UCLA Bruins linebacker Eric Kendricks hunts Arizona Wildcats quarterback… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
On the day after a UCLA football game, Bruins linebacker Eric Kendricks typically is the first one in the film room, where he'll spend several hours breaking down video.
That's according to Bruins Coach Jim Mora, who said of Kendricks, "He's always there."
Lately, the third-year sophomore has played a starring role in those videos.
He has recorded 30 tackles in the last two games, including 20 solo. He forced a fumble in UCLA's 66-10 demolition of Arizona and was named the Pac-12 conference defensive player of the week.
Kendricks is UCLA's leading tackler with 87 this season. That's 33 more than Tevin McDonald, who is second.
"I'm a little more experienced, learning to make the calls," Kendricks said this week. "I'm realizing tendencies: the running back, the formation. I'm picking up on the keys they are giving away."
Mora credited Kendricks' hours in the film room, adding that the linebacker has always been a hard worker.
"He is understanding the system and understanding what is happening in front of him," Mora said. "He's processing the information quicker."
Scouting the Cougars
Marquess Wilson, Washington State's leading receiver, will miss Saturday's game against UCLA in Pullman, Wash. He was suspended from the team this week, but Mora said Thursday that Wilson's absence won't change UCLA's defensive game plan.
"They're not going to change their schemes," he said. "They're going to do what they do."
What the Cougars do is throw the ball. And although Washington State's record isn't great — 2-7 overall, 0-6 in Pac-12 play — its passing offense ranks 11th nationally, averaging 324.2 yards a game.
Wilson leads the Cougars with 52 receptions for 813 yards and five touchdowns. Statistically, the closest receiver to him is Gabe Marks, who has 38 catches for 477 yards and two touchdowns.
Because the Cougars rank last nationally in rushing, averaging a paltry 29.1 yards per game, it would seem that UCLA could focus on stopping the pass, but Mora doesn't see it that way.
"They will run it," he said. "It's a little bit deceptive, their run stats, because they've taken some sacks, and in college football sack yards come away from the rush yards, so I think sometimes when you look at that you have to remember what the real yardage is."
Washington State has given up 40 sacks this season and is tied with Colorado for most in the nation. Those sacks have resulted in a loss of 274 yards. Without those losses, the Cougars would be rushing for 59.7 yards per game.