Oregon-UCLA Position Battle: WR's vs. DB's
By Dave Razzano
Oregon WO's vs UCLA DB's
The Ducks spread the ball all over the place while utilizing their entire receiving corps in the game plan. The big difference for Oregon has been the play of true freshman speedster De'Anthony Thomas, who motions quite a bit from his slot position to create mismatches, as his quickness is extremely hard to contain in the open field. He is a nightmare for defenders. His nine TD's lead the receivers. Another weapon is 6'4 Lavasier Tuinei, who has very good quickness for a big man and gets open a bunch on underneath cross routes throughout the game. Expect UCLA to match their big DB Aaron Hester on Tuinei and the fast senior Andrew Abbott on the speedy Thomas. Oregon's TE combination of the reliable David Paulson and true freshman Colt Lyerla will be a challenge for Bruin safeties Tevin McDonald and Dietrich Riley. Lyerla has been solid in the red zone with four TD receptions on six total catches. McDonald also lines up at nickel corner for the Bruins and possesses very good athletic skill and the ability to match up one on one with most wide receivers. A good pass rush is always helpful for any secondary, and the Bruins lack the ability to pressure the QB with any consistency, which will give Oregon QB Darron Thomas the extra time he needs to complete passes. It also helps having RB LaMichael James on outlet throws. All things considered, the big edge in this match up goes to Oregon.
UCLA WO's vs Oregon DB's
On the other side, the UCLA receiving group matches up very well with the Oregon secondary. The Bruins have a ton of size here, led by 6'8" TE Joseph Fauria, 6'5" WO Nelson Rosario as well as 6'3" Taylor Embree. They have a major height advantage so it will be up to QB Kevin Prince to deliver the ball with timing and accuracy. Fauria leads the group with six TDs including two versus Stanford. He can win in the red zone against the Ducks' undersized but aggressive safeties John Boyett and Eddie Pleasant. The Ducks possess one of the top young corners in the country in redshirt freshman Terrance Mitchell. He has outstanding quickness and can close on the ball like a rocket. He is difficult to beat when matched up in man coverage. The Bruins need to attack the other side, where senior Anthony Gildon has filled in most of the season for suspended corner Cliff Harris and is susceptible in coverage. Though the Bruins have some ability to move the ball through the air, it will be up to the coaching staff to implement a game plan to take advantage of some height mismatches in order to score points. The Ducks will win this game but UCLA definitely has the ability to put up some yards in the passing game.
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).