COLLEGE STATION,TX—The #16 ranked UCLA Bruins begin their 2016 football season this weekend, on the road facing the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station. Both programs are hoping to bounce back from disappointing 8-5 marks last year. Here are 5 important facts heading into tomorrow’s game:
1. JOSH ROSEN GIVEN KEYS TO THE CAR: After a stellar freshman season, in which he amassed 3,669 passing yards to go along with 23 TD passes, the Heisman hopeful will have more freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage, due in part to new offensive coordinator, Kennedy Polamalu. The pro-style offense will allow the Bruins to control the tempo and abandoning the frantic, sometimes chaotic pace, in favor of a more conservative, and balanced style of play better suited for the Bruins
This season, we will see more of what Josh Rosen is all about. A man whose off the field actions garner as much atention as his play. He is an enigma; a polarizing and unapologetic young man. The popular and outspoken 19-year old has stirred the pot on more than one occasioon. Ranging from the hot tub pictures taken in his dorm, which caused a mini-frenzy online, to his ‘Trump’ baseball cap worn of all places, at Trump’s own golf course.
“A lot of the things we are trying is to accentuate what he does well,” said UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora.
2. NEW SUPPORTING CAST: Rosen’s favorite targets from last season have moved on to greener pastures in the NFL. That includes Wide Receivers Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte, Jordan Peyton and Running Back Paul Perkins. Former Cornerback Ishmael Adams is converting to Wide Receiver, and Darren Andrews developed as a deep threat downfield late last year. At Running Back, Nate Starks and Soso Jamambo will carry the load. Whichever team runs the ball better on Saturday will win the game – despite the stellar QB’s on both sides of the ball.
3. EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS: When our Bruins march out of the tunnel at Kyle field, they will be met by 103,000 screaming Aggies fans. It is the biggest stadium in Texas, yet UCLA has an incredible recent record away from the Rose Bowl. Winning 13 of their last 16.
4. FANTASTIC DEFENSE: With every new season, doubt and skepticism are centered around the defense. Not this year, as UCLA is bringing back eight starters from last years stout defense. Defensive Lineman Eddie Vanderdoes returns after a torn ACL kept him off the field in 2015. Other standouts on defense are Linebacker Jayon Brown, who led the Bruins in tackles last year. Cornerback Jaleel Wadood adds depth to a fierce secondary.
5. MORA VS. MAZZONE: In an ironic twist of fate, former Bruins Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone is now with A&M, which could give them an advantage. It will be a cat and mouse game all afternoon. Since 2012, Mora has a 37-16 record as the Bruins head coach.
PREDICTION – UCLA 28, TEXAS A&M 24
The game will air on CBS, kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools, the series is split 2-2. The home opener is the following week, Saturday, September 10 vs. the UNLV Running Rebels at the Rose Bowl.