Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Farewell to 2016: UCLA Bruins

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

UCLA Bruins 
4-8 (2-7)

2016 Schedule
Lost to Texas A&M 31-24
Beat UNLV 42-21
Beat BYU 17-14
Lost to Stanford 22-13
Beat Arizona 45-24
Lost to Arizona State 23-20
Lost to Washington State 27-21
Lost to Utah 52-45
Lost to Colorado 20-10
Beat Oregon State 38-24
Lost to USC 36-14
Lost to California 36-14

MVP Offense: None

UCLA was absolutely putrid on offense in 2016, and finished ahead of only Texas State nationally in rushing. Never in my life have I ever seen such a putrid effort out of this program across the board. Josh Rosen seemingly was regressing at a rapid rate, and was eventually injured because he was not smart enough to stay on the sidelines after already being hurt against Arizona State. The second injury in that game cost him the rest of what was already a very off balance seaon for him. As far as the Rosen hype machine is concerned, he has already been replaced as the QB darling in the PAC 12 by the kid across town, Sam Darnold at USC, and by Jake Browning at Washington. Anyone thinking that Rosen is better than either at this stage is simply being delusional.  MVP Defense: LB Jayon Brown, DE Takkarist McKinley
I really felt for the Bruin defense in 2016. The offense did them no favors whatsoever, and this was a very decent unit. They were just forced to get worm down too many times by an offense that just never got going on any level. 
Brown was a huge player at LB for the Bruins. He led the team with 120 tackles (a stellar 10 per game), and collected 7 TFLs, and was rock solid in pass coverage, as he broke up 6 passes, and picked off another 3.
McKinley became a consumate first round draft pick at DE in 2016, as he recorded 18 TFLs on the season. He added 10 sacks and 61 tackles, broke up 6 passes, and forced 3 fumbles. 
Others of Note
Rosen averaged 319 yards passing per game, but needed a ton of effort to get there, as he only completed 59% of his passes. His QBR of 138.91 was rather pedestrian, and his TD to INT ratio was a very basic 2:1. 
The Bruins finished averaging just 2.93 yards per carry as a team last season. Nobody ran for more than 4 scores all season. 
Darren Andrews (55-709-4) and Jordan Lasley (41-620-5) were the only UCLA receivers to catch more than 25 passes on the season. 
Kenny Young was an unsung hero on defense, as he finished with 90 tackles. 
UCLA was crushed in the tackle efficiency battle, as they only focred teams to make a shade over 58 tackles per game, while the Bruins were forced to make 73.5, a 15 tackle per game difference. That just shows how awful the offense truly was. 
Randall Goforth and Fabian Moreau were both solid in coverage as each collected 9 PBUs. Goforth finished with 4 INTs, which led the team. 
UCLA QBs had 65 passes broken up (Rosen and Fafaul).
UCLA is still losing the penalty battle, as they were penalized 7.5 times per game in road games. They were more penalized when they won (7 times per game) than when they lost (6.4 times per game).
Best Win: BYU 17-14
The Bruins barely survived a tough defensive effort brought forth by the Cougars, but this was a game that exposed many of the problems that the Bruins would have moving forward. Instead of looking at that film and finding a way forward, nothing was done to fix the problems, and the ceiling caved in from there, as the Bruins ost 5 of their next 6 games. 
Worst Loss: California 36-14
The Bruins did indeed have one of the tougher PAC-12 schedules of anyone in the conference. With their shortcomings looming, that was not helpful. With the Cal loss, the Bruins had absolutely already quit for the year, and there was no life or effort in this 22 point loss to a team with a losing record. This should have been loked at as a "bowl game" for the Bruins, but they treated it like the last day of school.  2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Texas A&M, 9/9 Hawaii, 9/16 at Memphis
The Bruins could have beaten Texas A&M in College Station, but they never put their pedal to the floor when they had the chance, and opportunities to win were squandered. This is a game that they could win in 2017 at home, but do they have the right mindset? Hawaii and Memphis, both games that the Bruins could have run away with years ago, now also look like challenges. 

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