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UCLA has the pieces for a Pac-12 title run. Can Josh Rosen make that happen?

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Can the Bruins win the ground-game battle enough to re-enter the 10-win club and take another division title?

George Frey/Getty Images

Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. Not bad, considering

Last year was supposed to be the year of the UCLA breakthrough, at least per the numbers. Jim Mora's Bruins were projected seventh in S&P+, and on paper it was justifiable.

An offense that had improved for four straight years and was eighth in Off. S&P+ in 2014 was supposed to be built sturdily enough to take on a new quarterback.

The defense had ranked in the Def. S&P+ top 25 for two straight years and returned most of the biggest stars: linebackers Myles Jack and Deon Hollins (combined: 18 tackles for loss in 2014), linemen Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes (combined: 11 TFLs, impressive for a pair of linemen in a 3-4), and defensive backs Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams (combined: four TFLs, 15 passes defensed).

A top-10 projection felt too aggressive to me, considering Mora was handing the reins to a freshman, but there's not an "Are they starting a true freshman?" tweak in the formulas.

UCLA's upside is undeniable, but the Bruins will be playing some big road games with an unknown quantity at QB. If Josh Rosen can prove his upside enough to account for freshman mistakes, then the rest of the squad is loaded.

In a tough Pac-12 South, UCLA has more proven entities than anybody else. But the Bruins are the only South contender with an unproven quarterback. Will that cost them too much?

It did cost them a little bit. UCLA fell from 24th to 46th in Passing S&P+, and despite strong redzone execution, the Bruins slipped from eighth to 21st in Off. S&P+. But the defense we expected to see never saw the field. Vanderdoes played in one game (and was awesome) before succumbing to injury. Jack and Moreau made it three games. Adams made it 10.

At one point in November, half of UCLA's opening-day defense was sidelined. Any semblance of efficiency was out the window. UCLA fell 49th in Success Rate+ and 62nd in Rushing S&P+. The pass defense held up admirably, but the Bruins were too inefficient and handed too many long fields to Rosen and company.

2015 was a mulligan year for Mora. Only a few schools can deal with that level of injury and continue playing at a top-10 level, and three straight years of on-field improvement halted.

Injuries can help in the future tense as much as they hurt in the present tense, however. Vanderdoes, Hollins, and Moreau are back, as is a new batch of youngsters who got more playing time than expected. There are questions on offense, where a good chunk of contributors have moved on, but on paper, UCLA should expect to bounce back considerably. And considering they only fell to 23rd in S&P+ last year, that's pretty exciting.

In last week's Utah preview, I noted how rare it is to improve for four straight years. At some point, you have to replace your starting quarterback. At some point, you get bitten by the injury bug.

But Mora has recruited well enough to make you think a quick bounce back is possible. Units with potential experience issues -- receiver, offensive line -- are loaded with former star recruits, and the defense now combines significant experience (every starter could be either a junior or senior) with another layer of high-upside youth to account for injuries.

And, of course, UCLA also has Rosen, a lab-created quarterback specimen who dealt with predictable learning experiences as a freshman but survived. There's a lot to like here.

This is Bill C's daily preview series, working its way through every 2016 team. Catch up on the Pac-12 so far!

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 10-3 | Final F/+ Rk: 28 | Final S&P+ Rk: 23
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
5-Sep Virginia 78 34-16 W 88% 100% +3.2 -1.5
12-Sep at UNLV 105 37-3 W 93% 100% +0.0 +5.0
19-Sep BYU 35 24-23 W 83% 91% -15.9 -16.0
26-Sep at Arizona 77 56-30 W 86% 98% +18.6 +22.5
3-Oct Arizona State 50 23-38 L 53% 52% -26.5 -28.5
15-Oct at Stanford 6 35-56 L 38% 8% -13.3 -14.5
22-Oct California 29 40-24 W 91% 99% +11.9 +13.0
31-Oct Colorado 94 35-31 W 64% 79% -21.7 -17.0
7-Nov at Oregon State 107 41-0 W 95% 100% +20.8 +23.5
14-Nov Washington State 54 27-31 L 46% 31% -20.8 -13.5
21-Nov at Utah 22 17-9 W 78% 86% +9.4 +10.0
28-Nov at USC 17 21-40 L 60% 55% -16.4 -16.0
26-Dec vs. Nebraska 36 29-37 L 48% 37% -13.5 -15.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 38.1 21 25.7 51
Points Per Game 32.2 45 26.0 54

2. Road warriors vs. no home-field advantage

A long time ago for ESPN Insider, I explored the idea of home field advantage, who actually has it and how you actually define it.

