Despite coming off of a 4-8 record in 2016, has the UCLA Football team made enough changes to land them a spot in the first college football AP Top 25 poll of the 2017 season?
The UCLA Football team ran out of gas at the end of 2016 season. The Bruins forced a system on offense that did not work as well as had a rash of injuries, including QB Josh Rosen, which had them finish 5th in the Pac-12 South with a record of 4-8, 2-7.
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This was after the Pac-12 media writers voted for the Bruins to win the South Division at the start of the season. UCLA was also ranked 16th in the 2016 preseason AP poll. Unfortunately we know what happened to those rankings as the Bruins fell into oblivion.
A year later, things are different, albeit uncertain. UCLA did not look good last December and Head Coach Jim Mora has made changes to see that the Bruins turn things around this fall. With an almost entirely new offensive coaching staff, Mora and new Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch are trying to make things better.
And that, I feel, is why those that analyze football, especially those covering UCLA Football, do not exactly know if the Bruins will be better or will remain stagnant and remain at the bottom of the South Division yet again.
The opinion at this point in time appears to be that UCLA is slowly improving in practice. The offensive line is better, the running game is making strides and there are a selection of receivers that are stepping up.
So if UCLA is perceived to be better, should they get a nod in the first AP Top 25 poll of the season? Yes.
Even though the preseason polls do not mean much, many will base their votes off of UCLA’s record. Yes, it looks bad that UCLA lost six of their last seven games and got brutalized by USC and Cal in their final two contests, but there are several reasons why voters should look at the Bruins now rather than last year.
First of all, Josh Rosen is back and looking very sharp. He says that he feels good and is slinging the ball around the field in practice. Second, as stated above, the offensive line looks more in tune to the style of football that Fisch is bringing, which will help the offense overall, especially the run game.
Finally, critics need to recognize the UCLA defense. They have been the squad that saved the Bruins in several contests in the last two years, though they cannot do it alone. They need the offense to score points, hold onto the ball and stay on the field longer than the defense.
So should the voters put UCLA in the preseason AP Top 25? Yes, but they will not. But good news for the Bruins, if they start winning, they get to put themselves in the Top 25. Win-win. Literally.