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After looking like one of the worst teams in the FBS to start the season, the Bruins really have turned things around during the last three weeks. After putting up a tough fight against tenth ranked Washington in Week 6, UCLA has now ripped off two straight wins: A 37-7 drubbing of the Cal Bears, followed by an exciting win against the Arizona Wildcats this past week. This looks like a totally different UCLA team that is playing improved football in just about every aspect of the game. To top it all off, they have somehow played themselves back into legitimate Pac-12 South contention. Let’s take a look at the grades for this past week’s win against Arizona.

Caleb Wilson Continues To Produce For Bruins; Utah Matchup Preview

Offense

While the Bruins have shown improvement across the board during their last three games, the biggest reason that they are finally competitive is the improved play of their offense. The Bruins’ 0-4 start saw them in several games at halftime but were simply unable to put any points on the scoreboard or move the ball in any meaningful way in the second half. At the end of the day, you have to score points to win, and this Bruins offense just wasn’t able to do that.

They now look like a Chip Kelly offense. Maybe it’s simply becasue the bar was set so low, but I’m pretty excited about what Kelly has to offer this program moving forward.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson – Quarterback

Game Stats: 5/8 103 Yards, 1 TD

DTR continued his hot streak with a good start to this game before leaving early with an injury. It’s looking like Wilton Speight will get the start this week, and he’s a more than capable backup. In fact, I wanted the Bruins to start him earlier in the season when DTR was clearly holding the offense back. DTR seems to have progressed since then. But while he’s out, Speight showed last week that after shaking the rust off, he’s able to keep this offense rolling as it requires.

Utah Utes Preview: The Utes have a big-time secondary led by Javelin Guidry, Corrion Ballard, and Julian Blackmon. They specialize in shutting down receivers, breaking up passes, and intercepting the football. Regardless of who plays QB, this will be a tough one for UCLA, and the quarterback will have to take care of the football.

Game Day Grade: B

Current Draft Stock: Underclassman

Caleb Wilson – Tight End

Game Stats: 6 Rec, 82 Yards

UCLA’s increased productivity in the passing game seems to have coincided with Caleb Wilson finally getting his fair share of catches in the gameplan. This clearly has been an asset for the Bruins offense and has dictated how defenses choose to play them. While this wasn’t Wilson’s best day, he still put up impressive numbers and continues to prove his worth to this offense.

Utah Utes Preview: With how good a job this Utah secondary has done shutting down wide receivers, Wilson should get his fair share of targets to help the QB in the passing game. He also must play well in the run game to help out the depleted offensive line.

Game Day Grade: B

Current Draft Stock: 3rd Round

Andre James – Offensive Line

James’s father passed away five days before the game. He didn’t practice, yet he chose to play in this game. That alone should be worth an A grade. But not only did he play, but he was also productive while doing so. This run game continues to roll with Joshua Kelley. However, the loss of Justin Murphy may be a concern moving forward.

Utah Utes Preview: Leki Fotu, Hauati Pututau, Mike Tafue, and Bradlee Anae have all been impact players on this exotically named and dangerous defensive line. James will have his hands full in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few breakdowns up front here and there.

Game Day Grade: A

Current Draft Stock: 3rd Round

Defense

This game was a bit of a shootout. The good news for the Bruins defense is that they’re starting to make plays on the ball, getting key turnovers in key moments. The bad news is that they were absolutely demolished on the ground in this game. That has to be fixed.

Keisean Lucier-South – Linebacker

Game Stats: 4 Tackles, 1 Pass Defensed

We know Lucier-South has the playmaking ability, and he’s been far from a liability on this defense. However, this was not his most impressive game. Against Utah, he and the rest of the front seven will have to do a better job corralling the run than they did against, or it’s going to be a long day.

Game Day Grade: C

Current Draft Stock: N/A

Adarius Pickett – Safety

Game Stats: 7 Tackles

A quiet day by his standards, but Pickett seems to be a pretty sure bet to play well week in and week out. Zack Moss at the running back position for Utah needs to be the priority for the defense this week. However, the Utes have quietly been very efficient throwing the football as well. This will be a tough matchup for the Bruins defense, and they’ll have to be perfect to win–especially considering the fact that the offense is likely to struggle against this Utes defense.

Game Day Grade: B

Current Draft Stock: 3rd Round

It’s Pac-12 After Dark Time! The short week brings the 23rd ranked Utah Utes to the Rose Bowl for this conference showdown. It’s a really tough matchup for UCLA. Though they seem to have flipped the script on their season in a very good way, I don’t think UCLA comes out of this one with the win, as right now they just aren’t the better team. If they are able to win this game, that will be a hell of a statement that this UCLA team is for real.

Prediction: 32-23 Utah

Cary Krongard

Author Cary Krongard

UCLA and USC Beat Writer for Sports Al Dente

More posts by Cary Krongard

Sports Al Dente 2019

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