Think about the teams considered to have significant home-field advantages: Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Ohio State. These teams' home stadiums are absolutely intimidating, and few teams win there.

But how much of that is due to the stadium, and how much is due simply to the great teams playing there? Those teams have been great at home, but they have also been pretty stout on the road. And during down periods, these stadiums weren't nearly as terrifying. What we consider great home-field advantage is, as much as anything, simply great teams playing at home.

In the end, you can really only compare a team's home results to its road results to determine an home-road split, but not home-field advantage. This split can be caused by underachieving on the road or overachieving at home, but there are certainly teams whose performance at home and on the road have varied significantly.

Teams in off-the-beaten-path locales like Syracuse, Penn State, and Texas Tech tended to have the largest home-road splits, meaning either that they play particularly well at home, particularly poorly on the road, or both.

In 2015, UCLA played the same everywhere.

  • UCLA at home:
    Record: 4-2 | Average percentile performance: 71% (~top 35) | Yards per play: UCLA 6.3, Opp 4.9 (+1.4) | Average performance vs. S&P+ projection: -11.7 PPG
  • UCLA in road games:
    Record: 4-2 | Average percentile performance: 75% (~top 30) | Yards per play: UCLA 6.1, Opp 4.9 (+1.2) | Average performance vs. S&P+ projection: +3.2 PPG

The Bruins looked great at home in September and laid an egg against Washington State in the home finale; they got blitzed at Stanford and Arizona State (and "at" crosstown rival USC) but handled UNLV and Oregon State with ease and played wonderfully in a 17-9 road win over Utah. They were up and down both in and out of Pasadena.

You can spin this however you want. If you want to look at this as a great sign -- UCLA as potential road warrior, and with a freshman quarterback no less! -- go for it. If you choose to note that the Bruins got no boost in the cavernous Rose Bowl, you can do that, too.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I can note that of five projected top-40 opponents in 2016, three come to Pasadena. Make of that whatever you like.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.31 40 IsoPPP+ 107.0 45
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 44.9% 27 Succ. Rt. + 105.7 50
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 27.9 28 Def. FP+ 27.7 29
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 5.0 20 Redzone S&P+ 115.7 20
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 24.4 ACTUAL 19 -5.4
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 28 45 50 45
RUSHING 58 60 44 64
PASSING 25 46 51 49
Standard Downs 55 59 58
Passing Downs 30 30 32
Q1 Rk 49 1st Down Rk 60
Q2 Rk 27 2nd Down Rk 73
Q3 Rk 37 3rd Down Rk 39
Q4 Rk 94

3. Establishing the game plan

After four years of producing top-30 offenses in the Rose Bowl, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone left to attempt to give the underachieving Texas A&M offense a shot in the arm. Mora elected to promote from within, handing running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu the coordinator role.

Polamalu, a former USC fullback, is promising to bring toughness, through more significant roles for tight ends and fullbacks. That means players like Nate Iese, converted defensive lineman Ainuu Taua, and converted linebacker Cameron Griffin could see the field quite a bit. It might also mean more pressure on a shaky line to improve. While Rosen remained mostly upright, the run blocking was pretty leaky.

Whatever the approach, the primary goal will be better establishing it. Rosen showed a pretty exciting knack for bailing UCLA out on passing downs -- the Bruins ranked 30th in Passing Downs S&P+ -- but he was asked to do it too frequently because they were a pretty mediocre standard downs team. His passer rating on first down: 127.3. His passer rating on third-and-10 or more: 145.4. That's not how that's supposed to work.

If fullbacks and tight ends can help with efficiency passing and a run game that could feature three exciting backs (Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks, Bolu Olorunfunmi), UCLA will have cleared a huge hurdle and opened up the next big question: Do the Bruins have the receivers Rosen needs?

