#29 UCLA Football 2016 Preview

UCLA Bruins
Overall Rank: #29
#5 Pac-12
UCLA was not very consistent last season and they lost some tough games to teams like Arizona State and Washington State. And the last we saw of UCLA, they were losing to Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl. But that was a relatively young Bruins squad and the hopes are much higher heading into the 2016 campaign.
2015 Record: 8-5, 5-4
2015 Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl vs. Nebraska (L 29-37)
Coach: Jim Mora (37-16 at UCLA, 37-16 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kennedy Polamalu
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Bradley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Sotonye Jamabo, RB, 404 yards
Passing: Josh Rosen, QB, 3,668 yards
Receiving: Darren Andrews, WR, 443 yards
Tackles: Jayon Brown, LB, 93
Sacks: Takkarist McKinley, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Ishmael Adams, CB, 2; Randall Goforth, S, 2; Jaleel Wadood, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Nate Starks, OL Conor McDermott, LB Kenny Young, CB Marcus Rios, LB Deon Hollins
Key Losses: RB Paul Perkins, WR Jordan Payton, WR Thomas Duarte, DE Kenny Clark, LB Aaron Wallace, K Ka’imi Fairbairn
Quarterback Josh Rosen lived up to all of the hype and threw for 3,668 yards and 23 touchdowns as freshman. His 60.0 percent completion percentage was not bad, but that is a number that should go up during his sophomore season. And his interceptions should go down. The receiving corps lost four of their top five pass catchers, but there are high hopes for the unit anyway in part due to the development of Rosen. Darren Andrews, who caught 43 passes for 443 yards, is the most experienced returning option, but there is plenty of talent. Ishmael Adams can at least spend some time at wide receiver. He spent the last three seasons in the secondary. Theo Howard is a big time recruit and Eldridge Massington figures to get back in the mix after his playing time dropped considerably during his sophomore season. Like the receivers, the group of running backs has talent despite losing some talent. Paul Perkins is gone after rushing for 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns, but Soso Jamabo and Nate Starks earned plenty of playing time last season and are ready to take over. Those two were just as productive as Perkins, but now they will need to do it with more carries.
The Bruins had a terrible time stopping the run last season, ranking eighth in the Pac-12 and 97th in the country in rushing defense. With nose tackle Kenny Clark and linebacker Myles Jack gone, the issue could be even worse in 2016. The return of Eddie Vanderdoes, who missed last season with an injury, will at least add more size to the line. Linebackers Jayon Brown, Isaako Savaiinaea and Deon Hollins are back. Brown and Savaiinaea will get tackles, but they need to get them a little closer to the line of scrimmage if the run defense is going to improve. Hollins is a pass rusher off of the edge who tallied 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles-for-loss last season. The secondary is loaded and should be one of the better pass defenses in the Pac-12. Marcus Rios and Fabian Moreau, who missed most of last season with an injury, are solid cornerbacks and safeties Randall Goforth and Jaleel Wadood combined for 142 tackles and four interceptions last season.
The Bottom Line:
The pass defense needs to be ready this year though. If it becomes tougher to run against the Bruins, they will be tested a lot more through the air. This group in the secondary should be ready for it, but they will certainly have to work a little harder in that case. UCLA should be a team competing for a Pac-12 South title. The schedule helps too. The Bruins avoid Oregon and Washington from the North and get both Stanford and USC at home. The toughest road game will likely be at Washington State and this team is more than talented enough to win that game and potentially every other road game on the schedule.
Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 177.5 (59th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 288.4 (25, 4)
Total Offense: 465.9 (28, 6)
Scoring Offense: 32.2 (45, 7)
Rushing Defense: 198.5 (97, 8)
Pass Defense: 203.2 (36, 1)
Total Defense: 401.7 (67, 5)
Scoring Defense: 26.0 (54, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (66, 9)
Sacks: 2.15 (60, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (15, 1)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#23 Eddie Vanderdoes
#37 Conor McDermott
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#11 Mique Juarez
#62 Theo Howard
#118 Boss Tagaloa
#130 Damian Alloway
#153 Breland Brandt
#163 Lokeni Toailoa
#169 Brandon Burton
#225 Krys Barnes
#236 Darian Owens
#244 Dymond Lee