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UCLA's defense sets the pace in win over Arizona

Bruins' scout team practiced at a tempo that prepared the defense for its best effort of the season and helped set up a 66-10 rout of the Wildcats.

November 05, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

In practices leading to Saturday night's game against Arizona at the Rose Bowl, UCLA's offensive scout team ran at a pace that its first-team defense thought was impossible.

"It was a speed I've never seen," said defensive end Cassius Marsh.

"The pace was unreal," said defensive back Sheldon Price.

"Chaotic," said linebacker Eric Kendricks.

The scout team performed so fast, in fact, that when UCLA faced Arizona and its high-powered, up-tempo offense, the Wildcats . . . started . . . to . . . look . . . slow.

"Our scout team ran faster than they ran," said Kendricks, who had 14 tackles, including two sacks, in the game.

And thus, the Bruins shut down Arizona, 66-10, a win that helped boost UCLA (7-2, 4-2) into first place in the Pac-12 Conference's South Division standings.

The Wildcats entered the game with the nation's fourth-ranked offense (553.6 yards a game) and 20th-ranked scoring offense (39.1 points a game), and were coming off an upset of USC.

Which fired up UCLA's defense, apparently.

"They felt challenged," Coach Jim Mora said. "We knew this was an outstanding offense coming in here. They put up huge numbers. They came in with a lot of acclaim."

Add in the fact that UCLA was coming off a win in which it gave up 43 points to Arizona State, and its defense was looking to rebound.

"Last week, we never want to have a game like that," Marsh said of the 45-43 victory at Tempe, Ariz. "We expect big games for our defense. We expect games like this."

Arizona's 257 yards on offense was the lowest total UCLA has given up this season; the previous low was 309 in a win against Colorado.

It was also Arizona's lowest offensive output of the season; its previous low was 332 in a loss against Oregon.

"Arizona was putting up points on everybody, a high-powered offense, and to have them come into our house, it was a challenge," Price said. "And I think we really stepped up to it."

By the end of the first quarter, Arizona had run 13 plays for 22 total yards.

UCLA, meanwhile, had run 29 plays for 195 yards — and led, 21-0.

The Wildcats committed three costly turnovers, all fumbles, two of which UCLA's offense turned into backbreaking touchdowns.

After the rout, UCLA kept citing its practices for its defensive domination.

"Oh, our offensive scout team, all young kids, they did a hell of a job," defensive coordinator Lou Spanos said.

To the casual observer, it might have looked as if UCLA knew what was coming on every play — and to a degree, that's true.

"We were calling out [their] plays before they ran them," Kendricks said.

By the end, Arizona was run out of the Rose Bowl, battered and bruised.

And the Bruins walked off the field with their fans chanting not about the next opponent (Washington State on Saturday in Pullman, Wash.), but about the next team it will face in this very stadium.

"Beat 'SC!" the chants thundered late into the night, alluding to the showdown on Nov. 17 against the Trojans.

In the meantime, UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones could look back on his team's defensive performance against Arizona and say it was the most complete effort by his team all season.

In fact, Jones said, it was really the team's only complete defensive performance this season.

"I can't remember any others, to tell you the truth," Jones said.

On a night when UCLA's defense needed to perform to give its offense a chance, it dominated, paving the way for a rout.

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