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Josh Rosen 6'4, 210 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9924 292 487 3669 23 11 60.0% 13 2.6% 7.1
Jerry Neuheisel 6'1, 200 5 18 53 0 2 27.8% 0 0.0% 2.9
Mike Fafaul 6'2, 210 Sr. NR NR 2 2 21 0 0 100.0% 0 0.0% 10.5
Devon Modster 6'2, 205 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8964
Matt Lynch 6'5, 185 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8565

4. Break out the bubble wrap

Rosen is already pro-caliber when it comes to avoiding hits. Per game, he only took one sack and rushed twice, and his ability to maneuver in the pocket was beyond his years.

This is good because he really, really, really needs to stay healthy for UCLA to succeed. Last year his only viable backup was Jerry Neuheisel, and "viable" may have been pushing it.

This year, it's former walk-on Mike Fafaul and a couple of freshmen who aren't nearly as well-touted as Rosen. Could they steer the ship for a few plays or drives? Sure. But it's hard to imagine UCLA coming anywhere close to the Pac-12 South title if anyone other than Rosen is behind center.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Paul Perkins RB 239 1337 14 5.6 6.0 39.7% 1 0
Soso Jamabo RB 6'3, 210 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9854 66 403 4 6.1 6.0 43.9% 2 1
Nate Starks RB 5'11, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9210 50 320 5 6.4 6.1 46.0% 0 0
Bolu Olorunfunmi RB 5'10, 220 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8559 34 200 0 5.9 5.8 44.1% 0 0
Josh Rosen QB 6'4, 210 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9924 24 136 2 5.7 5.4 54.2% 6 2
Roosevelt Davis RB 13 58 0 4.5 1.8 53.8% 0 0
Nate Iese FB 6'3, 250 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8494
Ainuu Taua FB 5'11, 295 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9179
Cameron Griffin FB 6'3, 235 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8207







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Jordan Payton WR 124 78 1106 62.9% 25.8% 8.9 59.7% 54.0% 1.47
Thomas Duarte WR 89 53 872 59.6% 18.5% 9.8 47.2% 55.1% 1.71
Darren Andrews SLOT 5'10, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8228 63 42 429 66.7% 13.1% 6.8 71.4% 49.2% 1.23
Paul Perkins RB 41 30 242 73.2% 8.5% 5.9 56.1% 26.8% 2.01
Devin Fuller WR 32 24 259 75.0% 6.7% 8.1 65.6% 53.1% 1.40
Eldridge Massington WR 6'3, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9193 25 11 119 44.0% 5.2% 4.8 60.0% 36.0% 1.27
Kenneth Walker III WR 5'10, 180 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8584 22 9 231 40.9% 4.6% 10.5 59.1% 36.4% 2.79
Nate Iese FB/TE 6'3, 250 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8494 15 11 96 73.3% 3.1% 6.4 40.0% 33.3% 1.55
Mossi Johnson WR 6'0, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8666 12 8 41 66.7% 2.5% 3.4 58.3% 41.7% 0.70
Stephen Johnson SLOT 5'11, 195 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9003 10 8 115 80.0% 2.1% 11.5 90.0% 70.0% 1.71
Nate Starks RB 5'11, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9210 10 7 49 70.0% 2.1% 4.9 50.0% 20.0% 2.53
Soso Jamabo RB 6'3, 210 So. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9854 8 5 58 62.5% 1.7% 7.3 37.5% 25.0% 2.68
Jordan Lasley WR 6'1, 200 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8680 4 3 17 75.0% 0.8% 4.3 100.0% 75.0% 0.45
Alex Van Dyke WR 6'4, 210 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9010 4 2 14 50.0% 0.8% 3.5 25.0% 50.0% 0.57
Ishmael Adams SLOT 5'8, 180 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9400
Theo Howard WR 6'0, 175 Fr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9492
Damian Alloway WR 5'10, 175 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9282
Dymond Lee WR 6'2, 180 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9056

5. Got the receivers?

Paul Perkins was one of my favorite backs in the country last year, possessing a rare combination of power and explosiveness. He was also the least efficient back in the UCLA arsenal. He rushed for five yards or more in 39.7 percent of his carries; his top three backups did the same 44.7 percent of the time, and with the same level of explosiveness.

