About thebruinbrigade

The Bruin Brigade is written by a UCLA football and basketball fanatic. TBB's earliest memory of UCLA sports was during the 2008-2009 football season in which he specifically remembers watching RB Kahlil Bell and QB Kevin Craft lead an abysmal UCLA offense that played part in its team's to a 4-8 record in Rick Neuheisel's inaugural season. That same year he also was introduced to the world of UCLA basketball through a Final 4 team led by phenom freshman Kevin Love. He has been a fan of both sports ever since. As he got older, TBB has grown a passion for analyzing UCLA football and basketball. During the football season, he has made it tradition to watch (and rewatch) games with his dad on the weekends. As for basketball, TBB closely follows UCLA's recruiting and team through the end of March Madness. He wanted to find a way to voice his analysis of both sports and hopes to do so with The Bruin Brigade. His favorite memories include former UCLA head football coach Jim Mora's first season led by Brett Hundley and Jonathan Franklin in 2009, a star-studded UCLA 2016 basketball team piloted by Lonzo Ball, and Josh Rosen's heroics in UCLA's historic 34-point comeback against Texas A&M this past season.

5 Key Pass Rushers for UCLA Football: Rick Wade

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(Photo Courtesy of USA Today)

4. DE Rick Wade, RS Junior, 6’6” 275

2017 Season Statistics: 11 Games (5 Starts), 33 Tackles, 5 TFLs, 1 Sack

 

Aside from LB Keisean Lucier South (25 games played), Wade is the most experienced pass rusher on UCLA’s roster with 23 games played and 5 starts, including the final 3 games of the 2017 season. He improved from 3 TFLs in 2016 to 5 TFLs in 2017. Wade flashed potential early in the season with 4 of his 5 TFLs coming in the first 5 games. However, after suffering a knee injury against Arizona, he missed the following two games against Oregon and Washington respectively. With just one TFL in the final 5 games of the season, it is plausible that his knee injury against Arizona hindered his progress. Had he been injury free and continued his pace, Wade would have ended the season with 10.5 TFLs which would have led the team. I believe Wade will continue to trend up, seeing players similar to his size thrive in Chip Kelly’s defense at Oregon. An example of such a player is former Oregon standout and current 49ers DE Deforest Buckner, who was 6’7” and 290 pounds compared to a lighter 6’6” and 275 pounds in Wade. After having a combined 6 TFLs in his first 2 years at Oregon, Buckner exploded onto the scene with a combined 30 TFLs in his final 2 seasons. While it may seem improbable that Wade has the same dramatic increase in production as Buckner, it is completely feasible we see an uptick in production due to his experience, size, and Chip Kelly’s defensive scheme.

5 Key Pass Rushers for UCLA Football: Marcus Moore

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(Photo courtesy of Don Liebig/ASUCLA)

5. DE Marcus Moore, RS Sophomore 6’2” 255

2017 Season Statistics: 13 Games (3 Starts), 20 Tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1 Sack

 

Marcus Moore drew comparisons to pressure monger and 2017 NFL 1st round draft pick Takkarist McKinley from former head coach Jim Mora because he played with high emotion and with a high motor. Moore showed promise last season in creating pressure and was one of the few bright spots for a front 7 that lost Matt Dickerson, Jaelan Phillips, and Josh Woods, among others, to injury. Of the 16 defensive linemen on last year’s roster, the local Pasadena native was 1 of 4 (Jacob-Tuioti Mariner, Chigozie Nnoruka, Osa Odighizuwa) who played in every game a year ago. Moore took advantage of his chance to gain experience as he made 19 of his 20 tackles in the latter half of the season. Moore was able to progress rapidly in his first year of playing time so I expect big things for him as his development continues in year two. While it may not be reflected on the stat sheet in increased sacks and tackles, we should see Moore to be a disruptive force in every opponent’s backfield.  Moore’s continued development makes him a dark horse candidate to breakout this season.

 

 

7-on-7 Q&A with Bolu Olorunfunmi

1531435129525Welcome to the first post of our exclusive 7-on-7 Q&A Series! 7 questions were asked to Bolu Olorunfunmi plus a bonus PAT question.

Position: Running Back
Year: Senior
Rushing Yards (2017): 565 (4.8 YPC)
TDs (2017): 5

 

1. What are the biggest differences you have seen under Chip Kelly?

The biggest difference is that he has taught us to be accountable for each other and to keep each other on the mission at all times.

