UCLA vs. Oregon: 5 Bruins Who Could Slow Ducks Down
To say that UCLA is an underdog heading into their Pac-12 Championship game against the Ducks of Oregon would be an understatement.
The Bruins are heading into the game as 32-point underdogs and have most of the nation predicting a blowout.
Don't tell the UCLA Bruins that.
In what is likely to be Rick Neuheisel's last appearance as head coach, UCLA will be looking to pull off one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
It is the ultimate David vs. Goliath matchup, and if the Bruins want to beat the mighty Oregon Ducks, they will have to execute their game plan to exact precision and have an all-out effort from every single player that sees action on the field.
Here are five players that could contribute to this effort and slow down the high flying Ducks.
RB Jonathan Franklin
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One of the keys for UCLA against the Ducks will be to keep the ball out of Oregon's hands, and the more than obvious way of accomplishing this is by holding onto the ball as long as they can.
Though the Ducks already rank last in terms of time of possession and still find a way to put points up on the board at an impressive rate, the Bruins need to do all they can to keep the ball away from Oregon.
One such way they will accomplish this is by giving the ball to their running backs, Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman.
Franklin will be relied upon to provide a steady force on the offensive side of the ball, likely receiving the load of carries against the Ducks. If he is able to find lanes to run through and keep pushing toward UCLA first downs, the Bruins will have an easier time of matching points with the Ducks.
RB Derrick Coleman
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Just like Frankline, Derrick Coleman will be expected to help the Bruins push the ball forward at a steady pace, trying to keep the ball out of the hands of the dangerous Duck offense for as long as possible.
Using a slow but steady pace to move down the field has worked in the past against the Ducks, who have torched opponents this season when given the ball in quick successions.
Oregon's game plan relies heavily on tiring out opposing defenses with their explosive plays, and if they can't do this (as evidenced by losses to Ohio State, Auburn and LSU), the Ducks generally struggle.
Consistent production from both Franklin and Malone will help to slow the tempo of the Ducks offense while also eliminating one of the Ducks' biggest advantages.
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
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Once considered to be one of the top recruits considering Oregon, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa switched his views towards the end of his recruiting and chose UCLA.
The Pac-12 Championship game will be a ground where he can prove why he chose the Bruins over the Ducks.
Though he will be part of the rotating defensive line UCLA likes to use, he is an explosive and talented young athlete that can create big problems for offensive lines.
As has been seen in the past, Oregon's offensive line is sometimes susceptible to the fast, big and tough athletes on the defensive side of the ball.
Odighizuwa will play a huge part in trying to slow down the Oregon rushing attack and if he plays well, this championship game may be a lot closer than what people are thinking.
DE Damien Holmes
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Another player like Owamagbe, Damien Holmes will be one of the players expected to help slow down the Ducks on Friday night.
Holmes is another explosive linemen who can play very well at times and will likely be able to create some pressure in the Oregon backfield.
If he plays smart and is able to work with Owamagbe in defending the Oregon zone-read, Holmes may be one of the biggest factors in pulling off one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
QB Kevin Prince
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One of the more underperforming quarterbacks in the nation, Prince will need to be an efficient passer when he is called upon against the Ducks as well as make the proper reads to keep the ball in UCLA's hands.
Just like running-backs Franklin and Coleman, Prince will have to play mistake-free ball and keep the ball as long as he can in the hands of the UCLA offense while also conjuring up some amount of points.
If he is able to do this, UCLA just may find themselves with a home-field advantage come Jan. 2nd.