#10 UCLA Football 2014 Preview

UCLA Bruins

Overall Rank: #10
#3 Pac-12

UCLA Team Page#10 UCLA Football 2014 PreviewBuy UCLA Football Tickets

The 2013 season was really a remarkable one for the UCLA Bruins. A win over a ranked Nebraska squad was the feather in the cap of the team's 5-0 start. They went on to finish 10-3 with all three losses coming against top-20 competition. Of course, if just one of those losses (at Stanford, at Oregon or vs. Arizona State) had been a victory, UCLA would have been rewarded with something slightly better than a trip to the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve. Alas, that is the nature of the current Pac-12 conference, which is as top heavy as any in the nation. Things don't appear much different this season. The only bone thrown the Bruins' direction is that they will host both Stanford and Oregon this season.

2013 Record: 10-3, 6-3
2013 Bowl:  Sun Bowl vs. Virginia Tech (W 42-12 )
Coach: Jim Mora (19-8 at UCLA, 19-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Noel Mazzone
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brett Hundley, QB, 748 yards
Passing: Brett Hundley, QB, 3071 yards
Receiving: Devin Fuller, WR, 471 yards
Tackles: Eric Kendricks, LB, 105
Sacks: Three players tied with 2.0
Interceptions: Ishmael Adams, DB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB/LB Myles Jack, RB Paul Perkins, RB Jordon James, OL Jake Brendel, DB Anthony Jefferson, DB Randall Goforth

Key Losses: WR Shaq Evans, LB Anthony Barr, LB Jordan Zumwalt, DL Cassius Marsh

UCLA was a team of stars last year. The things it did well were the things its star players excelled at. At quarterback, Brett Hundley proved himself to be one of the more versatile and explosive QBs in the country. He threw for over 3,000 yards and completed more than 67 percent of his passes. He also led the team in rushing to boot, with 748 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground alone. It was a masterful season for Hundley; one that many assumed would propel him into the early parts of the NFL draft. Instead, Hundley decided to double down and return to school for another season. But while the offense kept its leader, the defense said goodbye to its star. LB/DE Anthony Barr made up about one third of the team's production in sacks per game, a figure that had substantial weight in UCLA finishing with one of the best pass defenses and one of the best turnover margins in the conference. The Bruins also excelled at many hidden parts of the game: third-down conversions, blocks in the kicking game, as well as many other facets of special teams.

Of course, not all the little things were done well by this squad. UCLA was the most penalized team in the entire Pac-12 for the season and on a per-game basis. It also had an offensive line to forget. Hundley's ability to move around and avoid trouble helped make the unit's production tolerable, but UCLA finished outside the top 100 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss allowed. It's surprising that a team so undisciplined and with a porous line could excel, but that's the power of talent at the skill positions. It may also go a long way towards explaining why UCLA fell short against a number of its top foes last season and could again this coming year if changes aren't made. Players like Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack will need to step in and become the defensive stars of the 2014 season, partly to cover the departure of Barr and partly to cover up some of the weaknesses this team had.

The Bottom Line:
The return of Brett Hundley alone raised the ceiling of this squad in 2014. Starting over at the quarterback position would have set the Bruins back a ways. Instead, it will be the top defensive player who needs to be replaced, but in today's football, that is a much easier task to accomplish. If the linebackers that are returning step their games up a level, there is no reason UCLA can't compete with the likes of Stanford and Oregon this year. It will also be a huge boost if UCLA masters the mental game a bit better by limiting penalties and focusing up more on first down defense. Sometimes it's the little things that keep a team from being great.

Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 196.6 (35th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 251.8 (43, 7)
Total Offense: 448.5 (38, 7)
Scoring Offense: 36.9 (20, 4)
Rushing Defense: 169.5 (71, 8)
Pass Defense: 217.6 (40, 3)
Total Defense: 387.1 (54, 5)
Scoring Defense: 23.2 (35, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (17, 2)
Sacks: 2.46 (32, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.77 (105, 10)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#10 Brett Hundley
#73 Eric Kendricks

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#75 Zach Whitley
#104 Jaleel Wadood
#147 Austin Roberts
#160 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
#164 Kenny Young
#167 Ainuu Taua
#181 Adarius Pickett


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