QB Josh Rosen and RB Soso Jamabo (Photo by Steve Cheng)

Ask the Expert: UCLA

Each week we go behind enemy lines to ask the expert of the Beavers opponent to give us insight into the match-up. Today we check in with Blair Angulo, who covers the UCLA Bruins for Bruin Report Online.

1. The Bruins are having a disappointing season, losing their last four games. With all the talent on the roster, what have been the issues facing UCLA this season?

It all trickles down to UCLA's inability to run the football. The Bruins quite literally have the worst rushing attack in America, and that's difficult to fathom given that their offensive coordinator, Kennedy Polamalu, is a renowned running backs coach. They changed to more of a pro-style scheme featuring fullbacks and true tight ends, but that didn't necessarily work out the way the coaches had hoped. UCLA essentially abandoned the run in its previous home game against Utah, attempting 70 passes.

UCLA lost its season opener at Texas A&M in overtime, then blew a late lead against Stanford a couple weeks later before seeing star quarterback Josh Rosen suffer a season-ending shoulder injury at Arizona State. It's just been a woeful last couple months for Jim Mora and Co., and fans just can't help but wonder where this team would be even with just a middle-of-the-pack run game.
2. What playmakers on offense should Beaver fans be aware of? How about defense?

There aren't too many playmakers on offense, really. The running backs haven't established any sort of rhythm through 10 weeks and defenses have been able to stop any attempts with ease. Receiver Darren Andrews could be considered UCLA's biggest offensive weapon given his ability to get open early in his routes and what he can do with the football after the catch. Jordan Lasley, another wide receiver, plays with some attitude and has shown some explosiveness when he's gotten opportunities the last month.

On defense, Takkarist McKinley is one of the more exciting players in the country. He can really get after the quarterback off the edge, but also shows tremendous strength to shed blockers in run support. "Takk" has skyrocketed up NFL Draft boards the last few weeks, ranking first nationally in tackles for loss and second in sacks despite missing the better part of two games earlier in the season.

The secondary is also very experienced and probably the team's strongest unit, so it should be interesting to see how Oregon State plans to offset some of those matchups.
3. What is the injury report heading into Saturday's matchup?

Rosen, as mentioned earlier, has been ruled out for the season after undergoing successful surgery on his right throwing shoulder Monday.

Wide receiver Kenneth Walker missed the previous game as he recovers from a concussion, so he'll be monitored in practice this week.

Center Scott Quessenberry really struggled snapping the football last week at Colorado and reporters found out afterward that it was due to a shoulder problem, so that's certainly something to monitor Saturday.

Najee Toran, the starting right guard, was taken out of the Colorado game after straining his neck early on, but Mora told reporters Monday that he expects him to be ready for this one.
4. What can the Beavers do in order to help their chances on Saturday?

Oregon State can start by stopping UCLA's running game, which hasn't been too difficult of a task for opponents this year. That would force quarterback Mike Fafaul, a former walk-on who has as many interceptions as he does touchdowns since replacing Rosen, to make plays. That's probably an equation you'd like if you're the Beavers.

Next, they'll have to neutralize McKinley and take care of the football. The Bruins' defense is definitely a strong point, forcing four turnovers in the first half last week at Colorado, so if the Beavers can minimize McKinley's impact and hang around heading into the fourth quarter, they've got a shot.

5. Is Jim Mora on the hot seat?

Some would say yes, but we're going with no. Mora did enough in his first four years at the helm to warrant more time to assess his future. The circumstances haven't been great this season and obviously some of that has to do with the decisions Mora made in the offseason, but with a new state-of-the-art football facility on the way and a talented roster in place, many believe Mora has the components to keep the Bruins in the conversation in the Pac-12. The same probably can't be said with some of the staff members, especially those on offense given how poorly that unit has performed this season.

Next year, with Rosen as a junior and additional time to perfect the scheme, would serve as a better barometer to gauge Mora's seat.
6. What is your prediction including score?

We're not anticipating UCLA's run game to improve drastically, but we think the Bruins will make enough plays on offense and get some help on the defensive side to snap their four-game losing streak. 

UCLA 31, Oregon State 21.

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