Part 7 in a series on Oregon's 2010 season opponents
6:00 PM PST :: October 21, 2010 :: Autzen Stadium
|Location||Los Angeles, CA|
|Head Coach||Rick Neuheisel (11-14 at UCLA, 77-44 overall)|
|Stadium||Rose Bowl (91,136) : natural grass|
|2009 Record||7-6, (3-6 Pac 10)|
|Starters Returning||8 Offense : 5 Defense|
|Newspapers||Los Angeles Times, The Daily Bruin|
|Rushing||Jonathan Franklin :: 126 Rushes : 566 Yards : 5 TD|
|Passing||Kevin Prince :: 173/308 : 2050 Yards : 8 TD : 8 INT|
|Receiving||Nelson Rosario :: 42 Receptions : 723 Yards : 2 TD|
|Tackles||Akeem Ayres :: 79 total|
|Sacks||Akeem Ayres :: 6 total|
|Interceptions||Rahim Moore :: 10 INT|
The Pac-10's perennial underachiever, UCLA has been largely irrelevant for the better part of a decade. The mediocrity that got Karl Dorrell fired has continued unimpeded into year three of the Rick Neuheisel era, spurred largely by the lack of a quarterback with a pulse and a mediocre offensive line. Despite having Neuheisel and Norm Chow on the coaching staff, widely regarded as two of the greatest offensive minds in football, UCLA makes the switch to a pistol offense in an attempt to revive a stagnant run game and take some pressure off the passing game. And there are reasons to think that the offense will be much better this season. While the defense should remain stout, they lose some big names and only return five starters. Somewhat of a drop off should be expected.
2009 Offensive Statistics
|Pass Offense||222.77 (52)||180.31 (98)|
|Rush Offense||114.62 (97)||231.69 (6)|
|Total Offense||337.38 (88)||412.00 (33)|
|Scoring Offense||22.0 (94)||36.08 (8)|
|Pass Efficiency||113.86 (101)||128.03 (59)|
|Sacks Allowed||2.23 (74)||1.00 (10)|
|3rd Down Conversion %||34.05 (101)||35.12 (95)|
|Yards/Play||5.0 (83)||6.0 (24)|
Offensively, UCLA has been a mess ever since Cade McNown graduated in the late '90s. Kevin Prince, who started 11 games as a freshman last season, returns as the starter. He had some impressive numbers, passing for over 2000 yards, including three 300 yard passing games. He needs to improve on his 56% completion percentage, but maturity should help a bunch. While nobody would mistake him for Jeremiah Masoli, he does have enough mobility that he could be successful running the pistol. Going into this season with Prince as the starter could be the best QB situation the Bruins have had in quite some time.
The running game is a different story. UCLA returns five of their top six rushers, but nobody had over 566 yards last seso, nor better than a 4.5 average. Jonathan Franklin returns as the starter, but nothing I saw from him last year struck me as extraordinary. The offensive line returns four of five starters, but for a bad unit that failed to open up holes for that 97th ranked rushing game, and allowed well over two sacks a game. The offensive switch is no wonder--they have to up these numbers or their offense will continue to be the most anemic in the conference this side of Pullman.
They do return two very good receivers, as Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree had over 40 receptions and 600 yards each last year. However, everyone else on this unit with any experience is gone.
I expect UCLA to improve offensively with the philosophy switch and with 8 returning starters. However, improvement from their bad numbers is nothing to crow home about. Their offensive line is not going to push anyone around. Unless they are a markedly better running team this year, they are going to be forced to put the ball into the air. And, while they can do that, Oregon's secondary isn't going to let them get away with that for an entire game if they're not having to help out tremendously with the run game as well.
2009 Defensive Statistics
|Pass Defense||142.77 (59)||207.62 (44)|
|Rush Defense||191.23 (28)||128.69 (42)|
|Total Defense||334.00 (32)||336.31 (35)|
|Scoring Defense||21.23 (27)||23.77 (51)|
|Pass Efficiency Defense||118.99 (41)||112.30 (25)|
|Tackles for Loss||8.15 (5)||6.31 (40)|
|Opponent 3rd Down %||33.15 (18)||37.91 (51)|
|Turnover Margin||+0.46 (26)||+0.15 (51)|
|Yards/Play Allowed||5.0 (40)||4.4 (12)|
For as mediocre as UCLA has been the last few years, their defense has actually been pretty good. That said, they lose a lot of talent (Brian Price, Reggie Carter, Kyle and Korey Bosworth, Alterraun Verner). Those are huge, huge names to lose in one year. The front four has three new starters, including freshman Owa Odighizuwa. They also return only one linebacker, although Akeem Ayers is one of the best linebackers in the nation. Both of these units are talented, but ultimately untested. However, that inexperience shouldn't be too much of a factor by the time we play them in game 7. Its hard to get a read on how good these units will be at this early juncture. But UCLA has a reputation of good defenses recently.
The secondary will be very good, returning three starters, including Rahim Moore, who had a whopping ten interceptions last season and is one of the best defensive backs in the courntry. I expect teams to try and run a lot of UCLA, opting to try and take advantage of the inexperienced front seven as opposed to the loaded back four. While we'll be the best running team UCLA faces all year, seeing these performances should give you a good indication of how much they may be able to slow Oregon down.
2009 Special Teams Statistics
|Kick Returns||23.75 (26)||24.91 (10)|
|Punt Returns||9.09 (57)||12.00 (27)|
|Kickoff Returns Against||24.80 (113)||20.85 (42)|
|Punt Returns Against||7.39 (43)||6.83 (T-36)|
The return stats are all over the map, so I wouldn't put much stock into them for this season. Kicker Kai Forbath was the Groza winner last year, and with a long of 53, everything is in his range. Punter Jeff locke had a solid freshman season last year.
Final Analysis UCLA should be somewhat better on offense, and somewhat worse on defense. For a group that only won three Pac-10 games last year, that's not good enough. They can't roll into Autzen and score enough points to keep up with Oregon.