UCLA Football: Tom Bradley’s defense ain’t nothing to mess with

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 31: (Center)Bryce Bobo
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UCLA Football Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley should not be underestimated. In fact, he and his Bruins should be feared.

Like the Wu-Tang Clan, Tom Bradley and his defense ain’t nothin’ to [mess] with. In his third year with the UCLA Football team, Bradley has turned the Bruins defense into one of the most stingy and efficient defenses in the Pac-12.

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With the 2017 season nearly upon us, we could be looking at the next stage in the Bruin defense’s evolution as they transform into a squad that could be the most feared in Pac-12 (and dare I write “the nation”?). Teams on UCLA’s schedule should take note.

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“Yo, there is no place to hide as I step inside the room.”

This is year three in the Bradley era and in that time the DC has been paired with three different offensive coordinators. As The Bruins struggled to find offensive consistency with three OCs in as many years, Bradley has calmed the waters on defense (interestingly enough, he was UCLA’s third DC in three years when he started).

When Head Coach Jim Mora first took the job, as a “defensive guy”, he wanted the Bruins to defined by a tough defense and that all started with Lou Spanos who made the Bruins as tough as anyone in the conference in Mora’s first two years.

Unfortunately, he abandoned his post as his love for the NFL landed him a gig with the Tennessee Titans. In Mora’s third year, he promoted Jeff Ulbrich to DC. Ulbrich did not seem to be the best fit in this position (remember the “beard grab”?), and like Spanos, eventually returned to the NFL.

Mora then went outside his comfort zone to find a new DC. Instead of hiring or promoting someone in his coaching tree, he had his sights on a coach that knows exactly how to handle a defense and would be dedicated to the game of college football. Former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley met that criteria with flying colors.

Many looked to Bradley’s pedigree as a reason to believe that he would bring balance and success to the defense.  In his last final seven seasons at Penn State, Bradley had the Nittany Lions ranked third in the nation in scoring defense and fifth in total defense. In 2005, Bradley was named AP Defensive Coordinator of the Year.

Things were going to change for UCLA, but like all things, it would take some time.