Upon Further Review: The New Bruin Defense – Same As It Ever Was

Much was made over the off-season about the conversion of the UCLA defense from a 3-4 front (three down linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs) into a 4-3 (four down linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs). This was actually a misnomer considering how rarely the Bruins actually used their “base” defense last year. Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley and Head Coach Jim Mora used a nickel defense (four down linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs) almost exclusively.

. . . the Bruins used the nickel on 93% of the defensive plays Saturday. . .

Well we finally get a peek at the Bruin defense against Texas A&M last Saturday, and guess what? It was the same story as last year; there was never a moment in the game when the Bruins used more than two linebackers, and they used a 4-3 alignment a grand total of one time.

Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. The argument could be made that last years struggles on defense had more to do with injuries (Myles Jack, Fabian Moreau, Eddie Vanderdoes, etc.) than anything schematic. But Bruin fans hoping for a different look or any change in strategy saw nothing new against the Aggies. Here are the stats regarding the Bruins defensive alignment last weekend:

This is still the real Bruin “Base” defense: the Nickel (4-2-5 alignment):

 

Nickel DNote four linemen, two linebackers in the middle of the field and five defensive backs (the extra DB was Randall Goforth for most of the game). The Bruins used this defense on approximately 93% of the defensive plays on Saturday.

UCLA showed a 4-3 alignment only once during the entire game, and it was on this play:

4-3 Allignment --Nickel Personell

The 3rd “linebacker” in the middle of the field is actually DB Tahaan Goodman, but the alignment is a defacto 4-3 with 1 deep safety.

The Bruins also employed a “dime” defense on some long yardage situations. Here you can see the four linemen with only one linebacker and six defensive backs:

dime

With all that being said, there was a slight change in personnel from last year to this year that should be beneficial. Instead of having a smaller linebacker type (such as Deon Hollins) line up as a defensive end every snap as they did in 2015, Bradley used a bigger tackle or end type player lined up as the 4th lineman for most of the game. Theoretically, that should make them more physical to stop the run this year.

. . . On the 83 snaps, the Bruins blitzed around seventeen times (about 20%). . .

As far as the aggression goes, Bradley and the Bruins didn’t show an increased interest in blitzing against A&M. On the 83 defensive snaps, the Bruins only blitzed approx seventeen times (about 20%). Of those blitzes, all but one were linebackers (usually crashing straight down the A or B gaps to either side). There was one safety blitz (Jaleel Wadood made a nice tackle on a run outside), and they faked a safety blitz once that resulted in an interception.

. . .The defense seemed to be at its best when the blitz was used sparingly. . .

They showed some other looks as well. On a couple of occasions, the Bruins decided to “show” a blitz (meaning they walked player(s) toward the line of scrimmage in an aggressive stance). Here, one of the linebackers stepped up to the line on the left side of the formation and the rest of the line shifted right:

Nickel Showing Outside Blitz

On this alignment, the Bruins set up in an overload of the right side of the formation (trying to overwhelm one side of the field with a rush of defenders):

Overload Blitz Unfortunately for the Bruins, they jumped off-sides on both of these attempts to show pressure; looks like they were a little over-enthusiastic to get after the QB.

The Bruins also used defensive line stunts a couple of times to try and manufacture pressure. On this play (they ran it twice), the defensive line never got into a stance:

mush rush

When the ball was snapped they ran a twist with DE Takkarist McKinley in order to get him pressuring up the middle of the field. On one play he forced QB Trevor Knight out of the pocket.

All in all, the defense seemed to be at its best when the blitz was used sparingly. The only drive in which the Bruins blitzed more than twice was on the Aggies 1st touchdown drive of the second half. All in all, Bradley was fairly vanilla, but it was probably for a reason. UCLA was able to get a decent amount of pressure without blitzing and the Bruins were able to bottle up Christian Kirk for the majority of the game. Although the Bruins didn’t give up any big plays, the concern going forward will still be stopping the run. The Bruins gave up over 200 rushing yards for the 3rd consecutive game. If that issue can’t be solved, it will be a long and tiring year for the UCLA defense.

 

WB3 – Catching Up With Thuc Nhi!!!

