2018 Oklahoma Football Opponent Preview | UCLA Bruins

Head Coach: Chip Kelly (0-0)

2017 Record: 6-7 (4th in Pac-12 South)

Offensive Scheme: Spread

Defensive Scheme: 3-4 Base

Key Offensive Losses: QB Josh Rosen, RB Jalen Starks (Transfer), WR Jordan Lasley, WR Darren Andrews, OT Kenny Lacy, OT Kolton Miller, OG Najee Toran, C Scott Quessenberry,

Key Defensive Losses: DT Matt Dickerson, DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, LB Kenny Young, LB DeChaun Holiday (Transfer), S Jaleel Wadood

Chip Kelly is back in the world of college football and, after failing to find the same level of success in the NFL, it’s clear that this is where he belongs. Still in the honeymoon phase of his new gig, the question isn’t CAN Kelly replicated the success he had at Oregon? Rather, it’s HOW QUICKLY can he replicate that success?

Year one is going to be difficult as the offensive mastermind has little experience to work with as he implements new schemes. Not only did the Bruins lose Josh Rosen to the NFL but multiple skill position players are gone as well as the majority of the offensive line.

Still though, the future is bright in Los Angeles as UCLA begins the climb to take over the spotlight from their crosstown foes. The Bruins open their season by hosting Cincinnati before coming to Norman a week later for their first major test.

NFL Influence? 

Kelly’s offense didn’t work in the NFL. Sure, there are lots of reasons why, some schematic and some personnel, but the reality is that he’s back in the collegiate ranks for a reason. That said, how much, if any, will Kelly bring from his NFL experience to UCLA?

Are we to expect the high-flying Oregon Duck offense we came to know under his direction, or will the Bruin attack be somewhat of a hybrid? Truth be told, we probably won’t know the answer to that until UCLA takes the field in Norman during the second week of the season.

Offensive Outlook

UCLA

 2017 Offensive Leaders
Passing Yards Rushing Yards Receiving Yards
 Josh Rosen 3,717 Bolu Olorunfunmi 542 Jordan Lasley 1,136

Not only does Kelly have to find a way to resurrect UCLA’s rushing attack, behind an inexperienced offensive line, but he’s also got to find a quarterback and receivers. Top receiving targets Jordan Lasley and Darren Andrews are gone as well as five offensive linemen, including all-conference selections tackle Kolton Miller (a top-15 draft pick), center Scott Quessenberry (a fifth-rounder), and guard Najee Toran. Talk about starting from scratch!

Kelly’s offensive rebuild most likely happens around running backs Bolu Olorunfunmi and Soso Jamabo. The duo has never been dynamic, but they showed steady improvement from 2016 to 2017 and will be two of the most experienced players within the offense. They both averaged over 5.0 yards per carry last season and scored a combined 11 touchdowns.

Still though, even with talent in the backfield, Kelly has to find a quarterback and there’s no shortage of options. Sophomore Devon Modster is the only quarterback on the roster to have thrown a pass in an UCLA uniform. Michigan transfer Wilton Speight was playing at a high level in 2016 before injuries ended his season. Redshirt freshman Austin Burton looked strong in the spring. And then there’s incoming freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson who is a Kelly recruit.

 2017 Offensive Stastics
 PPG  RYPG  PYPG  TYPG
32.4 113.4 344.46 457.8

Whoever ends up being the quarterback will have Caleb Wilson and Theo Howard as targets. The two were the third and fourth leading receivers respectively in 2017 and are ready to breakout in 2018. Wilson averaged 12.9 yards per reception and Howard 9.9.

Kelly’s offense won’t be able to take off though if he can’t provide an adequate offensive line. Junior tackle Andre James and sophomore guard Michael Alves are the two returning starters from a year ago. Former defensive tackle Boss Tagaloa is swapping sides of the ball to try and fill one of the voids but that still leaves the Bruins with two spots open on the line.

                                  2018 UCLA Schedule
 Date  Opponent
 September 1  Cincinnati
 September 8  at Oklahoma
 September 15  Fresno State
 September 28  at Colorado
 October 6  Washington
 October 13  at Cal
 October 20  Arizona
 October 26  Utah
 November 3  at Oregon
 November 10  at Arizona State
 November 17  USC
 November 24  Stanford

Defensive Outlook

UCLAD

 

 2017 Defensive Leaders
Tackles Total Sacks Total INTs Total
Kenny Young 110 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner 7.5 Darnay Holmes 3

Things are a little more solid on the defensive side of the ball where UCLA wasn’t quite ravaged by departures. New defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro was Kelly’s defensive line coach in Oregon, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. He’ll get started with a wealth of experienced players to work with.

Linebackers Krys Barnes and Josh Woods are two of the more experienced players on the defense and will take leadership roles on the field.

Safety Adarius Pickett and corners Nate Meadors and Darnay Holmes combined for seven tackles for loss, five interceptions, and 15 pass breakups last year.

Defensive ends Chigozie Nnoruk and Marcus Moore combined for 14 tackles for loss and three sacks last year.

The Bruins were plagued by the injury bug on defense last season, resulting in them struggling heavily in both the pass and the rush. By the end of the season UCLA’s run defense was a non-factor as exhibited by Kansas State racking up 344 yards on the ground in the Cactus Bowl.

The good news is that all of the parts are there for immediate improvement in 2018.

 2017 Defensive Stastics
 PPG  RYPG  PYPG  TYPG
36.62 287.4 196.31 483.7

Special Teams

UCLAST

 

Kicker JJ Molson was 17-of-21 on field goals last season and could end up being one of the top kickers in the Pac-12. Stefan Flintoft took control of the punting duties mid-season last year and averaged 42.9 yards per kick.

Sophomore Darnay Holmes and senior Adarius Pickett will have first crack at getting UCLA’s return game going this fall.

 

3 Replies to “2018 Oklahoma Football Opponent Preview | UCLA Bruins”

  1. UCLA may be a Power 5 program, but the Bruins are not a team that I’d be concerned with at the moment

    1. Maybe not but if anyone can make lemonade from those lemons then it’ll be Chip Kelly.

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