the offense continues on the same path, they could make it three-for-three in both categories.
The biggest factor is Hurts. The transfer from Alabama did not impress too much with the Tide, despite his 26-2 record as a starter. However, he has shown big improvements under Riley, with 591 yards through the air and six touchdown passes in two games.
Hurts also leads the Sooners in rushing attempts and yards. He has 223 rushing yards on 24 carries, with all three of his rushing touchdowns coming in Oklahoma’s win over Houston in week one.
Last week, the Bruins faced Ryan Agnew, San Diego State’s dual-threat quarterback, and allowed 293 yards passing but held him to 18 yards rushing.
The Sooners have multiple threats across the offense that can provide Hurts with the firepower to overwhelm opposing defenses. Wide receivers Ceedee Lamb, Jadon Haselwood and Charleston Rambo each have over 120 yards receiving and are averaging at least 20 yards per game, giving Hurts ample deep threats to fit his play style.
The Bruins should just try to limit the Sooners as much as possible, as this offense will score a lot of points on any defense in the nation. The question is just how high that total will be at the Rose Bowl.
Base defense: Speed D (4-2-5 or 3-3-5)
Blitz tendency: Medium
Strength: New DC
Weakness: Overcoming recent history
X-factor: LB Kenneth Murray
Oklahoma has an improved defense over last year, but they are still a long way away from being considered among the nation’s elite.
New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch – who turned around and revamped Washington State’s defense from 2014-17 – has implemented his signature speed defense in order to emphasize getting into the backfield and stop plays before they begin to develop.
This system helps the Sooners get tackles for loss and sacks more consistently without having to send extra rushers. The defense has 16 tackles for loss and five sacks for a combined loss of 80 yards so far in 2019.
Murray has taken advantage of the scheme change to become the unit’s leader and has slowed both offenses that the Sooners have faced. The junior has 17 tackles, three of them coming behind the line of scrimmage.
The downside to the Sooners’ defense is they are still building an identity. Coming off a year where the team was near the bottom of the country in scoring defense, Grinch has to make sure his players do not fall back into the bad habits that plagued them in 2018.
The Bruins’ offense has struggled so far this season, but they have faced two of the better defenses in the nation, especially on the ground. UCLA will have to take advantage of Oklahoma’s defense in order to even try to pull off the upset, but they need to keep sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s jersey clean to do so.