We cannot underestimate the fact that UCLA’s defense improved in certain areas last season. That says a lot about both the Mora era defense and the Kelly/Azzinaro defense. To be able to use true freshman, transfers and the limited amount of uninjured returning players (that were willing to buy into the system) sets up a solid foundation for the Bruins in the coming seasons.
But during the 2018 season, they had their hands tied which led to the defense getting worse in three out of the four categories we looked at in the previous slide.
The Bruins might have decreased their numbers from 2017 to 2018, but it could have been so much better. Unfortunately, by the end of the 2018 season, their defensive numbers rose.
Regarding points, the Bruins were able to limit ASU and USC (Game 10 and 11) late in the season as they held them under the season trend and the season average (see the figures in the above tweet). Unfortunately, giving up 49 points to Stanford lifted those numbers back up.
Limiting passing yards was a problem. With teams picking on the secondary, especially in the second half of the season, the Bruins were giving up way to many yards on the defense. That resulted in the total yards increasing. Though the numbers dropped for their last two games (USC and Stanford), they were still unreasonably high going into those games.
The only positive is the rush defense. Though the trend increased by season’s end, it was very minimal. It did not help that the Bruins gave up over 200 yards in the Games 7-10, but they put the clamps down in the last two as USC and Stanford were only able to muster up 112 and 126 yards, respectively.