This is a special interview episode of What’s Bruin featuring answers to all of your UCLA Football questions coming out of camp with Thuc Nhi Nguyen, the Beat Writer for UCLA from LA News Group. We also talk to Michael Hanna about the current state of UCLA recruiting and his thoughts on UCLA Football heading into the 2016 season.

Listen HERE

AXS sucks! … and Let Me Tell You Why.

From Jake:

In Episode 101, my “What’s Bruin With You” focused on my recent experience with AXS Ticket Service. Here are the emails that I was reading from:

This is my original message (sent after my father died and I realized I couldn’t use the tickets):

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These tickets were bought in December of 2015, and I remembered the “Ticketless Ticket” language when I purchased them, but I still wanted to find out if I had any control over the tickets I bought (which cost around $370 total including $40 in “service” fees). Here was the response from AXS:

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Knowing the language used in the transaction when I originally bought the tickets, I did not have a lot of optimism that I would be able to easily transfer or sell the tickets. However, I was not expecting an over the top “Hey! Screw You! And Aren’t You Happy!” response from ole’ GeeGee and AXS. Here is my response to their answer:

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As a result of these policies, I had to sell the tickets at a significant loss (for an artist that sold out 8 shows), and in order to complete the transfer of the tickets, I had to appear in person at Staples Center on the night of the concert (the night before I had to eulogize my father).  This process was made even more difficult because the credit card that I used to buy the tickets in December 2015 had to be replaced in the long period of time between the purchase and the concert date.

At the end of the day, I spent $370 for the right to attend a concert without any of the traditional controls that traditionally go with buying tickets to a live event. This change in the normal protocol benefits no one but the ticket company and makes everything harder on the consumer. Thanks for your service AXS, and when I say Thank You, I mean I mean go to hell.

 

What’s Bruin Show Episode 101 Coming Soon!

Bill, Jake and Mike taped a special LA Sports Express podcast with Assistant to the Co-host Jamaal from LAsportshub.com that will post on Friday night or Saturday Morning.

The Rundown includes:

LA Sports Express

  • Olympics
  • Jamaal’s Pre-Season Ram Report
  •  NBA

A special What’s Bruin in which Jake vents about the worst ticket agency in America: AXS.

Have something to say? Call 805-399-4WBS and tell us what you think!

What’s Bruin Show Episode 100 Tapes Tomorrow!

Welcome back College Football! You’ve been sorely missed!!!!!

Bill, Jake and Mike return Tuesday night to tape another episode of the What’s Bruin Show. Tomorrow’s episode will feature special guest Jamaal to talk LA Sports, College FB and the Olympics.

Items up for discussion on tomorrows show:

  • UCLA Fall Camp
    • News and Notes from practice
    • Mique?…Cordell…?
    • DB or Not Special Edition: Cover Boy Josh Rosen
  • UCLA Season Preview
    • What are we looking for from the Amoeba Offense?
    •  Who are our UCLA Offensive “Magic Men”?
    • Will the Defense still suck or was it really all about the injuries last year?
    • Who are our UCLA Defensive “Magic Men”?
    • A look at the National Predictions for UCLA Football, and …
    • What’s Bruin Pac-12 Predictions
    • Is Mora a top 25 coach?

Have something to say? Call 805-399-4WBS and tell us what you think!

RoT on GoT Episode #4 – Book of the Stranger

Jake once again joins Alicia and Michael from the Reign of Troy Podcast to talk about the 4th episode of Game of Thrones Season 6.

Terrific! After myriad near misses a couple of Starks actually found each other! … and they immediately start looking for revenge! Speaking of revenge, things turn a little HOT for Dany in Vaes Dothrak.

Listen Here:

Want to join in on the talk? Call the WBS Hotline! (805) 399 – 4WBS (Suck it Reign of Troy!)

RoT on GoT Episode #3 – Oathbreaker

Alicia is MIA as Jake once again joins Michael from the Reign of Troy Podcast to talk about the 3rd episode of Game of Thrones Season 6.

Ever the curmudgeon, Michael is not nearly as excited about Oathbreaker as he was about Home. Sure not too much happened in comparison, but it was still a lovely time in the world of Ice and Fire. . . except for the bit about Shaggy Dog.

Listen Here: