Oregon-UCLA Position Battle: Lineman
By Dave Razzano
Oregon Defensive Line vs. UCLA Offensive Line
This could be an interesting matchup for awhile as the UCLA offensive line is both big and physical, averaging 316 pounds across the board. Led by OT's Jeff Baca and Mike Harris as well as 320 pound senior OC Kai Maiava, this group is very capable of opening holes in the run game and relies more on power than athletic skill in their collective style of play. Sophomore OG's Greg Capella and massive Chris Ward are both smash mouth type blockers who can finish with authority. This line is perfect for pounding the ball and controlling the clock late in the game. Unfortunately for UCLA, they have been behind too often this season and have had to rely on the pass game more than they would like.
The Oregon Ducks play a 3-4 front and rely more on quickness rather than bulk strength. UCLA's o-line can handle these guys, but when you include Oregon's pass rushing outside linebackers Josh Kaddu and Dion Jordan, it becomes a struggle as both are very quick up field and difficult for any OT's to handle for four quarters.
EDGE: Oregon DL
UCLA Defensive Line vs. Oregon Offensive Line
Though the Bruins rotate seven or eight defensive linemen throughout the game to keep fresh bodies on the field, I see a big mismatch here. The two best overall defensive linemen for UCLA are underclassmen DE's Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Damien Holmes, both explosive and athletic coming off the edge. The problem is the middle of the defensive front lacks quickness and bulk and could get physically dominated by the Ducks big and athletic offensive line. Though the Bruins can get pressure up the field, the Ducks zone option attack will be very difficult to for these Bruin defenders to read quickly as most of them seem to lack quick recognition skill needed against this type of attack. They can be very overaggressive charging upfield and will really need to stay at home and remain disciplined to thwart the Ducks powerful run game.
I have said before that the play of the Oregon offensive line is what really makes this offense tick as they are all big guys who can run and pull as well as strong enough to block at the point of attack. Led by OG's Carson York and 330-pound senior Mark Asper, this is a typical Oregon OL that is big on blocking fundamentals and movement skill. They run a lot of misdirection schemes to keep defenses off balance and guessing for the better part of a game.
EDGE: Oregon OL
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil. He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).