UCLA Football: Can KLS finally get over the hump in 2017?

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 6: Wide Receiver Golden Tate
PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 6: Wide Receiver Golden Tate /

This UCLA Football team is loading with defensive line talent and we have spent most of this offseason talking about new senior leaders and stellar freshmen. What about a guy who has fallen a bit under the radar?

UCLA Football DL coach Angus McClure has done a solid job of turning the Bruins into a DL pipeline to the NFL. However there have been a few guys that have struggled to put it together even with immense talent on their side.

One of those guys has been R-So. Keisean Lucier-South. After being a highly recruited prospect and a consensus five-star recruit in 2015, KLS red-shirted his first year in the program with the goal of putting on weight. While he has put some weight onto his lean frame, now listed at six-foot-four and 235 pounds, he still lacks the bulk to be an every down DE at this level.

While struggling to develop his body more, KLS has also struggled to develop his game. As a high school player he was able to use his speed to beat offensive tackles and make splash plays. Essentially he was able to out athlete guys but did show some tools.

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Those tools have yet to be sharpened and KLS still relies on speed to get around the edge without incorporating a counter move inside. Interestingly enough this was also a major criticism of first round selection Takkarist McKinley.

As demonstrated below, KLS is the RDE at the bottom of your screen. He gets a solid get off from his two-point stance but the OT is able to oves-set and essentially use poor technique to just push KLS beyond the pocket. If KLS had countered back inside that would have been a sack.

In the above clip you’ll see more action from KLS but almost every time he’s in, which is in essentially only passing downs, thwarted by less athletic offensive linemen. He does draw a holding penalty but in my opinion that rep was already lost.

When you don’t have an inside counter move and the opposing coaches know you love to use your speed around the edge all they have to do is coach their OTs to overset and push you past the pocket.

An overset is when a tackle purposefully kicks out into a very wide pass protection set in order to deal with wide-nine DEs or a DE that leans heavily on speed around the edge. If used against an unrefined pass rusher this technique can neutralize an otherwise effective speed demon. However if said DE is coached well he will use that overset to get the OT out of position and cut back underneath and score a pressure if not a sack.

He also doesn’t always demonstrate the best hand usage, again a point of contention about McKinley. Instead of knocking hands down to create softer edges for his speed rush, KLS finds himself latched onto by OTs and that’s not a fight he’s going to win at this point.

Now don’t take the issues above to mean that I don’t like KLS. I actually really like the tools he has and just wish that he had developed a little quicker for his sake and for this UCLA Football defense.

He’s a hustle player that won’t give up on a play but at this point hasn’t done much with his limited opportunities. He reminds me of former UCLA Football DE Bruce Davis who despite being a more lanky guy, used his speed to win on the edge. However Davis was a more refined guy playing in an age where players like him were more rare.

Next: UCLA Football: Is 2017 the year of RB Bolu Olorunfunmi?

He’s now behind stud freshman DE Jaelan Phillips who is already a more complete player and while he should see plenty of action this year, the chips are stacked against him. Can KLS find new life for this defense?