Does UCLA Football Have Enough In The Tank To Make A Run For The South Division?


Things are not going as expected for UCLA Football. Injuries, coaching and inexperience are holding them back, but do they have enough to turn the season around?

UCLA Football is at the midway point of the season, which means there are six regular season games left. After losing to Arizona State and Stanford in consecutive weeks, their chances of winning the South Division is looking slim.

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So is there enough in the tank for UCLA Football to still capture the South? Well, the first thing we have to consider is all the injuries that are piling up.

Before Stanford, UCLA was already down with four players out for the season and a couple that had minor injuries, but things got turned up a notch last Thursday in Palo Alto.

Five Bruins sustained injuries, including another season-ending injury to WR Tyler Scott. Two of those injuries were to the offensive line as Conor McDermott and Alex Redmond left the Stanford game with a knee and hand injury, respectively.

Then there is back-up RB Nate Starks who suffered a head injury and Deon Hollins is questionable with a knee injury.

Though there is depth at every position group, it is hard for a team to remain stable when the experience of the starters is gone. The main issue here, for me, is the offensive line. It was suspect against ASU, but did improve against Stanford (surprisingly).

The Bruins were able to gain 181 yards behind Paul Perkins (who had 104 yards and 1 touchdown), but he only had 14 carries in the game. With a shaky O-line, can the run game still be as effective?

Maybe, but what might be worrisome is how the plays are being called.

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

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone said that he was too conservative in the ASU game, so against Stanford, he went in the opposite direction and tried to sling the ball around. What resulted was a pick-six, an incomplete pass on 3rd and 1 and the Bruins leaving their main weapon out in the cold. Perkins averaged 7.4 yards per carry against Stanford (wow, I know right), but to think he only had 14 carries is insane.

The Bruins ran the ball 31 times as opposed to throwing it 42 times. With a seasoned running back and a true freshman quarterback in Josh Rosen (who has been doing well holding his own), those numbers should be flipped. Every single game.

As for the defense, the Bruins are 113th in the nation, allowing 215.7 yards on the ground. Against Stanford, UCLA allowed 310. It does not help that DL Eddie Vanderdoes and Myles Jack are gone, which does not help the run game, but some of the younger players need to step up and that is on the coaches to get them ready.

Surpringly, the pass defense is not that bad.

Now that is a good sign, but comparing the run and pass stats, it is hard not to think that teams are going to be running the ball at the Bruins every chance they get.

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

What will be interesting to see is if pass-happy teams like Cal and Washington State will alter their games or if they will continue to attack through the air. Though there is hope the Bruin pass defense can stop teams like this, we also saw that the Bruins have holes in this department.

Against Stanford, the Bruins were giving up a lot of small passes due to bad coverage and generally being less disciplined (and experienced). Cal and WSU will definitely notice this, which means the Bruins must be aware of this.

So going forward, do the Bruins have enough in the tank? Honestly. It does not look like it, especially with UCLA Football only having a 1.7% chance of winning out, according to ESPN.

Though it looks dark, we have seen this script before.

Last season, the Bruins lost two games in a row and then rattled off five straight victories and won six of their last seven games to end the season. Now can they do that again? We will see, but for now, let us hope that UCLA Football takes it one game at a time and first beats Big Brother when Cal comes to the Rose Bowl on a Thursday night.

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