That doesn't guarantee that Jamabo or anyone else produces the same level of overall success as Perkins, but it's a positive sign. If Polamalu's goal is to establish the run as part of a physical offense, he seems to have the toys in the backfield to do so.

The receiving corps, however, faces a pretty significant reset. Only one of last year's top five targets returns; Jordan Payton, Thomas Duarte, Perkins, and Devin Fuller combined for 22 targets, 14.2 catches, and 190.7 receiving yards per game. And of this year's returnees, only senior Kenneth Walker III and sophomore Stephen Johnson had the chance to prove any sort of explosiveness.

Strong recruiting rankings are about odds as much as anything else -- the more star recruits, the higher the ranking, the more likely you are to find someone capable in a given role. From this perspective, the odds of some solid weapons emerging are pretty good. Johnson, juniors Eldridge Massington and Alex Van Dyke, and three freshmen (Theo Howard, Damian Alloway, Dymond Lee) are all former four-star recruits, and another four-star, converted cornerback Ishmael Adams, evidently joined the receiving corps this spring. Athleticism certainly isn't an issue.

Still, this is a bit scary. Continuity in the receiving corps is important, and Rosen is going to be surveying a field full of receivers he didn't establish much of a rapport with last fall. Add in a new center and right tackle, and you've got a recipe for regression. Or at least, if Rosen improves, it might be hard for the overall Passing S&P+ to improve, too.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 101.3 2.94 2.95 42.4% 68.8% 21.7% 324.6 0.8% 3.2%
Rank 68 58 93 25 44 95 3 2 7
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Jake Brendel C 13 52 2015 2nd All-Pac-12
Caleb Benenoch RT 13 35
Alex Redmond LG 12 33
Conor McDermott LT 6'9, 310 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7593 12 19
Scott Quessenberry RG 6'4, 280 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8778 0 19
Kenny Lacy LG 6'4, 285 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8909 11 13
Kolton Miller RT 6'9, 295 So. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8841 4 4
Najee Toran C 6'1, 285 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8563 0 1
Fred Ulu-Perry LG
0 0
Poasi Moala RG 6'4, 290 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9016 0 0
Zach Bateman RT 6'6, 295 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8892 0 0
Josh Wariboko-Alali OL 6'2, 305 RSFr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9498

Andre James LT 6'4, 290 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9107

Tevita Halalilo RG 6'4, 335 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9082

Alex Akingbulu OL 6'6, 255 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8696

Michael Alves OL 6'5, 320 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8860


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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.09 4 IsoPPP+ 116.2 21
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.6% 76 Succ. Rt. + 105.1 49
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 27.9 109 Off. FP+ 27.6 107
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.1 38 Redzone S&P+ 116.3 18
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 24.4 ACTUAL 19.0 -5.4
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 67 31 49 21
RUSHING 98 62 74 49
PASSING 36 18 17 19
Standard Downs 50 57 38
Passing Downs 11 19 8
Q1 Rk 26 1st Down Rk 30
Q2 Rk 36 2nd Down Rk 30
Q3 Rk 53 3rd Down Rk 16
Q4 Rk 19

6. Establishing the game plan, part 2

It was the same story for UCLA's defense: The Bruins did some impressive things on passing downs but weren't good enough on standard downs. They were strong on third downs but weren't good enough on first downs. They allowed 4.4 yards per carry on first down and 3.4 on third, a 122.1 passer rating on first and a 101.1 on third.

None of these numbers are awful, mind you. But adjusting for opponent, the Bruins were 50th in Standard Downs S&P+, which offset a No. 11 ranking on passing downs.

Second-year defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, a longtime Joe Paterno assistant, didn't have the pieces to play his make-fewer-mistakes-than-them defense. But by simply being able to field the same lineup from week to week, he should be able to engineer a rebound in 2016.

