Game Week: Five Things to Watch

SEP. 9 -- We have five questions for UCLA to answer heading into the Texas game on Saturday...

1. Who takes Randall Goforth’s spot?

Probably the most concerning development from Saturday’s game, aside from the clear schematic issues on defense, was the injury to Randall Goforth. Goforth injured his shoulder on a run to the outside, and the concern is that it’s the opposite shoulder from the one he had already injured, which makes the recovery time a bit more of an unknown, since shoulder separations can be tricky. He’ll almost certainly be out this weekend, with Mora saying he was somewhere between “questionable” and “doubtful” so he’ll need to be replaced in the starting lineup.

UCLA has a couple of realistic options in Tahaan Goodman and Jaleel Wadood. Goodman had some struggles in the Memphis game, taking a few bad angles on ball carriers and seemingly having to be moved into position by Anthony Jefferson a few times. He looked talented in spring and fall camp, so the light could turn on at any time. Wadood had a couple of nice moments against Virginia, but didn’t do much of note this past week. Our guess is that Goodman gets the nod early, but Wadood will factor pretty significantly into the safety rotation.

2. Will UCLA’s defense rebound from last week?

UCLa’s defense looked very good in week one, and then put together a very poor performance against Memphis on Saturday. The issues did appear more schematic than anything, with UCLA not being fully prepared for the multiple looks and motions that Memphis used, so there’s hope that it can be fixed in a short amount of time.

The performance against Texas, though, could be deceptive, because the Longhorns really struggled on offense last week against BYU and, with its two starting offensive tackle still suspended and starting quarterback David Ash out for the game with concussion symptoms, those struggles could continue. The real test is Arizona State in 17 days, and UCLA will have to make some progress before then.

Myles Jack.
3. How much will the Myles Jack package expand?

UCLA worked on the Myles Jack running back package last week in practice, so it wasn’t much of a shock that it was deployed against Memphis, except in the sense that it was concerning that it was absolutely needed to put away the Tigers. Texas gave up 41 points to BYU last week, but gave up just 94 total yards to North Texas in week one, so there’s potential for that defense to be decent. Against Memphis, the Jack package was pretty similar to what it was last year, with the added wrinkle of some work in the base offense. It’ll be interesting to see how much, if any, the package expands this week in preparation for Texas.

4. Can UCLA put together a complete game?

Through two games, we’ve seen a game where the UCLA offense looks good and where the UCLA defense looks bad. We’ve also seen a game where the UCLA defense looks good and the UCLA offense looks bad. Luckily, UCLA played two of the weaker opponents on its schedule in the first two weeks, but the Bruins have a lot to figure out over the next week or two before the Pac-12 schedule starts.

Putting together a complete game against Texas, with solid performances from both offense and defense would have two results: one, the game would likely be a blowout if UCLA plays near to its potential on both sides of the ball, and two, it’ll give the team a great deal of confidence heading into the bye week and Arizona State and.

5. Will we see more Kenny Walker, any Mossi Johnson?

Logan Sweet and Tyler Scott got plenty of time against Memphis, and Scott actually had a couple of key catches. Sweet struggled a bit, and had another drop. The thing is, both got considerably more snaps than Kenny Walker (2) and Mossi Johnson (0), both of whom are probably more talented players right now, and both of whom have considerably more upside. Walker rewarded the coaches on his first play with a 62 yard touchdown, and then was seen from exactly once afterward. Johnson, who tore up spring and fall camp at the backup Y spot, hasn’t played, which is surprising. It’ll be very interesting this week to see, first, if Eldridge Massington is limited with the ankle injury and then, second, to see if that frees up time for Walker and Johnson.

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