Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Notre Dame Football 2007
Issue 6: UCLA

Sorry for the abbreviated preview; it's midterm week. Oh, and the baseball playoffs are on.

UCLA Rush Offense vs. ND Rush Defense

36 Khalil Bell and 28 Chris Markey have shared time for the Bruins. Bell is averaging 20 rushers and 104 yards per game, while Markey is averaging 16 and 81. Bell has 4 rushing TDs to Markey's 3.
Trevor Laws now leads the Irish in total tackles with 41, and in tackles for a loss with 4.5. Maurice Crum is second on the team with 20 tackles, and Joe Brockington is right behind with 38.

ND Rush Offense vs. UCLA Rush Defense

James Aldridge is starting to see more and more carries for the Irish. He's now averaging 8 rushes and 43 yards per game. Armando Allen is averaging 6 and 20. Robert Hughes is trying to become the short yardage back; he's averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Travis Thomas has struggled, averaging just 1.2 yards per carry.
Linbackers 51 Reggie Carter and 55 Korey Bosworth each have 4 tackles for a loss, trailing only DE 44 Bruce Davis. UCLA's top three tacklers are defensive backs, which would normally be a good sign to opposing running backs. But the Bruins have had a very good run defense, holding opponents to only 89 yards per game.

UCLA Pass Offense vs. ND Pass Defense

7 Ben Olson has established himself as UCLA's starter, but his numbers have been less than impressive. On an average day, Olson completes 16 of 30 passes for 230 yards, with a TD and an interception. He's completing only 51.6% of his passes this year. WR 1 Brandon Breazell is averaging 4-5 catches and 80 yards per game. Fellow WR 26 Joe Cowan and 9 Marcus Everett are the only other Bruins with double digit receptions. Cowan and 19 Dominique Johnson each have 2 TD receptions. There's definitely a pattern here: all of UCLA's reception leaders are wideouts; no tight ends, no backs.
Notre Dame is holding opponents to 145 passing yards per game. David Bruton, Tom Zbikowski, Darrin walls, and Kyle McCarthy each have an interception, and John Ryan leads the team with 1.5 sacks.

ND Pass Offense vs. UCLA Pass Defense

The only way Jimmy Clausen doesn't play is if he still can't plant his left foot comfortably. Classen and Evan Sharpley are each completing over 60% of their passes, for 164 yards per game. David Grimes, the team leader in catches with 15, is quesitonable for this game. That leaves George West (13 catches), John Carlson (12), and talented freshmen Robby Parris (12), Duval Kamara (11), and Golden Tate (3) to step up.
UCLA is giving up 273 passing yards per game, so you can definitely throw on them. But don't throw in the direction of CB 23 Trey Brown, who already has 3 interceptions. DE Bruce Davis leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Eleven Bruins have recorded at least a partial sack. The Irish offensive line will need to step it up in this one, and Clausen or Sharpley will need to remain on their toes. Considering Clausen's possible injuries and Sharpley's tendency to hold onto the ball too long, that could spell trouble once again for Notre Dame.

Special Teams

I'll stick to the big news here. FS 18 Matt Slater has an 85-yard kick return TD for the Bruins. For the Irish, Eric Maust has officially replaced Geoff Price at punter. Price isn't injured; it was a combination of Price's inconsistency and Maust's good play (43.7 yards per punt) that led to the change.

Look for a big game from Clausen, Parris, Kamara, Laws, Bruton.

ND 24, UCLA 21: UCLA's defense will give up some points. ND just has to stop their offense.