PREVIEW: No. 7 UCLA vs. Virginia

PREVIEW: No. 7 UCLA vs. Virginia

Virginia football opens its season on Saturday against nationally-ranked UCLA. HooNation takes a look at the match up.

Virginia has a tough opening match-up with UCLA in town. The Wahoos bring back a wealth of experience on defense, but the Bruins’ offense will provide quite the challenge. HooNation takes a look at the individual battles for Saturday’s game.
Virginia Offense vs. UCLA Defense

Greyson Lambert has taken over the reigns of the UVa offense. For a team trying to work in new quarterback, the Wahoos are not getting an easy game out of the gate. UCLA bring wn experienced defensive group. The defense is ranked 35th in the country after only allowing 23 points per game.

Mike London and his staff have preached often during camp that the wide receiver core is the strongest group. Well this group will certainly be put to the test. The Bruins secondary returns every starter from a year ago which includes Fabian Moreau, Anthony Jefferson, Randall Goforth and Ishmael Adams.

Last season, UVa relied heavily on the backfield with 1,000 yard rusher Kevin Parks leading the way. With Virginia still working on its passing game, UCLA will certainly target the run on Saturday. The Bruins lost outside linebacker Anthony Barr, inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt to the NFL, but UCLA returns Myles Jack, who has looked stronger and quicker this offseason (I know scary). Jack finished his rookie season with 75 tackles, 11 pass break-ups and two picks-that’s just his defensive stats. With UVa’s running game in mind as well, keep an eye on outside linebacker Aaron Wallace, who will probably remain on the edge throughout the afternoon, thus putting more pressure on Virginia’s air attack to produce.

Virginia’s offensive line will certainly be put to the test with Kenneth Clark, Eddie Vanderdoes and a healthy Owamagbe Odighizuwa up front.

Clark finished last season with 31 tackles as a freshman, and with a year under his belt, he could pose a lot of trouble for an inexperienced Virginia line.


UCLA offense vs. Virginia defense

UVa’s secondary will definitely stay busy on Saturday. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is a Heisman candidate, who can hurt you in the air and on the ground. The dual-threat quarterback last season passed for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns, and ran for over 700 yards and 11 more touchdowns.

Hundley is UCLA’s starting quarterback for the third straight season, and something can be said for that consistency. The offense is comfortable. Like last season when Virginia faced Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UVa wil deal with a signal caller that can take apart a defense with his arm or find the gap and get a huge gain.

Hundley has some targets to watch for in wide receiver Devin Lucien, who has has taken over the leadership role from Darius Bell. During camp, many have described Lucien as a more mature player. Bruins can also count on Devin Fuller, Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte, who has some of the best hands on the team.

As we mentioned above Myles Jack will be a menace on defense, but he can prove to be a menace on offense. Although UCLA has said his role on offense will be far less this season, after a season that saw Jack rush for seven touchdowns, it is hard not to see him playing a role in the backfield.

The UCLA offensive line added Miami graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche, who will likely start at left tackle. Jake Brendel is a question mark for UCLA after a MCL straining at camp. UCLA could look at Alex Redmond and Scott Quessenberry to take up the inside role if needed.


Outlook

No matter how you spin this, this will be a tough match up for Virginia. I think no none should judge this game towards the rest of the season, however, there are a lot of things stacked against UVa to pick the Cavaliers. My prediction is the Bruins will win by three touchdowns.

Virginia and No.7 UCLA will kick off at noon on ESPN.

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