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UCLA Position Previews — Offense

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Players to watch
QB Brett Hundley, LB/Apparently RB Myles Jack, WR Shaq Evans

Notable injuries/absences
RB Roosevelt Davis (Questionable—foot), OT Simon Goines (Questionable—knee), RB Steven Manfro (Questionable—ankle), OT Conor McDermott (Questionable—shoulder), WR Damien Thigpen (Questionable—leg), WR Kenny Walker (Out—back), OT Torian White (Out—ankle)

The Bruins are well positioned to make their third consecutive appearance in the Pac-12 conference championship game this year thanks to an efficient offense that has scored touchdowns on nearly 70 percent of its trips into the red zone, and a quarterback who completes 71.4 percent of his throws when playing at the Rose Bowl. UCLA appears to be Washington's toughest opponent remaining on the schedule, and the Huskies will have to shake their road woes and play a complete game if they hope to escape Westwood with a win.

If Steve Sarkisian was a fisherman instead of a head football coach, Brett Hundley would undoubtedly be the subject of his favorite story about The One That Got Away. The 6-4 phenom from Chandler, Ariz., was one of Washington's biggest targets for the 2011 class, and has proved himself worthy of his five-star ranking as a high school recruit. As the Bruins' QB, Hundley has led his team to a 16-7 record in his two years as a starter, and entered the 2013 season as a dark horse Heisman candidate on the strength of his dual-threat abilities. Washington has struggled mightily in recent seasons against mobile quarterbacks, and Oregon's Marcus Mariota provides a glimpse of what Hundley might be able to do against Washington if Justin Wilcox isn't able to put his players into better positions to minimize Hundley's effectiveness as a runner.

When Hundley isn't running the ball himself, he's typically handed it off to Jordon James or Paul Perkins. James has been banged up for much of the year with a nagging ankle injury, already missing four games, and while it's expected that he'll play against Washington, it's difficult to believe that he's going to see more than a handful of snaps. Perkins has made the most of his opportunities, but a subpar offensive line (more on that in a minute) has limited his effectiveness in the backfield, having not earned more than 100 yards in a single game this year. (Though to be fair, he's carried the ball just 91 times in nine games.) What Washington fans will really dread seeing is Bellevue High School product Myles Jack, a likely All American linebacker who took six carries against Arizona last week for 120 yards and a touchdown. Though his offensive package was likely prepared as little more than an additional wrinkle for opposing defensive coordinators to prepare for, Jack was so successful in his carries last week that it seems foolish to think that he wouldn't get the chance to do so again.

UCLA's receiving corps consists primarily of Shaq Evans, Devin Fuller, and everyone's favorite 24-hour Washington commit, Jordan Payton. The three have accounted for 49 percent of the team's receptions, and Evans in particular is their biggest scoring threat, having caught seven of UCLA's 19 touchdown passes. This isn't the kind of offense that you could throw Marcus Peters at their best wide receiver and call it a day—if Washington tries to do that, UCLA has the kind of talented athletes that will take advantage of any lapse that they see. Of course, Washington's defenders could shut down every receiver, and they would still have to worry about Hundley's scrambling ability. Like it or not, this is the aspect of the game that Washington needs to win if they are to have any chance of beating the Bruins.

As I mentioned above, UCLA's offensive line has had its share of struggles this year, many of which can be traced back to the fact that they start true freshman at left guard, right guard and right tackle. After allowing 52 sacks last season, they've improved considerably to allow 21 through nine games this season, though that still puts them on pace to finish in the conference's bottom half. Until they improve their run blocking and get healthy, though, this is a line that will be associated with a fairly one-dimensional passing attack; luckily for the Bruins, when Hundley is protected, they execute that one dimension very, very well.


As always, thanks to College Football StatisticsESPN and USA Today's College Football Injury Report for the relevant data that went into this article. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking below.

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