Sunday Morning QB: Bruins Rely on Defense to Beat Arizona
The team's biggest weak spot in 2019 has become one of its strengths in 2020.
While there’s plenty of strategy involved, the game of football is relatively simple. You get four downs to move the ball ten yards. If you do, you get four more until you reach the end zone.
Defensively, you’re trying to stop your opponent from gaining those ten yards each time, but, more importantly, you want to keep your opponent from getting into your end zone.
After last night’s game, Chip Kelly was asked about the impact of Brian Norwood on the defense and who is calling the plays defensively. Kelly jumped in before BRO’s Tracy Pierson could even finish his question to say, “Jerry’s our defensive coordinator. Jerry [Azzinaro] calls everything.”
So, no matter how hard it may be to think that Azzinaro is suddenly a defensive genius after looking like the worst defensive coordinator ever, Chip Kelly is giving him and the entire defensive staff credit for the improvement of the defense.
Here’s last night’s full postgame press conference, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Let’s take a closer look at the difference in the Bruin defense this year compared to last year.
Last season, Bruin fans watched as the UCLA defense got steamrolled week after week by opposing offenses. Just how bad was the Bruin defense? UCLA was ranked 113th out of 130 FBS teams last season. They averaged 456.3 yards per game. They also gave up an average of 4.58 touchdowns per game to opponents last season while only scoring an average of 4.42 offensively.
Just how much has the defense improved from last year?
After last night’s game, the Bruin defense is ranked 33rd out of 126 FBS teams. They are averaging just 355.8 yards per game and they are averaging just three touchdowns per game. That’s a 22% decrease in yards per game and a 34.5% decrease in touchdowns allowed. That’s huge!
Meanwhile, the offensive production has remained consistent with the team averaging 4.5 touchdowns per game.
Those stats right there show why the Bruins are so much better on defense this season compared to last and why they could actually be undefeated, if not for having committed so many turnovers against Colorado and Oregon.
Just think about that for a moment.
Putting that aside for now, how many of us thought the Bruins could finish November at .500?
The honest answer is almost none of us because we all saw how the defense had played the last two seasons.
The play of the defense is the reason why this year’s team looks so much better.