Tuesday Tape Room: UCLA needs to win rematch in the trenches

Tuesday Tape Room is Pac-12 Networks football analyst (and former USC assistant coach) Yogi Roth’s chance to break down tape in search of details worth focusing on — similar to what’s happening in team meetings throughout the conference today.

In the dog days of training camp, student-athletes use many things as motivation. Some days it is the position battle you’re in. Other days it is the anticipation of the opening game. At night while laying exhausted in the dorms you allow your mind to drift to big games, championship games.

This Friday night, that vision arrives as the UCLA Bruins travel to Stanford to face the ninth-ranked Cardinal in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

What is unique about this match-up is that these two teams faced off last weekend with Stanford winning 35-17 in Pasadena. While watching film of last weekend's battle it was evident what UCLA needs to do to win the rematch.

Quite simply, they need to out-physical Stanford in the trenches, particularly on the defensive front.

Stanford does not hide what they want to do in terms of running power football, but they do it with so many different wrinkles. They run the power concept (blocking down with their frontside guard and tackle, pulling with the backside guard and leading with their fullback) with multiple personnel in various formations while utilizing unique shifts and motions.

This past Saturday, those wrinkles got UCLA's defensive front seven to alter their alignments ever so slightly, as a foot to the right or the left made the difference in last weekend's game. Sometimes that small alignment is the difference between a four- or 49-yard run.

Watch UCLA's middle linebacker (aligned to the left of the center) on the below play. He follows the fullback and overpursues the run, allowing Stepfan Taylor to cut back and run to daylight.

If UCLA is to come up roses, its defensive line must hold its ground, take up blocks and allow the athletic linebackers to make clean reads and fundamental tackles. If the Stanford offensive line can climb to that second level and get between the ballcarrier and the defender, look for David Shaw’s squad to represent the Pac-12 in "the granddaddy of them all" on New Year's Day.

Follow former USC assistant coach and New York Times best-selling author @YogiRoth for insight on @pac12 football.

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