This years version of the UCLA Football team has already given fans a season’s worth of emotions in just three weeks. If the Bruin defense can find a way to feed off of a hot offensive start, UCLA may be in good shape to make a run at a conference championship even after the Memphis dud.
First and foremost, let me say this, the UCLA Football offense has far exceeded my expectations coming into the year. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has done a masterful job with a unit that drastically under performed last season. Josh Rosen is finally looking like the guy who Jim Mora compared to Peyton Manning and the run game has been solid (although there is still room for improvement).
But though the offense seems to have found its stride early in the season, the same can’t be said for an injury-plagued Bruin defense. The UCLA defense ranks 120th out of 130 teams in total defense so far this year. That’s not going to cut it no matter how good the offense is playing and we saw that last week against Memphis.
That being said, there have been a ton of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Both linebacker Kenny Young and safety Jaleel Wadood hope to be back this week after missing last week’s game with head injuries. Meanwhile, defensive linemen Boss Tagaloa and Jaelan Phillips hope to be back for next weeks game as well. Getting those guys back will be key for the UCLA defense going forward.
We have seen the defense be able to feed off of the offenses momentum at least one time this season. In the Texas A&M thriller, while Josh Rosen was picking the Aggie defense apart, the Bruin defense quietly put together an impressive second half.
After giving up 38 points in the first half, the UCLA defense buckled down and held A&M to five straight scoreless possessions while Rosen and the offense did their thing. UCLA is going to need a lot more of that going into conference play if they want a shot at playing for a conference championship. It could be the difference between a 10 win season and a six win one.