The 2015 Go Joe Bruin UCLA Football Preview – General Info, Offense, Defense and Special Teams

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Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Myles Jack (30) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. UCLA defeated Arizona State 62-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Last season, the UCLA Football defense was third best in the Pac-12 in total defense. Unfortunately, they were 7th in scoring defense and rushing defense. The Bruins were 4th in passing defense, though that is a bit misleading (as Mark Schipper of points out) with the Bruins being 96th in passing yards allowed per game and 97th in opponent completion percentage.

Things were not as tight as they could be with the defense as first year Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was thrown into the fire of the pass heavy Pac-12. It was not all bad, Utah, Oregon and Stanford not withstanding, but something was missing.

Experience. Ulbrich had some, but not enough, though before he could figure out what it is he needed, he left for a position with the Atlanta Falcons. At the time it was awkward, but from that came the brilliant hiring of Tom Bradley as new Defensive Coordinator. With over 30 years experience — and 11 as a defensive coordinator — this could very well be the best coaching hire Jim Mora has made.

As Schipper puts it, instead of a Colonel taking over, “The General has arrived this year in new defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.”

So what does Bradley have to work with? A lot.

He has so many players that can do so many things at so many positions, it is hard to fathom exactly how good this defense will be (but we will try to paint a proper picture).

Sep 25, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes (47) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

So how about this defensive line that not only features one of the best D-line duos in Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenneth Clark, but a mid-season surprise from 2014 in Takkarist McKinley?

McKinley transferred into UCLA at the best possible time. Though he needed some time to learn his position,  he quickly became a much needed pass rusher. Though he was not fully effective until later in the season, he showed early flashes of speed and pressure that worked well for him and UCLA in later games.

As for Vanderdoes and Clark, not only are they on the same page when it comes to their trench assignments, but they are best buds as well. Expect to see these two gargantuan Bruins making a statement up front in a defense that is going to be fast, effective and quite violent.

What the D-line will do is create havoc up front, allowing the linebackers (which UCLA Football has many) to cause havoc just behind them.

Let us start off with “The Man”, Myles Jack. Pac-12 Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the year in 2013. Pac-12 All-Defense 2nd team member in 2014. Sports Illustrated Preseason All-American in 2015. Jack is a beast and he has made his presence felt in the last two years.

The thing about this season is that Jack will be taking on a bigger role with the departure of UCLA Football’s all-time leading tackler, Eric Kendricks. Jack has been assigned to the ILB position to cover the middle, but we all know Jack cannot be contained. Though he will be asked to do a lot more this season, whether it is pass coverage or one-on-one, look for him to be in on nearly every play and almost every tackle… but that is if he does not need more breaks because he is scoring TDs as a short yardage running back on offense.

More from UCLA Bruins Football

Good news though, Jack is not alone and has a lot of help in the linebacking corps. First off, burn the name Deon Hollins into your memory if have not already from his 3-sack performance against Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl. That was just the topping of what the Bruin’s sack leader could do. This season, know that he will more than likely outdo the 9 sacks from 2014.

As for the other linebackers, it will be interesting to see who cycles in at what point. It seems as though Kenny Young, who is another brutal force for the Bruin LBs, should be get the nod as the third starter of the linebacking crew. Whether the Bruins utilize a fourth LB depends on the structure of the defense each game. If a fourth is on the field, expect one of three Bruins to fill in, Kenny Orjioke, Aaron Wallace or Cameron Griffin.

Oct 18, 2014; Berkeley, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive back Marcus Rios (9) intercepts a pass intended for California Golden Bears wide receiver Kenny Lawler (4) in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. The Bruins defeated the Golden Bears 36-34. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Now here is where it gets interesting, especially concerning the nickel formation. Though Ishmael Adams was a First team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014, he has apparently been beaten out at starting corner by Marcus Rios. A surprise, but not really. Rios has exponentially improved his game over the last year and what he showed in fall camp makes us certain that the secondary will improve from 2014, namely, shutting down the pass.

Adams, who is still a fantastic athlete and will be vital to this Bruin defense and will be a neccessity in the nickel spot. The same goes for Fabian Moreau at the other corner who has looked equally good covering the sidelines.

One of the biggest weapons UCLA returns in the secondary is Randall Goforth who was lost early in 2014 to a shoulder injury, but comes back looking better than last year (especially what he showed us in spring practice). At the other safety, Jaleel Wadood, who exploded onto the scene as a freshman, comes back with high expectations to help lock down the passing game.

Projected Starting Line-Up

— Line of Scrimmage —

DT-Vanderdoes   NT-Clark   DE-McKinley


LB-Jack              LB-Young

CB-Moreau                                                              NB-Adams                   CB-Rios

S-Wadood                         S-Goforth

Roster and Depth Charts

This summer, we had also looked at each position group of the defense, the group roster and projected the depth chart. Click on the position group to view these articles:

Defensive LineLinebackersDefensive Backs

Next: Special Teams