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Sunday Morning QB: Why Does UCLA DC Jerry Azzinaro Still Have a Job?
UCLA AD Martin Jarmond needs to terminate Azzinaro immediately.
Last night, UCLA lost to Arizona State. It’s not that loss that’s so bad. Although it will certainly make it harder for the Bruins to win the Pac-12 South title this season.
It’s the way that UCLA lost which is difficult to swallow.
Either the Bruin defense was completely unprepared for what Jayden Daniels brought to last night’s game or the defensive game plan was bad. After sitting through last night’s game, I’d probably argue that it was both.
The problem with the defense appears to be systemic. For nearly three and a half seasons now, Bruin fans have sat in the Rose Bowl and wondered, frequently aloud to one another, why our defensive backs consistently play about ten yards off the ball.
It’s a question no one has been able to answer. Yet, amazingly, the UCLA coaching staff doesn’t seem to make the necessary changes.
Coming into last night’s game, Arizona State’s longest pass play of the season was less than 40 yards. That includes games against powerhouses like Southern Utah and UNLV.
Last night, the Sun Devils gained more than 40 yards on four different pass plays.
For the second home game in a row, the aggressive defense seen against Hawai’i and LSU were nowhere to be found. UCLA was back to playing one of the softest defenses in all of college football.
How bad is UCLA’s passing defense?
As of this morning, only Memphis and Georgia Southern have allowed more passing yards. The Bruins are ranked 128th of 130 FBS teams in passing yards allowed.
Yeah, they are that bad.
As if that’s not enough, UCLA is back to being ranked in the 90s in total defense.
For anyone who wants further proof that the pass defense has regressed, consider that UCLA averaged 274.1 yards per game in 2020 which was 114th in the nation. This year, they are allowing 324.1 yards per game.
To be sure, the Bruins are ranked 10th in the nation against the run. But, having the best run defense in the nation means nothing unless you can keep opposing teams from beating you with the pass.
Jayden Daniels followed the Jake Haener recipe for beating the Bruins and he put on a clinic for other teams to follow. All you need to do is throw the ball against UCLA and you can almost certainly win the game.
All of this results in just one question: Why does Jerry Azzinaro still have a job?
Some other questions UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond might want to consider include “Why is UCLA paying Azzinaro $700K this season?” Or, perhaps, “Would Brian Norwood consider taking over as DC for the remainder of the season?”
Some other questions are conditional. Like if Chip Kelly refuses to fire Azzinaro, he could ask, “Chip, are you submitting your resignation?”
It’s not just that the defense is playing poorly this season. It’s the totality of how the defense has played under Azzinaro’s so-called leadership.
The bottom line is rather simple. Jerry Azzinaro deserves to be fired. Immediately.
It’s time to finally make this change to the UCLA coaching staff.