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Taylor Martinez presents the Bruins with a big challenge
It's quite simple: Stop Taylor Martinez.
The junior quarterback from Corona, Calif. played extremely well last week against So. Miss. Traditionally known as a running quarterback, Martinez went 26-of-34 for 354 yards and five touchdowns.
"T-Magic" looked extremely comfortable in the pocket and showed much more refinement as a passer compared to a year ago. He was also considerably more accurate, which is a positive sign for him since he's been criticized in the past for struggling to throw the ball to the right place.
Against Rice, the Bruins defense had trouble with the quarterback taking off and scrambling for chunks of yardage. Often times, the defensive line over-pursued and rushed too far up the field. As a result, they opened up big running lanes in the middle of the field that were exploited for big plays.
In this game, the Bruins have to be cognizant of keeping containment and playing assignment football. Saying that Martinez is fleet of foot would be an understatement. He'll absolutely gash UCLA with his legs if they continue to be caught out of position.
In the second half against Rice, the staff made an adjustment and went with a dime look—resulting in a second-half shutout.
Look for Martinez to mix it up and run more in this game than he did last week. His level of productivity will be key—especially with the availability of star tailback Rex Burkhead being a big question mark.