Run defense has not been a strength of the UCLA Football team, and despite statistics, it is not that bad, so everyone just calm down!
It is not that bad. I mean, it could be better, but for the most part, the UCLA Football run defense is holding their own.
Yes, UCLA has had issues with the run defense during Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley’s tenure, but it’s nothing to freak out about, especially so early in the season.
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The thing most Bruin fans would like to see is more pressure on the quarterback and more blitzes, which could results in sacks and tackles for losses. Clearly, that’s a good thing for a defense to have, but it is not necessary, especially when you’re limiting your opponent’s yards and, more importantly, points.
Forgive me for the repetition as I did this examination on Twitter, but Hawaii’s rushing stats are a little skewed from the UCLA game.
The Rainbow Warriors ran for 281 yards against UCLA, which averages out to be 6.7 yards per carry. This does not tell the whole story.
Hawaii rattled off two huge running plays in the fourth quarter (66 and 58 yards) after UCLA was up 56 to 14. Several defensive starters were out in what was essentially garbage time. So if you subtract these two runs, which adds up to 124 yards, then Hawaii only gained 161 yards on the ground, which is good for only 3.93 yards per carry.
UCLA’s run defense is not great but it is not horrible either. Yes, it is an area they need to focus on and can improve, but right now, the important thing to remember is that they are getting the job done.
2017 UCLA Defensive stats
UCLA already has 7 sacks on the season, tied for 19th in the nation.
Scoring Defense – 33.5 (11th in Pac-12)
Total Defense – 493.0 (11th)
Rushing Defense – 331.5 (12th)
Passing Defense – 161.5 (4th)
Pass Def. Efficiency – 93.8% (2nd)
UCLA has this “bend but don’t break” mentality that is used to prevent big plays. Obviously something needs to change when they do give up big yards, but for the most part, UCLA is keeping teams in check early in this season. They did not play great to start against Texas A&M, but there was a world of difference in the second half.
On top of that, they are in fact doing a pretty good job pressuring the quarterback. UCLA already has 7 sacks on the season, tied for 19th in the nation.
So before you meltdown at the sight of certain stats, put things into perspective (comebacks, garbage time, etc.), especially going forward. UCLA could potentially have four starters out for the Memphis game due to injury and will have Josh Woods miss the first half because of a targeting penalty against Hawaii.
It may be a bit rocky for a while, but at the same time the could get better as younger players could step up and give the Bruin defense good minutes. Either way, it is a work in progress after losing players like Eddie Vanderdoes, Jayon Brown and Fabian Moreau to the NFL. Give it time. And remeber, it’s about getting the “W”, not winning the battle of “who has more yards”.