UCLA Football: Is The Defense Getting Worse?


The UCLA Football defense looked not so great against Arizona, but they do have three starters out for the season. Is this a sign that the Bruin D is getting worse?

Now look, I am still all about this Bruin defense. UCLA Football began a new phase this year as they rung in the Tom Bradley era. Having a defensive specialist run a squad of deep and talented defenders was every Bruin fan’s dream. Buuuuuut, there have been a few snags in that plan.

RELATED: ESPN Underestimated UCLA Football

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

First, Eddie Vanderdoes tore his ACL in the first game of the season. That one hurt on many levels. Not only was Vanderdoes done for the year, but he had a team high 6 tackles (in only three quarters) in what looked to be a very promising season.

Then there was the double-roundhouse kick to the soul — losing Fabian Moreau on Tuesday, September 23, and then waking up on the 24th to find out Myles Jack was done for the season. The news alone about Jack was horrendous, but then to have a third defensive starter go down for UCLA Football this year is unbelievable.

The result of it, one of the worst defensive games of the season in the Bruin’s 56-30 victory over Arizona. Now I know what you are thinking, especially those readers new to Go Joe Bruin, “UCLA won 56-30 and had a bad defensive game?”

Yes. Now look, they did not play bad compared to most schools. They played bad compared to UCLA.

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Note: numbers in ( ) are the difference in yards from the previous week.

Looking at the numbers, the Bruins took a substantial nose dive with the run defense. If you saw the game you know why. The Bruins were taken aback by Arizona’s 2nd string QB Jerrard Randall who ran with out regard for his now safety. The combination of him and RB Nick Wilson in the running game totaled 264 yards rushing for the pair.

The Bruins are without three defensive starters, so cut them some slack.

UCLA had no answer for the run and it was not just because they were missing tackles or could not penetrate the line, Arizona was opening gaps for their rushers all night. These were not little openings mind you, these were massive holes rivaling the Grand Canyon. A little much there, but you get the idea.

But looking at the difference in yards from one week to the next, the only certain thing is that the Bruins are fluctuating in yardage in both pass and rush defense. When we look at total defense we see that the Bruins are starting to give up more and more yardage.

So is that really an indicator of the UCLA defense getting worse? Not really. Battered and bruised, but not worse. Let me explain statistically.

Here is the Total Offense stats for the Bruin’s first four opponents:

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Virginia – 349.5 ypg

UNLV – 397.8 ypg

BYU – 350.5 ypg

Arizona – 555.5 ypg

UCLA kept all of their opponents under their average, especially Arizona. The Bruins allowed the Wildcats almost 100 yards less than what they are averaging. In essence, the Bruins stopped Arizona from doing what they normally do and that, I think, is a very important take away.

Yes, I know they allowed 353 yards on the ground, but this is a good Arizona team and the biggest challenge for UCLA Football so far. It is conference play, everyone is stepping up. On top of that, as stated above, the Bruins are without three defensive starters, so cut them some slack.

Now they do have to address that whole rush defense thing, but I am sure Bradley has been dissecting film of the first game the Bruins had without three starters, so as of now it is a work-in-progress. One of the best works in progress in the country.

Next: Mora Named Coach of the Week

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