Special Teams Should Improve
This seems like a no-brainer. When a part of the team has a glaring issue, that issue needs to be resolved, pronto. The special team’s kicking specialists have been fine. What the coaching staff has to turn their attention to is coverage. Kelly knows football and understands the battle for field position. If Special Teams continues to be a liability, but if they clean things up, they can win a lot of close games during the conference season.
The Offensive Line
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Under OL coach Justin Frye, the offensive line made huge strides in 2018, so much that the offense averaged 485.5 total yards in their last four games as opposed to the 311.3 yards in their first four games. On top of that, unless Justin Murphy’s request to play a sixth year is denied, the Bruins return every single lineman that played in 2018. Plus they will add three more from recruiting, especially 4-star OT Sean Rhyan who just committed this week. So not only could UCLA have the best offensive line with the best offensive line coach, that will help UCLA run (and pass) through the Pac-12 South.
The Pass Rush
As noted above, the linebackers, if healthy will give the defense a boost, especially if Jaelan Phillips and Mique Juarez return to help the pass rush. In addition to that, the Bruins defensive line will add some push, especially with Osa Odighizuwa growing as a leader and freshmen Otito Ogbonnia and Atonio Mafi growing into their (HUGE) roles. If everything comes together, UCLA could have one of the best pass rushes in the Pac-12.
Need I say more? The running back that came straight out of UC Davis returns for his final season and we cannot wait to see his encore performance. Not many will remember that he ran for over 1,000 yards in 2018. Some might even forget that he had six 100-yard rushing games. But I can guarantee that the majority of UCLA football fans will remember that he ran for 289 yards against USC.
Now, how many yards will he get against the Trojans in 2019? How many yards will he get against the other Pac-12 teams? Is it August 31 yet?