Opportunistic Defense Keys UCLA Bruin Victory vs. Washington Huskies

By Joseph Lisi
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins entered their game with the PAC-12 rival Washington Huskies confident and focused on sending a message.

The Bruins were the no. 13th ranked team in the nation and had great success against the Huskies in recent years. Since 1997, the Bruins had won seven straight games against Washington at home with the average margin of victory being 13.5 points per game. However, in order to get the victory on Friday night, the Bruins knew the defense would have to make a statement.

The defense did not disappoint and in front of the home crowd rocking a “blackout” as it dropped the hammer in leading the Bruins to the convincing 41-31 win.

Prior to the game, the Huskies were the 17th-ranked rushing offense in the country, averaging 229 yards per game. Led by an experienced offensive line, running back Bishop Sankey accumulated 1,305 yards on the year and 13 touchdowns. UCLA was able to take away the rushing attack of the Huskies and forced Washington into beating them through the air. The defensive line used stunting techniques in clogging running lanes, forcing the Huskies into third and long situations.

With the inability for Washington to run on first and second down, the Huskies became one-dimensional.

Washington finished the game with 102 yards rushing (127 yards under their average) and a mere 2.8 yards per rush. Sankey finished with 91 yards on 27 carries (3.4 yards per carry) and was frustrated throughout the evening by a gang-tackling Bruins defense.

The Huskies converted 8-of-17 (47 percent) third down conversions as the Bruins forced Washington quarterback Keith Price (shoulder injury) out of the game in the second quarter with their physicality and constant pressure. The secondary did an excellent job of taking away the deep ball and forced Washington to take the short-to-underneath routes. This approach made Washington methodically work down the field and disrupted the timing of their offense.

UCLA forced the Huskies out of their game plan by utilizing stunts and run blitzes. By showing Washington’s offensive line multiple looks defensively, the Bruins were able to create pressure and cause turnovers. UCLA forced two key turnovers in the first 3:57 of the game that led to the Bruins opening up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. UCLA would add two more interceptions late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

The victory moved the Bruins to 8-2 on the season and 5-2 in conference play.

Joseph Lisi is a writer for Rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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