UCLA Bruins College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
UCLA Bruins Biggest Key: Offense
Keep doing what you’re doing, UCLA. It wasn’t always consistent and it stalled a few times in key moments, but the offense was able to find ways to keep things moving with a ground game finally becoming a factor.
It took a very, very long time for the program to get the offensive line right, and it showed with a ground game that averaged under three yards per carry in 2016 and wasn’t all that much better over the last following three seasons.
Last year the rushing attack averaged over five yards per carry for the first time since 2015 and was stunningly consistent. The Bruins didn’t run for fewer than 171 yards in the six games. The 2019 ground game was under 70 yards four times.
UCLA Bruins Biggest Key: Defense
The pass defense has to improve. It didn’t give up as many big plays as it did in 2019 and it got a whole lot better at taking the ball away, but it also allowed way too many yards.
Again, there was an improvement, and there’s a whole lot of talent and experience coming back, but the pass D was 114th in the nation and the second-worst in the Pac-12 allowing 274 yards per game.
The team was 1-5 when allowing more than 230 yards and 3-0 when it didn’t. Over the last two seasons the Bruins are 3-13 when they allow 230 or more, but this is a different, stronger team. It just has to be a bit tighter to take advantage of what should be another great pass rush.
UCLA Bruins Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Otito Ogbonnia, Sr.
The Bruins have more than their share of experienced and big bodies for the front three, and the pass rushers are there on the outside with a deep group of hybrid types. After losing Osa Odighizuwa off of the interior, though, the line needs a new star.
The 6-4, 318-pound Ognbonnia does a whole lot of the dirty work. He has help around him, and Tyler Manoa can hold his own if he has to take on the job. However, for a defense that improved in so many way last season, being even stronger against the run is a must. The D needs its anchor to be great.
UCLA Bruins Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Stanford, Sept. 25
The home game against LSU might be a coming out moment for the program under Chip Kelly, and there can’t be any Mountain West misfires against Hawaii or Fresno State, but it all starts up for real at the end of September in Palo Alto.
The Bruins closed out last season with a thrilling 48-47 loss to the Cardinal, and this time around it kicks off a run of three road games in the first four with a dangerous home date against Arizona State to follow.
Going back to 2008, UCLA is a ridiculous 1-12 against Stanford – including a Pac-12 Championship loss.
2020 UCLA Bruins Fun Stats
– Sacks: UCLA 23 for 144 yards – Opponents 12 for 79 yards
– Fumbles: UCLA 9 (lost 7) – Opponents 7 (lost 2)
– Rushing Yards Per Game: UCLA 230.6 – Opponents 135.7