4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UCLA DEFENSE
– The problems on offense took center stage, but the defense didn’t to its part to help, allowing 445 yards and 34 points per game. The pass defense was a problem, but the run defense – a massive issue over the last few seasons – was worse.
– It was a really, really young front three, but there’s good beef – starting with 380-pound bowling ball Antonio Mafi on the nose – and enough depth to form a better rotation. The versatility and experience are in place, but everyone has to hold up a whole lot better, and maybe get into the backfield once in a while.
– There are more than enough veterans to expect this group to shine. Second-leading tackler Krys Barnes is back after making 85 tackles, Tyree Thompson was fourth on the team with 55 stops, and Keisean Lucier-South is back after finishing sixth in stops … maybe.
Lucier-South wasn’t around for the second half of spring ball to work on the academic side of things. Josh Woods is back on the inside after missing all of last year with a leg injury – he’s versatile enough to step in anywhere.
– Blame most of the problems in the secondary on the lack of a pass rush. Leading tackler Adarius Pickett is gone, but the other three starters return starting with the corner tandem of Elijah Gates and Darnay Holmes – Holmes is the better of the two. Quentin Lake is back at one safety gig after finishing third on the team with 67 tackles.