In its Pac-12 home opener, UCLA football (1-4, 1-1 Pac-12) will return to the Rose Bowl to face Oregon State (1-3, 0-1). The Bruins are opening as the favorites for the second time at home, but the Beavers have the chance to send them to 0-3 at home in 2019. Here is this week’s scouting report by Daily Bruin staff writer Jack Perez – who watched Khalil Tate highlights for over two hours just to watch him stand on the sidelines last week.
Oregon State’s offense
Base formations: Spread
Run-pass percentage: 49.7% run, 50.3% pass
Strength: Protecting the ball
X-factor: RBs Artavis Pierce and Jermar Jefferson
The Beavers have a very balanced attack that could lead to them taking home their first Pac-12 win since last October.
Three years ago, a freshman Pierce rolled into the Rose Bowl with Oregon State and led the Beavers’ rushing attack with 74 yards on 18 rushing attempts, but the Bruins came out on top 38-24.
Now a senior, Pierce leads a two-headed ground game with Jefferson. The two have combined for 657 yards on the ground – over 70% of the team’s rushing yards this season – and are the main cogs in the nation’s 31st-best rushing offense.
Quarterback Jake Luton and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins are the main threats in the passing unit. Luton is 82-of-135 with 1,012 yards through the air in 2019. Although his completion percentage is only 60.7%, he has only one interception through four starts, which is the lone turnover the Beavers have coughed up.
Hodgins has been the go-to guy for Luton, as he leads the Beavers with 509 receiving yards on 33 catches with six touchdowns. He has accounted for two-thirds of Oregon State’s touchdown receptions, averaging 127 yards per game.
While these playmakers could lead the Beavers to an upset victory, if any of them are shut down, the game will shift dramatically. No other player has more than 12 receptions or 14 carries and their backup quarterback Tristan Gebbia has only thrown 12 passes in his collegiate career.
If the Bruins are able to keep the Beavers’ offense off the field and contain their top weapons, they should be able to come out with their first home win of the year. Keep in mind, however, that the Bruins have the 127th ranked defense in the country.
Oregon State’s defense
Base defense: 3-4
Blitz tendency: Medium
Strength: Don’t allow many rushing TDs
Weakness: Basically everything else
X-factor: LB Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
The defense had a poor year last year and have not fared much better in 2019.
The Beavers have the 99th-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed per game with their opponents accumulating 427.8 yards on average.
One of the lone bright spots has been the defense’s ability to keep opposing rushers out of the end zone. The Beavers have allowed just four rushing touchdowns this year, all of which came in their opener against Oklahoma State.
However, the Beavers’ passing and rushing yards allowed per game are not ideal, as they rank 87th and 101st in those two categories, respectively.
Rashed’s impact can flip the momentum in the Beavers’ favor. The redshirt junior has five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss this season, and he could take advantage of a UCLA offensive line that has given up 2.4 sacks per game – good for 88th in the FBS.
The Bruins should be able to gain yards and protect the ball against the Beavers’ defense. If the visitors bend without breaking, however, then coach Chip Kelly will have to get creative to punch the ball into the end zone and lead his team to a win.