NUMBERS, AVERAGES, STATISTICS, historical data -- and dirty, dirty, lies. That is exactly what we are looking at as the Beavers head to Pasadena for this weekend’s tilt against the Bruins. Emphasis on the dirty, dirty, lies part.
On paper this looks like a giant mismatch. The Bruins are averaging 600 yards on offense and putting up video game-like numbers on the scoreboard. Their defense is forcing turnovers and although they’ve been poor against the run statistically, many of the yards they have given up have been against mobile QB’s, not the running back.
The Beavers don’t have any statistical evidence to prove that they’re a good match for UCLA. They’ve moved the ball through the air in their one contest to date, and the running threat was, at best, credible. UCLA’s strength is their secondary, so they say it’s mismatch against the Beavers, especially when viewed through the prism that Wisconsin was allegedly overrated. Statistically speaking, the Beavers have really, really struggled with mobile quarterbacks, and Hundley can run. The Beavers have a poor record against ranked teams on the road as well. And on and on. On paper, it looks like a big, big mismatch.
Throw all of that out. It’s all lies. Dirty, dirty lies.
THE TRUTH IS that the statistics and apparent weakness of Wisconsin are misleading. The truth is, this isn’t about how many yards have been put up or how many yards have been allowed by either team.
The truth is: This is about matchups, scheme, personnel, and this is about mentality. “Styles make fights,” says boxing analyst Max Kellerman. The same holds true here.
Jim Mora Jr. looks to have brought a new attitude to the Bruins, something reminiscent of the way that Jim Harbaugh changed the mentality at Stanford. There appears a hard-nosed attitude (one that UCLA has lacked for some time) and it comes from the discipline that Mora has installed upon his charges.
But that said, UCLA doesn’t run a power rushing attack. So the fact that Oregon State shut down a vaunted rushing game and Heisman Trophy running back in the home opener? Doesn’t matter. Here is what does…
The Keys to the Game:
• Grab Some Cloth. UCLA’s offense is designed to get the ball to their playmakers in space. Lots of 3 step drops, lots of trap plays in the run game. Staying home, tackling well in space, and limiting YAC (yards after contact) is how the OSU defense gets it done. Franklin leads the league in making defenders look silly so Job 1 is to wrap up, grab cloth and bring him down.
• Kill Their Will. Punishing runs to a defense are like body blows in a heavyweight title fight. They rarely deliver the knockout blow but they set it up – kill the body and the head will follow. If OSU can run the football with success – and stick to the game plan – they can impose their will on a UCLA defense that has not been overly stingy against the run thus far. That will force the Bruins to commit more bodies to the box, and open up opportunities for Wheaton and Cooks to break off the knockout blow.
• No Big Plays. UCLA has lived and breathed on the home run. This is not an offense that is set up to grind -- they probe for a weakness and then seek to attack it. Overpursuit is what they will be looking to exploit from a fast and physical Beaver defense. It would help a lot if D.J. Welch could rekindle the memories of Derrick Doggett. The last time an OSU defense shut down a running quarterback of Hundley’s caliber was in 2006 when Doggett punished UW’s Isaiah Stanback all day long. A little déjà vu in that arena would be most welcome.
You know your favorite iron-fisted dictator prides himself on being humble, but I’d just like to point out that pretty much the Keys and outlook on the Wisconsin game were genius-level stuff. I told you I felt good about Wisconsin and not surprisingly, I was right. Thanks to the Beaver defense, there was at least one Beaver fan committed to dancing naked in the streets. I hope those who pledged to join me followed through. There’s karma at stake here. You know who you are.
Catch OrangeAttack on the BF.C message boards dispensing bits of pseudo-intellectual wisdom and touting the virtues of turning your rotors. Comments? Praise? Want to pay tribute to the unmitigated genius? HIT ME. Orangeattack@beaverfootball.com