Four of last year's top five linemen return, as does Vanderdoes. Four of last year's top six tacklers at linebacker are also back, as are nine of 10 defensive backs, plus Moreau. This has gone from a thin, banged-up unit to one of the Pac-12's most experienced.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 97.6 3.09 3.33 42.4% 82.2% 13.8% 95.3 5.6% 5.8%
Rank 77 94 74 108 127 123 72 46 92
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kenny Clark DT 13 61.0 7.7% 11.0 6.0 0 5 0 0
Eddie Vanderdoes
(2014)
DE 6'3, 305 Jr. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9958 13 41.5 5.4% 5.5 2.0 0 0 1 0
Eli Ankou DE 6'3, 305 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8377 13 35.5 4.5% 5.0 1.5 0 3 0 0
Takkarist McKinley DE 6'2, 250 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.8985 13 31.5 4.0% 7.5 4.5 0 4 2 0
Matt Dickerson NT 6'4, 275 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8896 13 30.0 3.8% 4.0 1.0 0 4 0 0
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner DE 6'2, 275 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8772 13 26.0 3.3% 3.5 2.0 0 2 0 0
Ainuu Taua NT
8 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rick Wade DE 6'6, 255 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8856
Nick Terry NT 6'4, 295 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8681
Boss Tagaloa DT 6'2, 295 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9470








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jayon Brown ILB 6'0, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8194 12 75.0 9.5% 2.0 0.5 0 6 0 0
Kenny Young ILB 6'1, 235 Jr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9253 13 54.5 6.9% 5.0 0.5 1 0 2 0
Isaako Savaiinaea ILB 6'2, 250 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.9377 9 52.0 6.6% 2.0 1.5 1 2 0 0
Aaron Wallace OLB 13 48.5 6.1% 12.5 7.0 0 1 0 0
Kene Orjioke OLB
12 16.0 2.0% 2.5 0.5 0 3 1 0
Deon Hollins OLB 6'0, 230 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9192 13 13.5 1.7% 4.5 2.5 0 3 0 0
Myles Jack ILB 3 12.0 1.5% 0.0 0.0 1 1 0 0
Cameron Judge OLB 6'1, 230 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8766 12 7.5 0.9% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Josh Woods ILB 6'3, 215 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9087 1 2.5 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Sean Burd LB 7 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Keisean Lucier-South OLB 6'4, 215 RSFr. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9906
Mique Juarez OLB 6'2, 230 Fr. 5 stars (6.1) 0.9919
Breland Brandt LB 6'5, 230 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9395
Lokeni Toailoa LB 6'2, 240 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9372
Krystopher Barnes LB 6'2, 225 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9318








7. Where does the havoc come from?

UCLA's deficiencies were obvious. Without Vanderdoes and Jack, and with only three starters or backups managing to play in all 13 games, the Bruins couldn't establish enough of a presence near the line of scrimmage. They ranked 92nd in passing downs sack rate and an egregious 123rd in stuff rate and 127th in power success rate. Even accounting for injuries, UCLA's recruiting should have produced more sturdy havoc options than that.

That Vanderdoes is back is obviously a good thing. But a front seven that was in no way disruptive must replace its only two interesting attacking pieces, tackle Kenny Clark and OLB Aaron Wallace. UCLA has experience and girth up front, but the Bruins might have to rely on youth to create more of an attacking presence. Redshirt freshmen like end Rick Wade and OLB Keisean Lucier-South certainly have the credentials, as does true freshman Mique Juarez. If UCLA can start making plays at the line instead of about five yards downfield, that would significantly help a secondary that was already good with little help.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jaleel Wadood S 5'10, 175 Jr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9433 13 60.5 7.6% 4 0 2 4 0 0
Randall Goforth S 5'10, 190 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8860 13 55.0 6.9% 0 0 2 6 0 0
Fabian Moreau
(2014)
CB 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8235 13 46.5 6.1% 3 0 1 8 0 0
Marcus Rios CB 6'0, 185 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9075 13 39.5 5.0% 0.5 0 0 7 0 0
Tahaan Goodman S 6'2, 195 Sr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9706 13 29.0 3.7% 1 0.5 0 2 0 0
Ishmael Adams CB
10 27.5 3.5% 2 0 2 4 0 0
Nate Meadors S 6'0, 190 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8684 10 20.0 2.5% 0 0 1 2 0 0
Adarius Pickett CB 5'11, 190 So. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9373 13 19.5 2.5% 0 0 1 1 1 0
John Johnson CB 5'9, 180 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9313 10 19.0 2.4% 0 0 1 4 0 0
Denzel Fisher CB 6'1, 185 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8597 6 12.0 1.5% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Octavius Spencer S 5'11, 170 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8585 11 9.0 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
DeChaun Holiday CB 6'2, 220 RSFr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9656
Colin Samuel CB 6'2, 195 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8913
Will Lockett S 5'11, 175 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8510
Brandon Burton S 6'1, 200 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9197








