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One of the few good moments for UCLA football this season: Mossi Johnson (#21) celebrating with some teammates. Photo courtesy of pac-12.com

 

TRYING TO PUT A BOW ON THE WRETCHED SEASON THAT UCLA HAD IN FOOTBALL THIS YEAR, AND HOW I SEE THE BRUINS GOING FORWARD

 

UCLA BRUINS – 2016 BY THE NUMBERS:

Final Record: 4-8, 2-7 and 5th place in the Pac-12 South

* Lost six of their last seven and seven out of their last nine games

* Lost to Stanford for the ninth straight time

* Lost to USC for the second straight time

Team Leaders:

Mike Fafaul, QB – 52% completions, 1,602 yards, 12 TDs, 11 INTs

Josh Rosen, QB – 59% completions, 1,915 yards, 10 TDs, 5 INTs

Soso Jamabo, RB – 82 carries, 321 yards (led the team!), 3 TDs

Darren Andrews, WR – 55 receptions, 709 yards, 4 TDs

Jayon Brown, LB – 119 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 INT

Kenny Young, LB – 90 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks

Takkarist McKinley, DL (My choice for team MVP) – 61 tackles, 18 TFL, 10 sacks

Randall Goforth, DB – 4 interceptions

 

Sep 24, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) walks off the field during the second half against the Stanford Cardinal at Rose Bowl. The Stanford Cardinal won 22-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) walks off the field during the second half against the Stanford Cardinal at Rose Bowl. The Stanford Cardinal won 22-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports  Photo courtesy of gojoebruin.com

 

I won’t sugar coat this…

2016 was an absolutely forgettable wreck for UCLA football.

For the UCLA community, I’m sure that’s stating the obvious as they were forced to watch their team embarrass Bruin Nation with their inability to block, run the ball – which stemmed from their inability to block – and their collective inability to catch passes.

When California put those Bruins out of their misery on Thanksgiving weekend, I felt like baseball legend Henry Aaron when after he broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, the first thing he said was:

“I’m just glad it’s all over with.”

Which I’m positive is the exact same way Bruin Nation felt when those three zeroes appeared in the fourth quarter in Berkeley.

Thanks goodness the football team’s basketball brothers have done much to restore pride in Westwood with their 11-0 start, which included beating then top-ranked Kentucky on their home court, and #2 ranking.

 

 

Highlights from UCLA’s last win of 2016, 38-24 over Oregon State on November 12th. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

How I See Things Going Forward:

I wish I can say that good times are guaranteed, that UCLA will definitely make amends in 2017 and take revenge on Stanford, USC, and all the other teams that pushed the Bruins around on the field this year.

But I honestly don’t know if that will happen as – again, stating the obvious – this program is at a definite crossroads with coach Jim Mora, who I think is now on the hot seat, needing to make some serious changes.

He has already started on that path by firing offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, which was a step in the right direction as someone always has to take the heat whenever things go bad.

Two other assistant coaches need to go – I’m surprised their offices aren’t already empty:

  1. Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, for his charges’ ineptitude to catch passes that cost UCLA at least one win if not more, and…
  2. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. If his players had done their job better Josh Rosen would not have been knocked out or the season against Arizona State.

The thing that really killed this season, in my view, was Mora changing to a pro-set offense that the o-line wasn’t built for, which was the root of their problems.

We all understand that the offensive was changed to better match-up against a Stanford team that had beaten the Bruins up for the past several years.

 

October 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Kenneth Walker III (10) celebrates with wide receiver Theo Howard (14) his touchdown scored against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

October 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Kenneth Walker III (10) celebrates with wide receiver Theo Howard (14) his touchdown scored against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Photo courtesy of gojoebruin.com

 

However…

In what I saw was the turning point of the season, that ultimately failed as after leading the Cardinal all game, UCLA wilted at the end and lost at the Rose Bowl 22-13.

Which ultimately took the wind out of their sails.

As for the future and getting immediate help, while Signing Day isn’t for another couple of months, the fact that several players have decommitted is not encouraging.

If those Bruins are going to rebound next season, signing four and five-star recruits on the offensive line and at wide receiver – as well as the defensive front seven as the are losing several players – is both a HUGE priority AND of the essence.

What’s more, they need to sign guys (especially on the o-line) who are able to play and contribute right away, rather than be red shirt prospects.

Next season’s schedule will be tough, with UCLA opening against Texas A&M on Labor Day Weekend and them having to face Stanford, USC, and Pac-12 champion/College Football Playoff participant Washington on the road.

While Rosen is expected to be back behind center, it won’t mean anything if the guys up front don’t do a significantly better job protecting him and opening holes for the running backs.

Soso Jamabo leading the team with 321 yards and the Bruins finishing next to last in the nation in rushing: 127th out of 128 teams (!), is quite pathetic!

Which is a big understatement!

I’ll have a better idea of how I see 2017 for this program after Signing Day and Spring Practice, which will both be very important.

Until then, Bruin Nation…

 

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Jordan Lasley (#2), escorted by Cameron Judge, returning a blocked punt for a touchdown against Oregon State. Photo courtesy of gojoebruin.com

 

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