#25 UCLA Football 2017 Preview


UCLA Bruins


Overall Rank: #25

#4 Pac-12

UCLA will be looking to atone for a horrendous 4-8 season in 2016 as everything that could go wrong did for the Bruins. Josh Rosen missed the majority of the second half of the season due to injury and UCLA could not generate anything in the running game so opposing defenses were able to tee off on the Bruins all day long. With a difficult schedule in the month of September, it is going to be very important that UCLA gets off to a decent start to avoid another losing record in 2017.
2016 Record: 4-8, 2-7
2016 Bowl: None
Coach: Jim Mora (41-24 at UCLA, 41-24 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jedd Fisch
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Bradley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Soso Jamabo, RB, 321 yards
Passing: Josh Rosen, QB, 1,915 yards
Receiving: Darren Andrews, WR, 709 yards
Tackles: Kenny Young, LB, 90
Sacks: Kenny Young, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Adarius Pickett, SS, 3
Other Key Returnees:  C Scott Quessenberry, RG Najee Toran, LG Kenny Lacy, LT Andre James, WR Eldridge Massington, DT Matt Dickerson, DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, CB Nate Meadors, FS Jaleel Wadood, K J.J. Molson
Key Losses:  DE Takkarist McKinley, CB Fabian Moreau, DT Eddie Vanderdoes, LB Jayon Brown, OT Conor McDermott, CB Randall Goforth, LB Deon Hollins, WR Kenny Walker
Josh Rosen’s ability to stay healthy for a full season will go along in way in dictating the overall success of the UCLA offense in 2017. Rosen has all the ability in the world and when he is on the Bruins are tough to slow down in the passing game. However, if the offensive line does not improve in 2017 and keep Rosen upright it will all be for naught. Center Scott Quessenberry is the best returning player along the offensive line and will need to lead a group of returning veterans that underachieved last season. Darren Andrews should see plenty of balls thrown his way in 2017 as Andrews was solid in 2016, catching 55 passes. Eldridge Massington and Jordan Lasley will push Andrews for the number one wide receiver position and will need to make big plays right away in the passing game. The running back position will be very competitive. Soso Jamabo is the leading retuning rusher from 2016 with 321 yards. Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi should get plenty of touches early on in games as well.
There will be some rebuilding to do for defensive coordinator Tom Bradley this season. Kenny Young leads a group of defensive players that will be young but very talented, if you are a believer in recruiting services and how they rank players coming out of high school. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and incoming freshman Jaelan Phillips are going to be expected to lead the defensive line and create havoc all game long. Strong safety Adarius Pickett will lead a secondary that will be tested right away and Pickett will be looking to build off his three-interception performance from 2016.
The Bottom Line:
Texas A&M will visit on September 3rd to open the 2017 season for UCLA. The Bruins and Aggies met in the 2016 season opener in College Station with Texas A&M pulling out a 31-24 victory in overtime. This should be an even matchup where turnovers or special teams miscues could potentially be the difference. Thus, it will be important for sophomore kicker J.J. Molson to be more consistent right away in 2017. Two weeks later a two-game road trip begins with a long trip to Memphis followed by a trip to Palo Alto to play Stanford. Those are very vital swing type of games. A sweep of these two games will set the Bruins up for a chance to win nine or ten games. Another brutal stretch of the schedule for UCLA will begin on October 28th at Washington followed a trip to Utah on a short week and then two weeks later the annual battle with USC. Look for about eight regular season wins for the Bruins and they should hang around the back end of the top 25 or just outside of it all year long.
Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 84.3 (127th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 295.6 (19, 3)
Total Offense: 379.8 (91, 10)
Scoring Offense: 24.9 (96, 11)
Rushing Defense: 171.5 (63, 8)
Pass Defense: 210.5 (43, 3)
Total Defense: 382.0 (47, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.5 (59, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.17 (82, 9)
Sacks: 2.08 (61, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (57, 4)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#4 Josh Rosen
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#2 Jaelan Phillips
#20 Darnay Holmes
#92 Greg Rogers
#240 Stephen Zabie