4. UCLA Bruins College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– The defense was solid overall and special at getting into the backfield. The Bruins led the Pac-12 in sacks and were a not-that-awful sixth in the Pac-12 in total D and second in scoring defense allowing 410 yards and 35 points per game.
Big tackle Osa Odighizuwa is a Dallas Cowboy now, but just about everyone else of note is expected to return.
– The top pass rushers are still around. Caleb Johnson is a 6-1, 230-pound linebacker who can do a little of everything, including lead the team with 44 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Bo Calvert added more size on the inside to go along with the 245-pound bulk of Mitchell Agude – a tackle for loss machine – at one of the other outside spots.
The front will miss Odighizuwa, but it’s got a 6-4, 318-pound wall of a nose tackle in Otito Ogbonnia and a 275-pound end in Datona Jackson leading what should be a good rotation.
– The secondary turned into a monster at picking off passes late. The Bruins came up with nine on the year with eight in the last four games with two from three different defensive backs. Now the pass defense has to be a whole lot better after allowing 274 yards per game.
S Stephan Blaylock was second on the team with 42 stops to go along with two picks, Quentin Lake and Qwantrezz Knight can hit, and the combination of corners Obi Eboh, Jay Shaw and Mo Osling can hit as well as make play when the ball is in the air.