#11 UCLA Football 2015 Preview

UCLA Bruins

Overall Rank: #11
#3 Pac-12

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The Bruins have seemingly been building for the 2015 season. Last year they went 10-3 overall, including a victory over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl. There is a slew of talent returning on both sides of the ball and UCLA looked like the class of the Pac-12 before quarterback Brett Hundley opted to go to the NFL. Replacing a three-year starter at quarterback is never easy and especially difficult when that quarterback leaves after his junior year. But the Bruins have the talent on both sides of the ball to still compete with Oregon and USC for a Pac-12 title and potentially more.

2014 Record: 10-3, 6-3
2014 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Kansas State (W 40-35)
Coach: Jim Mora (29-11 at UCLA, 29-11 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Noel Mazzone
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Bradley

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Paul Perkins, RB, 1,575 yards
Passing: Jerry Neuheisel, QB, 194 yards
Receiving: Jordan Payton, WR, 954 yards
Tackles: Myles Jack, LB, 88
Sacks: Deon Hollins, LB, 9.0
Interceptions: Ishmael Adams, LB, 2; Marcus Rios, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Devin Fuller, WR Thomas Duarte, OL Jake Brendel, S Jaleel Wadood, DL Kenny Clark, CB Fabian Moreau, K Ka’imi Fairbairn

Key Losses: QB Brett Hundley, LB Eric Kendricks, S Anthony Jefferson, DL Owamagbe Odighizuwa

The defense lost some leaders with lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa, linebacker Eric Kendricks and safety Anthony Jefferson, but there are plenty of others ready to step into leadership roles. The pass rush will be potent with rush linebacker Deon Hollins and linemen Takkarist McKinley and Eddie Vanderdoes leading the way. Hollins led the team with 9.0 sacks in 2014 and Vanderdoes is a superb talent when healthy. McKinley missed some of last season due to eligibility issues after coming in from the junior college ranks. With a full offseason in the program, expect bigger things from the talented defensive end. The star at linebacker will be Myles Jack. The two-way player totaled 88 tackles last season and will move inside for his junior campaign. The secondary has a potential superstar in free safety Jaleel Wadood. He showed a lot of promise as a freshman. With Randall Goforth and Tahaan Goodman at safety and Priest Willis, Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams at cornerback, UCLA does not lack in talent or experience in the secondary.

Replacing Hundley is the obvious question for UCLA heading into the 2015 season. Hundley threw for 3,155 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. Those are good numbers in this offense, but he also completed 69.1 percent of his pass attempts and threw a mere five interceptions. Freshman Josh Rosen is easily the most talented quarterback on the roster, but Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard are, technically, still in the race to replace Hundley. With top receivers Jordan Payton, Thomas Durate and Devin Fuller back, the new quarterback has plenty of weapons to work with. But even with a struggling passing game, UCLA has options. Running back Paul Perkins led the Pac-12 with 1,575 rushing yards. He will need to punch balls into the end zone now though since Hundley (644 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) took a lot of the goal line carries. With all five starters back on the line, running the ball should not be a problem at all as long as the passing game is at least a little bit of a threat.

The Bottom Line:
The Bruins have a pretty tough schedule with road trips to Arizona, Stanford, Utah and USC. That game at Arizona could be particularly dangerous since it is the conference opener and the Bruins may not have their quarterback situation completely settled by that point. By the time the USC game rolls around in late November, UCLA’s freshman quarterback will probably have 11 starts under his belt and be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference. The key will be surviving the early tests and remaining in the race for a Pac-12 South title and possibly a place in the playoffs.

Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 209.5 (32nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 258.3 (42, 9)
Total Offense: 467.8 (22, 4)
Scoring Offense: 33.5 (34, 6)
Rushing Defense: 147.9 (42, 7)
Pass Defense: 250.6 (93, 4)
Total Defense: 398.5 (63, 3)
Scoring Defense: 28.1 (75, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (59, 8)
Sacks: 2.23 (55, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 3.15 (114, 12)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#19 Myles Jack
#58 Kenny Clark
#81 Eddie Vanderdoes

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#12 Josh Rosen
#13 Keisean Lucier-South
#20 Soso Jamabo
#65 Chris Clark
#80 Dechaun Holiday
#113 Josh Wariboko
#131 Fred Ulu-Perry Jr.


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