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BOULDER, CO - November 6, 2021: University of Colorado Boulder's Jarek Broussard on a huge run against the           Oregon State Beavers. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – November 6, 2021: University of Colorado Boulder’s Jarek Broussard on a huge run against the Oregon State Beavers. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Buffaloes scouting report

Head coach: Karl Dorrell, 2nd season (7-8; 42-35 career)

2021 Record: 3-6, 2-4 Pac-12

Last week: Defeated Oregon State, 37-34 (2 OT)

5 Players to Watch

  • RB Jarek Broussard: He had his first big game of 2021 last week, rushing for 151 yards. He’ll try to make it two in a row against the Bruins
  • WR Montana Lemonious-Craig: He’s caught seven passes, including one for a TD, in the past four weeks and is one of the Buffs’ most reliable targets.
  • S Mark Perry: Has quietly put together a good season, especially in the second half. Over the last three games, he has 19 tackles, one tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
  • OLB Carson Wells: He’s never had a sack against UCLA, but he’s been playing very well of late, with 21 tackles and six tackles for loss in the last four games.
  • S Trevor Woods: Becoming a bigger part of the rotation on defense, Woods has played in 63 snaps over the past two games and has recorded 13 tackles.

CU offense: There has been a resurgence for the Buffs’ offense, which has scored 66 points and racked up 733 yards in the past two weeks. The offensive line has been solid, allowing just one sack in that time, while QB Brendon Lewis has played his best football of the season. The Buffs also got running back Jarek Broussard going last week. “There’s a lot of confidence that’s going on that side of the ball right now with a number of guys that are playing better,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “So we’re good and excited about the improvements that they’re making.

CU defense: Although unlikely that inside linebacker Nate Landman will play this week, the Buffs played a solid game without him against Oregon State. The run defense, however, has struggled in recent weeks. Three consecutive opponents have gained at least 213 yards on the ground and the Buffs have allowed 213-plus rushing yards five times this season. The Buffs are hoping their committee of linebackers – Robert Barnes, Marvin Ham II, Jack Lamb and Quinn Perry – can continue to progress. “There’s still some work we need to continue to do in practice to get those guys kind of tuned up and ready to go for them to play even better, but I am encouraged,” Dorrell said.

CU special teams: According to Pro Football Focus, the Buffs have the highest-graded special teams in the country. That’s a credit in large part to the kickers. Punter Josh Watts is second in the Pac-12 and sixth nationally in average (48.33) and freshman kicker Cole Becker has made eight of his last nine field goal attempts. In addition to the kickers doing well, the Buffs have been good on returns, ranking second in the Pac-12 in kickoff returns (27.4 yards per return) and third in punt returns (14.5).

CU keys to victory

Win the ground battle: This won’t be easy against a good rushing offense of UCLA, but the Buffs have given up a lot of yards on the ground in recent weeks and have to reverse that trend. They got 222 rushing yards of their own last week, though, and running the ball will be important.

Start strong: Playing on the road, the Buffs need a quick start to build some confidence and momentum. In three road games this season, the Buffs have yet to score in the first quarter and they’ve faced deficits of 14-0, 13-0 and 21-0 in those games.

Mix it up: The Buffs’ coaches have done a great job in recent weeks of throwing some new wrinkles into the playbook and it’s worked well for them. Adding a few more and keeping the Bruins on their toes will help.

Buffs notables

  • Colorado is 0-9 in the Los Angeles area since joining the Pac-12 and 1-16 all-time (1-7 at UCLA, 0-7 at USC and 0-2 in bowl games). The only win was a 31-17 victory at UCLA on Sept. 21, 2002.
  • The Buffs are 3-2 in their last five games against UCLA, with each win in Boulder. Last year, the Buffs jumped out to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter before holding off a late Bruins rally.
  • CU is starting to get settled on the offensive line. The Buffs have had the same starting five – left tackle Jake Wiley, left guard Kary Kutsch, center Colby Pursell, right guard Casey Roddick and right tackle Frank Fillip – the last six games and that group has played every snap of the last two games.
  • The Buffs have had five turnover-free games this season, which is already a school record. Overall, CU has had just six turnovers. Nationally, only Coastal Carolina (five) has fewer turnovers.
  • Outside linebacker Carson Wells and defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson are tied for 14th in CU history with 33 tackles for loss. Reaching 37 would get them into the top 10.
BOULDER, CO – NOVEMBER 07: UCLA head coach Chip Kelly talks with Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) in the fourth quarter at Folsom Field November 07, 2020. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Bruins scouting report

