October 4, 2006

UCLA Preview: Offense

One of the better wins in recent Arizona memory is last season's 52-14 victory over an undefeated UCLA team. While UCLA may not be as strong offensively as it waslast season, there is still some obvious talent on the team.

Although the player that has been hyped the most is quarterback Ben Olson, the offense really revolves around running back Chris Markey.

Markey currently ranks second in the conference and 13 th in the country with an average of 113 rushing yards per game. He is also third in the conference in all-purpose yards with an average 133.75 yards per game.

Markey is not necessarily a guy that is going to carry the offense on his back but his 6.6 yard average per carry helps UCLA maintain a very balanced offense.

The one knock on Markey is that he has been slightly inconsistent. In the opening game against Utah he finished with 92 yards on nine rushes but then came back with 208 yards against Rice. He followed that up with a strong 124 yard game against Washington but was held in check by Stanford, as he gained 88 yards on 18 carries.

While UCLA has had a potent running game, Markey is not the only player that they have relied on.

Khalil Bell has 50 attempts for 230 yards on the season. However, the majority of those yards came against Rice, though he did have a strong game against Stanford.

Both running backs are truly key to the success of the Bruin offense, especially when one takes into account the way that the UCLA passing game has been playing.

Olson came into UCLA with similar hype that he had when he was the top rated player in the nation. However, the questions about whether or not he would be able to come back from his mission and adjust after not having played football for some time have yet to be answered.

Thus far this season he has passed for 796 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions. He is averaging a little over six yards an attempt and only 200 yards a game.

The key with Olson is the difference between the way he plays at home and on the road. In the first game of the season he had 318 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. In the following game against Rice, another home game, he finished 13-19 for 124 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

On the road against Washington , he failed to throw a touchdown but did throw two interceptions.

In the last game against Stanford, he completed 20 of 37 passes for 219 yards. He completed passes to eight different receivers and had passes of at least 20 yards to three different receivers.

However, he once again failed to throw a touchdown but did throw two interceptions.

While Olson has been more successful at home, his game against Stanford proves that he is still not comfortable. UCLA's offense would be much more dangerous if he was, but the fact remains that he has left a lot to be desired.

Olson has been forced into throwing interceptions through pressure from the opposing defense. Expect Arizona to show Olson different schemes in order to confuse him and make an attempt on pressuring him.

Since Olson likes to spread the ball, there really is not a dominant receiver on the team. Olson's main target thus far is tight end Logan Paulsen. Paulsen has 10 catches for 144 yards but has yet to reach the end zone.

While he leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, the majority of both came in only two games.

In his first career start, he had five receptions for 90 yards. Against Stanford he had 4 receptions for 40 yards. On Saturday it is not inconceivable to think he will play a legitimate role in the offense, but it is also possible that he could be a non-factor.

Brandon Breazell is the next best receiver on the team with nine receptions and 125 yards and a touchdown.

However in what is a common theme for the Bruins offense, there is a lot of inconsistency at the position. Breazell had 49 yards against Utah but only one catch, a touchdown, against Rice. At Washington he had 30 yards and against Stanford he had 28 yards.

There may not be many deep threats on the team, but there are enough players to form a legit passing game. However, the team has yet to do it and it seems unlikely the Arizona secondary is going to be the first to allow them to do so.

The offensive line starts just one senior and the best lineman on the team is junior Shannon Tevaga. He has started 22 straight games at the strong guard position and is considered to be one of the better interior linemen in the country.

The UCLA offensive line is a solid unit, though teams have been pretty successful with their pass rush.

Arizona's 5 Keys to
Defensive Success
1. Get to Olson:
He has not been that great under pressure and Arizona must pressure him if they don't want him to work with his numerous targets.
2. Force turnovers:
If Arizona is going to win, it must force turnovers, thus giving the offense a better opportunity to score.
3. Stop the run:
If Arizona contains the run, it will be very difficult for UCLA to win. The Wildcats must make UCLA as one-dimensional as they can in order to be able to blitz and have a successful defense.
4. Don't let Olson get in a groove:
He has enough weapons on offense to move down the field effectively, but not if he does not have the time to do so.
5. Be aware of Paulsen: He is UCLA's top receiver and even though he is a tight end, he can not be ignored. Arizona is going to have to be aware of him throughout the game, or else UCLA will be able to open things up.

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