UCLA Football: Grading The Bruins' Defense Vs. California

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For our look at the UCLA offense, go here

UCLA’s defensive effort against California last Saturday proved to be at the lowest of the season thus far. Cal scored 43 points on a Bruin defense that had not allowed an opponent to score over 30 all season and had allowed around 20 points per game prior to their match-up with the Golden Bears.

California, meanwhile, averaged around 25 points a game, a number that might be skewed due to a 50-point performance  in what most fans believe was an unconvincing win against Southern Utah.

Prior to this game, Zach Maynard was considered one of the worst quarterbacks in the Pac-12 and the California offensive line had proved to be a trainwreck, allowing Maynard to get sacked 25 teams, a conference high.

Things changed, though. Zach Maynard threw for nearly 300 yards, tossed four touchdowns and completed all but five of his 30 throws. The Bears also utilized their ground game effectively, earning over 180 yards rushing on a Bruin defense that has done fairly well against the rush this season.

Overall, the performance defensively was lackluster, but it was not in the least bit surprising given Bruins fans — myself included — expectations and worries prior to the season beginning.

Here are the grades for the UCLA defense against Berkeley.

Defensive Line: B

Although Cal may have gained over 180 yards on the ground, the defensive line was actually a bright spot for the UCLA defense.

Because while the Bears earned those yards, over 150 came from running back C.J. Anderson, and half of those yards — 68 yards, to be exact — came on a single carry. Excluding Anderson’s 68-yard carry, he averaged 4.15 yards per touch, and that’s around where Cal would be had there not been a lapse in the defense.

The ground game was fantastic for the Bruins. Of course, the passing game was a different story.

That, however, was primarily due to Jeff Tedford’s playcalling, which was fabulous due to the fact that it masked California’s woes on the offensive line. Short routes, bootlegs and play action enabled Zach Maynard to get the ball out quick enough and get into space to be able to make the throws he’s capable of making when protected well.

But the line deserves a bit of criticism: It was sometimes overaggressive and found itself scrambling on play-actions, and they weren’t exactly getting off the line as fast as we’d seen them before.

At the end of the day, the defensive line shouldn’t be the designated goat in this game. Led by a stellar performance from Cassius Marsh, the line held its own, even if they were negated due to Tedford further exposing UCLA’s weakest positions on defense.

The Linebackers>>>

The Secondary>>>

Overall Grade>>>

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