Q&A: Daily Utah Chronicle gives new insight into Saturday’s football game

As No. 8 UCLA football (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) faces Utah (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, one of the Daily Bruin’s football beat writers, Chris Kalra, spoke with his counterpart, Ryan Miller from Utah’s student newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle, about Saturday’s game to get the vantage point from Salt Lake City.

Daily Bruin: Utah junior quarterback Travis Wilson threw six picks in last year’s UCLA-Utah game, and he kind of has that reputation of a gambler. This year, through four games, he has no interceptions. What’s the difference between last year and this year in Wilson’s game?

The Daily Utah Chronicle: I’d say the new offense. (First-year offensive coordinator) Dave Christensen has come over from Wyoming and installed a NASCAR up-tempo fast-paced offense, and it really gives (Wilson) a lot more options and a lot of safer throws. Last year, he was a gambler and really their offense was trying to get it to (senior wide receiver) Dres Anderson for a 40-yard pass. And then if they don’t have that, they don’t really have much. This year, (the offense) is much different … (and Wilson) really has cut down on the deep throws and looks for the quick slant routes and the crossing routes. They’re more efficient plays you can say.

DB: So wide receiver Dres Anderson, he’s a guy well known around Salt Lake City, but not a lot of people know about him around Westwood. Can you give us a quick scouting report on him?

DUC: Dres, he’s fast. His hands are not the greatest. He’s a good route runner. He can get behind a defense pretty easily with his speed … If the defense can keep him in front, he usually can be shut down. From past experience, it can be hard to do that. But if you get to him, or challenge him for a ball, he’s proven in the past, his hands aren’t the strongest. Against Washington State, he dropped two balls that both could have been (touchdowns).

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DB: Utah has the second-most sacks in the Pac-12, and UCLA leads the Pac-12 in sacks allowed. How much pressure do you see Utah getting on Saturday?

DUC: That’s kind of been Utah’s MO for as long as I can remember watching them. Their defensive line is fantastic. It’s not really a rebuild thing here; it’s a reload thing. The strength of (the pass rush) this year has come from the linebacking corps … Expect Utah to really go after that edge (rush) because its secondary isn’t the greatest, and so they know if they’re going to have any shot against (redshirt junior quarterback Brett) Hundley and that offense, they’re going to have to get to him … Early on especially, I expect them to get to Hundley, but as the game progresses, the rush will definitely cool down.

DB: Out in Salt Lake City, what do you feel Utah is preparing for most against UCLA, i.e. what do you think is the Utes’ biggest concern about the Bruins?

DUC: Their biggest concern is they struggle against really, really good quarterbacks and Hundley obviously is that. Against WSU, they played a lot of dime coverage. It kind of killed them in the end … I don’t think they’ll go back to that as much. They’ll definitely stick to their base package. That’s going to be the biggest thing, because if (the pass rush) can’t get to Hundley, the game’s going to be over quick … (Utah’s) secondary won’t hold. (Utah junior safety) Tevin Carter missed the game against Washington State, and all signs point to that he will be playing Saturday. So that was a big miss because actually two touchdowns were given up because the safety was out of position … And the linebacking corps is fantastic, so they’ll be able to hold their own. It’s just if the offense can do enough to keep (the defense) rested enough to actually contain the Bruins on offense.

DB: Putting it all together, UCLA’s top-10 but Utah’s pretty good too at 3-1, what do you think are the odds the Utes upset the Bruins at the Rose Bowl?

DUC: After watching (Utah’s) offense on Saturday (in a 28-27 loss to Washington State), I’m honestly not super optimistic about the Utes’ chances. But naturally, it all comes down to a bad game (last Saturday) where Travis Wilson didn’t look composed, didn’t look like himself and there was crappy weather. But if the offense comes around like it had for the first two, even three games, I think they can give (UCLA) a run. You date back to last year, even with Wilson’s six interceptions, (the Utes) were still driving down at the end to (attempt to) tie it. So Utah has always been able to fight. Do I think they can win it? Probably not. Maybe they’ll keep it competitive up until the fourth quarter at least, then I think it’ll probably get away from them.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2014/10/04/qa-daily-utah-chronicle-gives-new-insight-into-saturdays-football-game/
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