I love the uptempo offense of UCLA football. It is fast, exciting and has done wonders for the program. Unfortunately it has not been completely successful against certain teams and match-ups.
Let us take the Stanford Cardinal for example. They execute a tough, grind-it-out style of play on both offense and defense. In the last seven games against Stanford, UCLA has won zero and has not really been close in any of them except for one.
Last season, UCLA football suffered their first loss of the season five games in when they met a brutal Utah team with a great defense and a punishing defensive line. Something similar happened the following week when UCLA took it on the chin from the Oregon Ducks, though not a power offense team, they did have a defense that was unforgiving and tough up front.
The point of all this… UCLA needs to incorporate more of a power offense.
First off, the Bruins already have a particular power package, one that was made famous by linebacker Myles Jack and a few other Bruin defenders like Eddie Vanderdoes and Cassius Marsh. The thing about it is that it is sparingly used, mostly to get Jack some short yardage.
Secondly, the UCLA football offense could benefit from properly developing a power package that does not necessarily revolve around Jack and use defensive linemen as lead blockers (primarily to limit injures). UCLA has done a fabulous job recruiting in recent years and have brought in a variety of players that have the athleticism to play different positions and fill in those spots the Bruins do not often utilize.
UCLA could benefit from having more power formation plays, especially when they need to match-up better against tough defenses like Stanford and Utah.
For example, UCLA was able to get a commitment from the top tight end in high school last year, Chris Clark. Though the Bruins will use the services of TE/Y-receiver Thomas Duarte to start, having a traditional TE like Clark will allow the Bruins to do more than they have in the last several years… like having a 2-TE set.
Another example has to do with the use of a bigger running back and/or fullback. The Bruins are deep with talent at the running back position and could utilize a 2-RB (maybe even three) set easily. For finesse, you go with Paul Perkins. For power, you could set-up Nate Starks or either freshman Soso Jamabo or Bolu Olorunfunmi in that power back position (pending they can handle the needs of such a position, especially blocking).
Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly, this power formation might be needed more out of necessity than as a gimmick/short-yardage formation. I love watching the Bruins perform in their spread offense and we do not exactly know how freshman QB Josh Rosen will perform in it, but offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone needs to throw in some more wrinkles like this. He has done it in the past and it has been quite effective with it (i.e.: the first half of the Alamo Bowl against Kansas State which led to a 31-6 halftime lead by UCLA) so it seems any addition like this would be of good use to UCLA football.
Now I am not saying switch over to a power offense because the Bruins have a good thing going for them with the spread, but UCLA could seriously benefit from having more power formation plays, especially when they need to match-up better against tough defenses like Stanford and Utah.
The season is still a long way away, but looking ahead, it is obvious that the Bruins are going to have to take a different approach to certain games, Stanford and Utah being two of those games. Though it is possible that they can win on their already established offense, having more power to their game could only help them.