One very important thing we must note with special teams is that they lose the expertise of Jeff Ulbrich. Though it was undetermined how he would have turned out as a Defensive Coordinator, he was one hell of a special teams coach. In 2013, Ulbrich was named the Football Scoop Special Teams Coach of the Year. Though much was to be learned as DC, he had ST covered.
That honor now goes to linebackers coach Scott White who is following in Ulbrich’s path, so to speak. Though the 2014 Special Teams was not as crisp as it was in 2013, experience seems to have UCLA Football back on the right path in 2015.
Kicking & Punting
More from UCLA Bruins Football
- UCLA Football: It’s time for the nation to meet Dante Moore
- UCLA Football: Where are they ranked heading into week 4
- UCLA Football: Position battle breakdown for Utah showdown
- UCLA vs. Utah: Location, time, prediction, and more
- UCLA Football: Highlights from Chip Kelly’s appearance on the Jim Rome Show
Ka’Imi Fairbairn. Polarizing, yes, but this kicker is doing things that will be unexpected of him. First off, though many Bruin fans like to blame him for a few missed kicks in 2014, it is important to know that Fairbairn made 18 0f 22 kicks last season (82%) which tied him for 27th as one of the most efficient kickers in the nation.
On top of that, Fairbairn is riding a streak of 29 straight made field goals from 35 yards or closer. Whether or not you like Fairbairn, just know that he has two pressure packed-seasons of experience with the Bruins, so anything that is thrown his way in 2015, is nothing he has not seen before, which will help him to succeed in 2015.
Though the Bruins had some punting drama before the 2014 season, know that things are settled in this department in 2015. Though Matt Mengel was all over the place in stats, he was consistently secure in his duties. Mengel had UCLA 5th in the conference in net punting (37.9) but was 8th in the Pac-12 with a 40.2 yard average. Not bad for joining the team just before the season.
As for returns, expect Ishmael Adams to continue to dominate (if teams kick to him), but the question is, who will add him, especially on kick returns. Mossi Johnson had proved to be a worthy returner last season, but this past fall, several Bruins had tried out returns, including – cue the drum roll – Myles Jack.
Though this is yet to be seen, imagine what teams will be trying to do if they see both Adams and Jack waiting on the far sir of the field.
Next: Season Outlook