Ranking 20 Years of UCLA Defensive Coordinators

7 of 12

Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jeff Ulbrich, 2014

Jeff Ulbrich was promoted from linebackers coach to DC after his predecessor left to return to the NFL. Ulbrich and Jim Mora go way back, to when Ulbrich played for the defenses that Mora coordinated with the San Fransicso 49ers.

Ulbrich stayed with the 3-4 that has been a constant under Mora, but he mixed it up with some 4-3 formations (really determined by whether a forward OLB put his hand to the ground or not) as well as some 4-2-5. He also tweaked the defense to be more read-heavy and gap-oriented, giving players the autonomy and responsibility to adjust as the play unfolds. This was his brainchild defensive scheme since back in his playing days, and he was excited to give it a try in his first ever gig as DC.

More: Multiple Bruins Make List for Nagurski and Outland Awards

Statistical Rankings
Year | SOS | SD | TD | DFEI | DS&P+
2014 | 1 | 78 | 61 | 47 | 36

Unfortunately, I don’t know that his ideal defense is a good fit for the college game, with the added responsibilities and limited practice time. It did allow Kendricks and Odighizuwa to have impressive seasons, but the unit as a whole did not perform up to expectations.

It would have been nice for Ulbrich to be able to test this out on a defense at a lower level of competition (G5 or FCS). Instead, he was thrown in over his head as a first-time DC for a top-ten team in the nation’s most offensively sophisticated conference playing the nation’s toughest schedule. The defense took a step back last year as a result, although the difference between scoring and yardage stats and the advanced stats suggest there was an element of bad luck as well.

Where is he now: After the unseemly spectacle with Roquan Smith on signing day, I’m sure none of you need reminding that Ulbrich left this offseason to coach linebackers in the NFL.

Next: The Eye of the Tiger