We saw last season just how lost the UCLA Bruins were when golden boy Josh Rosen went down with an injury. Many had the Bruins pegged as a South Division titleist before the year, but when the Bruins lost the one player they couldn’t afford to lose, all hell broke loose. It didn’t help that there was no ground game, because without Rosen it didn’t matter. There is optimism that Jim Mora can turn things around from a four-win season, and he’ll need to do that in order to stay employed at the Westwood campus.
2016 Record: 4-8 SU, 4-8 ATS, 4-7 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 7.5
National Championship Odds: +8000
Odds To Win Pac-12: +1275
Rosen vaulted to the top of the Heisman watch list after throwing for 3,668 yards and 23 touchdowns as a freshman in 2015. His play also brought dreams of a Rosen Bowl appearance for 2016. But a shoulder injury took the final six games away from Rosen and the Bruins went just 1-5 with backup Mike Fafaul doing his best.
Rosen had decent numbers before being shelved for the second half of the year. He threw for 1,915 yards and 10 touchdowns, but the offense sputtered because there was absolutely no run game. The Bruins were the worst Power 5 team running the football and they were next to last in the entire FBS with an average of just 84.3 yards per game.
The Bruins suffered a tough overtime loss to Texas AM in the opener then beat UNLV and a decent BYU club. They hung close with Stanford and ripped Arizona to go 3-2 through the first five games. But the beginning of the end took place in Tempe in early October. Against a bad Arizona State defense, UCLA ran backwards, accumulating minus-1 yard rushing on 23 attempts. Rosen threw for 400 yards, but he left the game in the first half with a leg injury and was done for good later after hurting his shoulder.
After last year’s wreck, Mora decided to revamp his offensive staff brining in four new coaches, including coordinator Jedd Fisch. The first order of business will be to improve a pathetic run game. The Bruins did nothing last season, but with a new OC and line coach, maybe they can get something working. UCLA returns its three leading rushers from last season, but the trio of Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi combined for only 882 yards and averaged 3.7 per carry.
Getting a run game is key, but so is keeping Rosen upright and healthy. After what happened last year, it’s obvious the Bruins need their quarterback. And all things go hand-in-hand. Running the football will allow the Bruins to not rely so heavily on Rosen. They did last season and he paid the price by getting knocked out after half a season. The line has to be better and with the exception of center Scott Quessenberry, the competition is fierce.
Overlooked by the Rosen injury and the inability to run the fooball was the play of the defense. The group wasn’t great but it did enough to get the team more victories than it actually had. And there are concerns on this side, too. Three defenders were taken the NFL draft, but there is enough returning talent to keep a dropoff, if any, to a minimum. Kenny Young emerged as a stud last season and will anchor the unit from his linebacker spot.
Week 1: UCLA vs. Texas AM, Sunday, September 3
Week 2: UCLA vs. Hawai’i, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: UCLA at Memphis, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: UCLA at Stanford, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: UCLA vs. Colorado, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: OFF
Week 7: UCLA at Arizona, Saturday, October 14
Week 8: UCLA vs. Oregon, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: UCLA at Washington, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: UCLA at Utah, Friday, November 3
Week 11: UCLA vs. Arizona State, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: UCLA at USC, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: UCLA vs. California, Friday, November 24
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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