UCLA Football: A Season In Review


Jan 2, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins (24) runs the ball for a touchdown during the second half of the 2015 Alamo Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Alamodome. The Bruins won 40-35. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, there you have it. UCLA Football’s 2014 campaign has come to a close and through it’s ups and downs, we can say comfortably that it was a moderate success. 10 wins, 3 losses, and way too many close calls that lead to a January bowl berth and a great win over a great team in Kansas State. From week one against Virginia, where the Bruin offense was nearly non-existent, to a scare against Memphis that saw no defense, this season was a roller coaster along the toughest schedule in the nation — and Jim Mora said it best after the Alamo Bowl.

"“We won 10 games this year with the toughest schedule in college football. We played 10 bowl teams, including Kansas State.”"

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Sure, the Bruins were a top-10 team in the preseason, and sure they were dubbed a dark-horse title contender, but they by no means failed this season. Their three losses have come to teams that combined to go 3-0 in bowl season (with a potential for Oregon to go 4-0 this Monday, should they win the national championship), and while disappointing, all but one seemed possible heading into the match-up. Against Oregon and Stanford, prior to this years games, UCLA had not earned a win in the Mora era — and that didn’t change. Nonetheless, Oregon is shaping up to be the best team in America, while Stanford’s style of play has always troubled the Bruins — not to mention they were playing great football towards the end of the season and their match-up with UCLA. Utah, on the other hand, seemed like easy prey for Brett Hundley and his crew, but they didn’t role over on their backs; in fact, they surprised a lot of people this season. So with 10 wins that include USC and K-State, 2014 was a pretty good year for UCLA Football. Here’s how we at Go Joe Bruin breakdown the team play this year.

A-. Througout the course of the season, it was the offense that kept the Bruins alive in late games that should have been over long before they were. A late TD run secured the victory at Colorado, and a flurry of explosive plays at ASU earned UCLA a signature win for the year. Sure, it sputtered at times, and yes, Noel Mazzone wasn’t perfect as far as play-calling was concerned, but ten wins that saw a few high scoring games earned the offense this respect.. Group. Offense.

B-. The defense did their job — most of the time, bending but not breaking and playing stoutly in the red-zone, but when the game against Utah was on the line, the defense was nowhere to be found. A win would have earned UCLA a spot in the top-5 as far as rankings are concerned, but a loss was a sure embarrassment to a not yet recognized Utah team. After UCLA finally caught a break and took the lead, the defense let Utah go on a long, extensive, game winning drive to knock UCLA out of contention early on.. Group. Defense.

Section. Linebackers. . A. It’s hard to ask for anything more from this special group of guys at “Linebacker-U”, but they weren’t perfect. Behind Eric Kendricks nation leading 96 solo tackles and Myles Jack’s outstanding speed and coverage abilities, this section of the defense was rock solid. Regardless, penalties that kept opposition drives alive are simply unacceptable, and Jack had a few too many this season.

Early on, it seemed like the Bruin defensive backs were going to be a liability, with Fabian Moreau getting burnt in the season opener against Virginia, but as time went on, the unit stabilized. A game securing interception against Cal and many moments of quality football lead to a fairly successful season for UCLA’s DBs.. Section. DBs. . B

B. When it mattered most, the defensive line was there, run stuffing and pressuring quarterbacks into arrant throws or tough runs, but at other times the pass rush was virtually non-existent. The inconsistency was huge this season, but they earned an A+ against Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl.. Section. Defensive Line.

B-. The O-Line grew and developed as the season progressed, learning from an atrocious night at the Rose Bowl when the Utes dragged Brett Hundley down ten times in the backfield. By late in the year, this unit was in sync and functional, minus the absurd penalty yardage. . Section. Offensive Line.

Quarterbacks. . A+. Well, time with Brett Hundley at UCLA has come to a close, and boy was it a fun ride. Leading the nation in completion percentage for most of the season wasn’t easy, and neither was Jerry Neuheisel’s comeback victory against Texas that will be ingrained in our minds for decades to come.. Section

C+. In the clutch, Jordan Payton came through. On breakaway streaks, Kenny Walker came through. On anything else, Thomas Duarte came through; but as a whole, the wideouts dropped way to many passes this season and failed to get separation that ultimately lead to drive stalling sacks of the quarterback. Poor execution on a weekly basis earned the hands team their grade.. Section. Wideouts.

What more could you have asked of Paul Perkins this season? His health was never an issue, he put away the K-State game, and, oh yeah, he quietly lead the PAC-12 in rushing. Behind him, aside from a fumble by Jordon James that proved meaningless, James and Nate Iese played extremely well as-well.. Section. Runningbacks. . A+

So there you have it, the GJB breakdown of the season. It’s time we look now to our calenders and count down until spring training.