Four takeaways from UCLA football’s win over Stanford

UCLA linebacker Darius Muasau and teammates celebrate after intercepting a pass.

UCLA linebacker Darius Muasau (53) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass from Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena Saturday night.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Muasau delivered a key play early with an interception in the first game of Stanford’s second drive that set up Charbonnet for a 23-yard touchdown on the next snap to put UCLA 14-3 ahead.

The center linebacker said he picked up the game after watching it on film during the bus ride to the stadium. He saw Stanford running against Arizona State last week, trying to get linebackers to bite on the run. Muasau didn’t take the bait.

“He’s a really instinctive football player,” Kelly said. “He’s one of those guys who calls out plays before they happen because he studies so much tape.”

Muasau transferred to UCLA after consecutive 100-tackle seasons in Hawaii. He is now UCLA’s second-leading tackler with 52 stops and leads the team with two interceptions. Kelly called him “the rock we build everything around” in defense.

UCLA has bred elite linebacker talent under previous coaching staffs for years, but has struggled to find stability in the position under Kelly, who has relied mostly on transfers like Muasau to fill the crucial defensive role.

“It means a lot to me to take on this role,” said Muasau. “The Mike’ Backer, I see it as the quarterback’s role on defense. I’m very proud of that. I lead this defense. You call me and I call you. … I really try to show every game for them. Not just for me, but also for my teammates.” Four takeaways from UCLA football’s win over Stanford

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