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UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

UCLA defense has to be much better than average against Oregon

Bruins can't give up anywhere near their 54-points-per-game average to the Ducks. Tackling and pace are the keys to the game against team that leads nation in scoring and total offense.

October 20, 2010|By Chris Foster

UCLA might be able to keep the ball long enough on offense. The Bruins might even be able to score enough points to win most games.

But to win its game Thursday night at Oregon, UCLA's defense can't let the Ducks match anywhere near their 54-points-per-game average.

Keys for the Bruins: tackling and pace.

"There is going to be a lot of one-on-one tackling," UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "They try to put guys in space and make you miss. That's how they create big plays. So the key will be for us to wrap up and our teammates run to the ball."

That works in theory. Putting it into practice against the Ducks' nuclear offense is another matter.

Running back LaMichael James, a Heisman trophy candidate, leads the nation in rushing. Quarterback Darron Thomas has been so effective the Ducks have felt no ill effects from Jeremiah Masoli's transfer to Mississippi.

Oregon leads the nation in scoring and total offense and is third in rushing.

Meanwhile, the Bruins have been run over for 313 yards by Kansas State, 211 yards by Stanford and 304 yards by California.

But Coach Rick Neuheisel, sees a difference.

"We've been exposed in a couple of contests," Neuheisel said. "But the more people spread you out maybe the better off we are because we're a little more athletic. It won't be such a point-of-attack deal [against Oregon]. At least that's my hope."

The Bruins' other concern is the speed at which the Ducks operate their offense. UCLA had difficulty getting set against California, which goes at a molasses pace compared to Oregon. Oregon's hurry-up style was something the Bruins tried to emulate in practice in the last week.

"Obviously, Oregon is going to look at that [Cal] tape," Neuheisel said. "Oregon is a very potent team that uses pace better than any other team as a weapon."

Homecoming

UCLA freshman Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a defensive end who played at Portland Douglas High last season, will be returning home as a starter.

Odighizuwa, who had Oregon as one of his finalists before going with UCLA, moved into the starting lineup last week and had two sacks against California

"It will be great seeing my family, my mom, brothers, coaches and cousins," Odighizuwa said. "I've been asking the other guys for tickets. I think I have enough."

Brehaut ready

Richard Brehaut is likely to start his second college game unless Kevin Prince's knee has improved dramatically. Brehaut said he can draw on his experience against Washington State, his first start.

"I wouldn't say getting to start changed how I do things during the week, but it does help me relax about being the starter," Brehaut said. "I can't control what the decisions the coaches make and I can't control how Kevin's leg feels. I can only control what I do in practice.

"I don't worry about all outside stuff, like who is going to get to play."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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