Head coach: Chip Kelly, 4th season (15-25; 61-32 college career)

2021 Record: 5-4, 3-3 Pac-12

Last week: Bye; lost at Utah, 44-24, on Oct. 30

5 Players to Watch

  • LB Bo Calvert: The junior has had a good season to this point, with 29 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.
  • RB Zach Charbonnet: The Michigan transfer has had some big games for the Bruins and he’s rushed for 797 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. He’s also averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
  • TE Greg Dulcich: One of the best receiving tight ends in the country, he has caught 31 passes for 477 yards and four touchdowns. Last year against CU, he had four catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.
  • DB Qwuantrezz Knight: A leader on defense, Knight often plays nickel and makes a lot of plays. He leads the team in tackles (49) and tackles for loss (5.5). He also has 1.5 sacks and three pass breakups.
  • QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson: A dangerous dual-threat, he has thrown for 1,639 yards and 14 touchdowns, with only three interceptions, while rushing for 363 yards and six touchdowns. In three career starts against CU, he has thrown for 667 yards and 7 TD and rushed for 138 yards and 1 TD.

UCLA offense: While Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the leader and four-year starter at QB, the offense goes as the run game goes. Between Thompson-Robinson and running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown, the Bruins have a talented rushing attack that averages 199.44 yards per game. “We’ve got to just play with good run defense and not let too many big plays that have been happening lately,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “We’ve got to try to minimize those big plays, but the linebackers we’re using they’re very capable.”

UCLA defense: It’s been a roller-coaster season for the Bruins’ defense. They rank ninth in the Pac-12 in points allowed (28.2), which most of those coming in their losses. They’ve given up an average of 40.0 per game in the losses. Overall, the Bruins have been very good against the run, ranking first in the Pac-12 (116.4 yards per game), but did give up 290 yards to Utah in their last game. Against the pass, they rank last in the Pac-12 in giving up 278.4 yards per game. This week, the Bruins are prepared for the dual-threat ability of CU’s Brendon Lewis. “Whenever you face that athletic quarterback, I think the ability for that guy to extend plays and scramble and throw the ball on unscripted plays or to just tuck it and run are things you’ve got to prepare for and try to simulate in practice situations,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said.

UCLA special teams: Over the last two seasons, Nicholas Barr-Mira has been solid for the Bruins, making 17-of-22 career field goal attempts, including 11-of-15 this year. He is 17-of-20 inside 50 yards. Punter Luke Akers averages 42.3 yards per punt and his plays seven of 29 punts inside the 20. The Bruins have some explosive ability on returns, led by Kyle Phillips (19.4 average on punt returns) and Kazmeir Allen (30.5 average on kickoff returns).

UCLA keys to victory

Ground game: When the Bruins run the ball well, they win. In each of their five wins, the Bruins have had a 100-yard rusher and topped 200 yards as a team (244.8 per game). In their four losses, they’ve averaged 142.8 rushing yards.

Take care of the ball: In the 2020 meeting with the Buffs, UCLA had four turnovers, which helped the Buffs build a big lead. This season, the Bruins have seven turnovers in their four losses and just three in their five wins.

Get after Lewis: CU’s offensive line has been very good the last two weeks and given QB Brendon Lewis time to operate. The Bruins would like to limit that and make Lewis uncomfortable. UCLA has just 15 sacks this season, but several players capable of disrupting the game.

Bruins notables

  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson has rushed for 936 yards in his career but has just one 100-yard game in his career. That came against the Buffs a year ago, when he had 109 yards on nine carries.
  • Chip Kelly is 3-2 in his career against the Buffs, including a 2-0 mark when he was head coach at Oregon. He is 1-2 against CU while at UCLA.
  • The Bruins have lost three consecutive games and five of their last seven at home. In four seasons under Kelly, UCLA is 8-14 at the Rose Bowl.
  • UCLA can achieve bowl eligibility with a win. The Bruins haven’t been to a bowl game since the Cactus Bowl in 2017. They are also seeking their first winning season since 2015.
  • Receiver Kyle Phillips ranks ninth in UCLA history with 143 catches. He needs seven to become just the seventh Bruins to reach 150. He’s also 21st in receiving yards (1,610).

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