ESPN’s annual preseason Football Power Index is out and the results are putting lofty expectations on the UCLA football team which is ranked 21st.
Even though it seems as if the College Football Playoffs ended yesterday, it is time to look ahead at the coming season, which is exactly what ESPN did with their latest Football Power Index (FPI) and the results might be a little shocking for UCLA football fans who find their team ranked 21st in the nation.
According to ESPN, the FPI is “is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward.”
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After 2018’s dismal 3-9 performance, the Bruins were ranked 68th in the nation, which is not hard to believe. The shocking part of all of this is how UCLA has rocketed up 47 spots to 21.
Per the FPI, UCLA has an offensive ranking of 14, a defensive ranking of 28 and a dreadful special teams rating of 68. Aside from special teams, these are quite exceptional rankings… or are they?
It won’t be argued by anyone that the Bruins struggled at the beginning of the 2018 season, but by year’s end, the Bruins found their groove and made major improvements. That, I believe, is the reason for these high rankings.
The offense should impress next year as three OL starters return, along with a veteran-laden receiving corps, a determined Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the spark plug that is Joshua Kelley leading the way.
The defense had a lot of issues with depth and injuries last season. Next year, pending recoveries, the Bruins will have a lot of veteran talent to work with, especially among the linebackers. This should help improve the pass rush which will, in turn, limit the rush defense and take some pressure off the pass defense. In summation, the defense will be a lot better in 2019.
As for special teams, they have a lot to work on, specifically in coverage. Kicker JJ Molson and long snapper Johnny Den Bleyker return, but they are going to have to find another punter as Stefan Flintoft has graduated.