The UCLA Football team just cannot find balance. Last season it was the defense that was stellar and the offense that struggled. This season, the defense is having a lot of trouble while the offense is shining. Can a balance be found?
There was not a lot of hope that the UCLA Football team would improve from their 4-8 record last season. If anything, many thought the Bruins would have a few more wins with the return of QB Josh Rosen.
Last season, even before Rosen sustained a season-ending shoulder injury, the offense was not good (under statement). There was no run game and they heavily relied on a passing game that was not good enough to put points on the board.
While that was happening, the defense was doing the Herculean task of trying to keep the Bruins competitive. It was a tough situation. The offense could not produce and were often on the field for very short drives. This put the stout yet increasingly exhausted defense back on the field way too often to try and limit the opponent’s points.
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Fast forward to the start of September 2017 where Josh Rosen and the offense kicked it up several notches to become one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Things were looking like UCLA might be a contender. There was just one problem… the defense.
In the last two games we have seen that they are not the same defense from 2016. They are worse. With the departure of several starters and injuries taking a heavy toll, the talent-dependent defense by DC Tom Bradley was not doing very well. The run game had a lot of holes and the secondary, which has been a staple of Jim Mora’s UCLA defense, was getting burned.
As simple as that, the script has flipped. The offense is now playing efficiently after struggling last season and the defense has taken a step back. It is frustrating to say the least. How can a program go through such a dramatic change, for better and worse?
Head Coach Jim Mora has tried to balance his team by going outside his comfort zone after promoting coaches that probaly should not have been promoted in the first place. He hired Bradley, the defensive architect of so many great Penn State defenses and the offensive force that is OC Jedd Fisch who was the mastermind of Michigan’s passing game the last two seasons. At times it has worked, and others it hasn’t.
The problem, methinks, is that Mora is often willing to change schemes, but is unwilling to stick with them in favor of what makes him comfortable. This season, the defense has made some great plays and matched up with opposing offesnes very well, but when it seems like UCLA has the upper hand, the defense falls into old habits.
This is not good for balance. If the defense is struggling, it doesn’t not help the offense, which is now feeling the force of trying to save this team. Unless the coaches are willing to stay outside their comfort zone, it seems like the there will be more inconsistency with the balance of the offense and defense.