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UCLA Defensive Players to Watch vs. No. 10 Oregon

These Bruins defenders will be a lot to handle for the Ducks this weekend.

The UCLA defense is a mixed bag this season. The Bruins are in the top 10 in rushing defense in the country but the bottom 10 in passing defense. They are as physical a defensive unit as the Ducks will take on this year. Here are a few players that stand out on the UCLA defense.

1. #45 Mitchell Agude - Linebacker

UCLA linebacker Mitchell Agude (45) is defended by Hawaii offensive lineman Gene Pryor (74).

UCLA linebacker Mitchell Agude (45) is defended by Hawaii offensive lineman Gene Pryor (74).

Mitchell Agude is one of the rising stars in the Pac-12. The JUCO transfer had a breakout year last season with a team-high 9.0 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He especially made a name for himself last year against Oregon when he recorded a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.

Agude has picked up where he left off last year, posting 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three pass breakups, and an FBS-leading four forced fumbles through his first seven games. He's a disruptive player in every facet — he's a force when rushing the passer and is an excellent run stopper. 

The Ducks should make the senior one of their top priorities to try to erase from the game because he can throw away an entire offensive gameplan by invading the backfield and punching the football out.

2. #24 Qwuantrezz Knight - Defensive Back

UCLA defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (24) defends against LSU wide receiver Trey Palmer (33).

UCLA defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (24) defends against LSU wide receiver Trey Palmer (33).

Qwuantrezz Knight is a true do-it-all defensive back for the Bruins. The transfer from Maryland and Kent State leads UCLA with 41 tackles — including 29 solo tackles, good for 10 more than anyone on the team — and is tied for the team-lead with 5.5 tackles for loss. 

Knight also has 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups to his name this season. He plays the striker position — a hybrid linebacker/safety — and has a nose for the football that challenges Agude for the best on the team.

The Bruins disguise their pressures so well that Knight often gets into the backfield quickly and easily. He's also skilled in man coverage, but with how effective the Ducks have been running the football and how lackluster the passing offense has often been, expect Knight to play closer to the line of scrimmage and even as a spy for Anthony Brown.

3. #33 Bo Calvert - Linebacker

UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert (33) waits for a snap against Washington.

UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert (33) waits for a snap against Washington.

Bo Calvert has really had a breakout year so far for UCLA. He is on pace to shatter all of his personal bests for a season, as he has 22 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss (tied for team high), 3.0 sacks, and a pass breakup.

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Calvert is so quick off the line of scrimmage that he can detonate a play on any given snap. Looking at the Fresno State game, there were several instances where he ran unabated into the backfield and either blew up a play or made it much more difficult to execute the play.

Calvert lines up more as an outside linebacker, but he can drop back into coverage and defend the short passing game. Brown will have to keep an eye on Calvert so that he isn't hurried into making a mistake. Getting the ball out quickly will neutralize the pass rush of the UCLA defense, but the Oregon offensive line has been rock solid all year. It will be quite the challenge for the Ducks, however, defending the athletic and powerful front seven of the Bruins.

Bonus: #58 Datona Jackson - Defensive Lineman

UCLA offensive defensive lineman Datona Jackson (58) against Arizona State.

UCLA offensive defensive lineman Datona Jackson (58) against Arizona State.

UCLA's run defense gives up just 91.0 yards per game, and Datona Jackson is one of the anchors up front that limits opponents' rushing offenses every Saturday. At 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, he is a difficult man to move. Jackson isn't the fastest defensive lineman, but he is powerful and surprisingly agile for a man of his size. Just check out his hands and running ability on this interception against Hawaii.

Jackson leads UCLA with 3.5 sacks and also has 3.5 tackles for loss. If the Ducks are to try to run the ball down the throats of the UCLA defense, they will have to fend off Jackson for the entirety of the game.

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