How The Defense Can Become Elite, Part 4
To be successful against the pass, it isn’t just the secondary that has to contribute. The Bruins have to get heat on the quarterback and they have a handful of athletes that can do it. In the spring, Takkarist McKinley could not be stopped from turning the corner and getting to the quarterback. He gave the offensive lineman fits with his speed and ability to knock down passes.
The Bruins will need him to continue to do that in his final season in blue and gold. McKinley will also need help from teammates Deon Hollins and Keisean Lucier-South. Lucier-South was considered one of the best pass rushers in the country coming out of high school and if he can do the same on the collegiate level the Bruins pass rush will be dominant.
The final thing UCLA needs to become an elite defense is something Bruin fans are all too familiar with…penalties. It doesn’t mean much if you stop a team on 3rd and 9 only to have that yellow hankie come floating in for a defensive holding call. Too many times in the Mora era UCLA fans have been ecstatic to stop a team on 3rd down only to have the Bruin defense retreat 15 yards because of a penalty. Under Mora the Bruins have become an aggressive, physical, hard hitting unit but also one that lacks discipline. That has to change this year.
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All these players mentioned earlier could all have career years but if they can’t cut down the penalties, then the dream of having an elite defense in Westwood will continue to be just a dream.