The defense of UCLA football is really good. It has even gotten so much better since defensive minded UCLA head football coach, Jim Mora, took over and implemented a 3-4 defense. To add, he has done a bang-up job of recruiting big, fast and talented players. But this season sees a change from last year’s dominant performance on two levels: the loss of several key players like Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh and Jordan Zumwalt and the promotion of new Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Despite these changes, this may be the best Bruin defense they ever had… and it starts with the UCLA Defensive Line.
Here is the GJB projected depth chart for Bruins D-Line:
|Left End||Nose Tackle||Right End|
|Owamagbe Odighizuwa||Kenneth Clark||Eddie Vanderdoes|
|Ellis McCarthy||Eli Ankou||Kylie Fitts|
|Jacob Tuioti-Mariner*||Ainuu Taua*||Matt Dickerson*|
|Ian Taubler||Zach Vinci||Thomas Schwab|
*incoming freshman, possible redshirt
The First Lines Of Defense
UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure has a talented group that is at least two-deep. At most, there could be four guys available for each spot on the line, but the biggest story is that of the return of Owamagbe Odighizuwa. The Bruin’s defensive end was ruled out of the 2013 season with an injury and needed hip surgery, which pushed his last year of eligibility to this coming season. In 2012, he played in every game for UCLA and was ninth on the team with 44 tackles. His return is not only huge for depth, but his skills will help the Bruins in claiming the best defensive line in the Pac-12.
Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenneth Clark were huge gets for the Burins in the 2013 recruiting class and it paid off immediately. Both played in every game in 2013, combining for 70 tackles with 8.5 for a loss. Needless to say, they will be playing a majority of time in the starting spots with Odighizuwa. McCarthy was the team’s most improved player last season and recorded 39 tackles with four for a loss. As one of the biggest Bruins on the D-line, McCarthy should be cycled into the starting line-up more often than not, but has a big job in supporting Odighizuwa.
Three Ferocious Freshmen
All of these kids are smart and big and fast and that is going to be vital to the Bruin’s future success. Dickerson, Taua and Tuioti-Mariner were all highly-touted four-star recruits out of high school and if any one of them get up to speed sooner than later, they may see a lot of time as freshmen like Vanderdoes and Clark did last season. Taua, who is the shortest of the three, is the biggest of them all and should be able to contend for a few goes at Nose Tackle. If these freshmen do not redshirt, they will make the defensive line very deep.
Depth In The Line
Fitts and Ankou had limited experience last season as they combined for only 8 games. Both looked improved in Spring Practice and should have a bigger role in UCLA’s game plan this season. Taubler is a converted tight end that has not seen action since 2012, mostly battling concussive symptoms. Jones, Schwab and Vinci have not seen time on the field.
Here is the Defensive Line Roster:
|Eli Ankou||96||6'3"||295 lbs.||R-So.|
|Kenneth Clark||97||6'3"||315 lbs.||So.|
|Matt Dickerson||---||6'5"||260 lbs.||Fr.|
|Kylie Fitts||93||6'4"||275 lbs.||So.|
|Jake Jones||85||6'4"||235 lbs.||R-So.|
|Ellis McCarthy||90||6'5"||330 lbs.||Jr.|
|Owamagbe Odighizuwa||94||6'3"||270 lbs.||R-Sr.|
|Ainuu Taua||---||6'1"||270 lbs.||Fr.|
|Ian Taubler||87||6'4"||240 lbs.||R-So.|
|Jacob Tuioti-Mariner||---||6'4"||265 lbs.||Fr.|
|Thomas Schwab||89||6'3"||243 lbs.||R-Fr.|
|Eddie Vanderdoes||47||6'4"||310 lbs.||So.|
|Zach Vinci||71||6'1"||240 lbs.||R-Jr.|