8. A potentially incredible secondary

With no pass rush and no Moreau, UCLA still ranked 18th in Passing S&P+. That's an exciting sign, especially considering how much continuity there is in the secondary in 2016. The only loss is Ishmael Adams, and he could flip back from receiver if necessary.

Moreau's return means high-level competition for playing time at cornerback. Senior Marcus Rios, junior John Johnson, and sophomores Adarius Pickett and Denzel Fisher all return and are joined by two four-star redhisrt freshmen. And at safety, Jaleel Wadood and Randall Goforth might be the best tandem in the conference. UCLA allowed only 29 passes of 20-plus yards last year, 10th in the country. Not bad considering the help the Bruins weren't getting from their front seven.

If Vanderdoes, a resilient Hollins, and maybe a couple of youngsters can provide more of a pass rush (and a few more passing downs), this could easily be a top-10 pass defense. But that's a relatively significant if.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Matt Mengel 54 40.1 2 21 15 66.7%
Adam Searl 6'0, 185 Jr. 5 39.0 0 3 1 80.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Ka'imi Fairbairn 84 64.5 59 0 70.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Ka'imi Fairbairn 47-47 16-16 100.0% 4-8 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Devin Fuller KR 17 24.2 0
Roosevelt Davis KR 14 23.2 0
Devin Fuller PR 12 11.8 0
Ishmael Adams PR 5'8, 180 Sr. 4 5.3 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 33
Field Goal Efficiency 21
Punt Return Success Rate 58
Kick Return Success Rate 91
Punt Success Rate 106
Kickoff Success Rate 1

9. A special teams reset

Ka'imi Fairbairn was incredible in both the place-kicking and kickoffs departments. Despite inconsistent returns and punting, UCLA ranked 33rd in Special Teams S&P+ almost solely because of Fairbairn. And now he's gone, just like everybody else. UCLA certainly has the athletes to field decent return teams and coverage units; do the Bruins have decent new legs?

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep at Texas A&M 25 0.5 51%
10-Sep UNLV 114 32.6 97%
17-Sep at BYU 35 4.6 60%
24-Sep Stanford 16 4.6 61%
1-Oct Arizona 64 17.3 84%
8-Oct at Arizona State 57 9.3 70%
15-Oct at Washington State 48 8.0 68%
22-Oct Utah 39 12.2 76%
3-Nov at Colorado 82 15.2 81%
12-Nov Oregon State 86 22.8 91%
19-Nov USC 8 2.7 56%
26-Nov at California 49 8.2 68%
Projected wins: 8.6
Five-Year F/+ Rk 22.8% (24)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 11 / 13
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 0 / 0.1
2015 TO Luck/Game 0.0
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 75% (61%, 88%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 9.3 (-1.3)

10. Favored in every game (technically)

UCLA's 2016 schedule is a lesson in odds and probabilities. As you see, the Bruins are favored in all 12 games, suggesting that they aren't far from a huge season. But in four of those games, they are given between a 51 and 61 percent chance.

And these odds are based on normal home-field adjustments. If last year is any indication, maybe add a few percentage points to the road games and subtract a few from the home games.

With inconsistency on offense, UCLA was never going to be the top-10 team it was projected to be on paper last year. But the injury bug bit a few incredibly important players on defense.

Health and experience should help to shore up, but questions remain. Will an attempt to bring more power and run capability to the offense pay off? When it's time to throw, does Josh Rosen have the receivers? And while the pass defense could be elite, will it matter if the run defense improves?

Arizona and Arizona State have some retooling to do, and odds aren't in favor of Utah continuing to improve without hitting a bump or two. The Pac-12 South could be a two-team race between UCLA and USC.