UCLA Football: Is Hank Fraley the most valuable assistant coach?

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 03: Theo Howard /

The UCLA Football offense has been nothing short of explosive this season. With a new OC, a stud QB back from injury and receivers making big catches that side of the ball looks light years better than it did last season. The starting point? The improved offensive line play.

It goes without saying the offensive performance to this point in the season has been largely improved. Personnel usage and play calling are much more competent and QB Josh Rosen has given this UCLA Football team more than a fighting chance in every contest this season. He’s throwing to a group that is doing a much better job of catching the ball and gaining yards after the catch.

The biggest turn around on the team without a doubt has to go to new OL coach Hank Fraley. He’s taken a unit that mightily underwhelmed in 2016, lost their best player during the offseason and turned them into a functional group that outside of a handful of plays have done well to protect Rosen.

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They haven’t been perfect with the edges still figuring out how to consistently defend against pass rushers but the interior has taken their play to another level. Last year the interior was the issue and since the quickest way to a QB is through the middle of the line, improving their play was paramount. Rosen was sacked 13 times in six games last year and was knocked out for the season in that sixth game. This year through four games the Bruins have allowed seven sacks with three of those coming in their first game against the A&M Aggies.

The ground game, or lack thereof, in 2016 was cause for concern. Without any viable run game the UCLA Football OL basically had to contend with pass rush happy teams all season and gave up multiple pressures with teams bringing just three or four down rushers.

This year the Bruins are averaging 120 yards a solid improvement over last year’s pitiful 84.25 yards a game. While we it seems as though the running game is beginning to find it’s footing, they’ve been capable in spot duty and had their first 100 yard rusher of 2017 last week.

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No matter what we think about the defense, and trust me we think about it plenty, the offensive performance is exciting and encouraging to watch. We knew what Rosen was capable of and the talent in the receiving group was what made the drops of 2016 so frustrating to watch. However I can’t imagine what this season would look like without the coaching of Hank Fraley and the direction he has the OL moving in.