2. What are your on-the-field aspirations for the 2018 season?

All I can tell you is that I am going to go out there and give it my all and hope for the best every single game.

3. Best locker room prank?

What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.

4. Which one of your teammates is a leader in the locker room that UCLA fans do not know about?

I would say Colin Samuel for sure.

5. What are your plans for life after football?

My plan after football is to hopefully get into entertainment and pursue a career in that.

6. What 3 things in life are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about my family, my faith, and football.

7. Two-Minute Drill

a. Nike or Adidas?

Nike

b. Kanye or Drake?

Drake

c. In-N-Out or Chik-Fil-A?

Chick-Fil-A

d. Fortnite or NBA2k?

Fortnite

e. Lebron or MJ?

Lebron

f. K-Pop, yes or no?

No

 

PAT Bonus Question: Which underclassman do you think will have a breakout season this year and why?

I think an underclassman to watch is Darnay Holmes, that boy has been working!!

 

Special thanks to Bolu for agreeing to be interviewed. We’ll be looking for you to kill it this coming season.

UCLA Football’s Top 3 Impact Players for 2018: Adarius Pickett

15313863426851. Adarius Pickett (Free Safety, RS Senior)

Pickett decided to forego the NFL Draft for his senior season and is going to be both a force and an emotional leader on UCLA’s defense this season. As a team captain last year, he was second on the team 85 tackles to go along with 3 pass breakups and an interception. It is highly likely that Pickett improves in all of these statistical categories for a number of reasons. The first is experience as Picket will bring 1.5 years of starting experience to a veteran secondary. The next is the departure of 4-year starter and 2nd-team All Pac-12 SS selection Jaleel Wadood, who had 79 tackles a year ago. Wadood’s role will succeeded by redshirt freshman Quinten Lake. Pickett will likely be expected to do more for the first year starter and will likely record more tackles. The final rationale for a breakout year is that it is very plausible that Pickett has more interceptions this year. I fully expect the UCLA Front 7 and specifically the defensive line to generate more pressure. Keisean Lucier-South, Jaelan Phillips Rick Wade, Chigozie Nnoruka, Osa Odighizuwa, and Marcus Moore all flashed potential last season, but none were able to truly break out. Phillips got injured and was only able to play in 7 games while Wade, Odighizuwa, and Moore all played behind seniors Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson. The talent for generating pressure is certainly present, as both Phillips and Lucier-South were rated 5-star recruits by ESPN.

Pressure and interceptions has a known correlation. The average of the top ten leading teams in interceptions from a season ago is 19.7 interceptions and 33.3 sacks. UCLA was ranked 89th in the nation in total interceptions with 8 interceptions and had just 22 sacks in 2017. New DC Jerry Azzinaro is known for bringing heat in terms of pressure on the quarterback and if any of these players can be our next premier pass rusher, such as Deon Hollins in 2015 or Takkarist McKinley in 2016, look for the pressure in the 3-4 scheme to lead to more interceptions for safety Adarius Pickett.

UCLA Football’s Top 3 Impact Players for 2018: Caleb Wilson

15320628532682. Caleb Wilson (Tight End, RS Junior)

Last year, Caleb Wilson burst onto the scene in the first game of the season against Texas A&M with 208 yards on 15 catches en route to UCLA’s historic comeback. The former Junipero Serra product and USC walk-on is a matchup nightmare at 6’4” 235 pounds with receiver speed and fantastic hands. Before his season was cut short by a foot injury, he caught 38 passes for 490 yards in 5 games, which is insane production for a TE. Last season, the leading TE in receiving yards was Mark Andrews from Oklahoma who is now with the Baltimore Ravens. Andrews, who won the Mackey award for the best TE, had 936 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in 15 games (roughly 67 YPG). If Wilson sustained his astonishing pace from the first 5 games of the season (98 YPG), he would have ended the year with 114 receptions, 1,470 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. Though it is unlikely Wilson will be able to produce like he did last season because he will be without arguably the best pocket passer in the country in Josh Rosen, there is still reason to believe Wilson will have a dominant season. UCLA graduated Darren Andrews and lost Jordan Lasley to the draft. The two receivers combined for 2,037 yards last year which makes up about 45% of UCLA’s total passing yards a season ago. This means significantly more targets to a relatively unproven receiving corps besides Wilson and WR Theo Howard which opens the door for a breakout year.

UCLA Football’s Top 3 Impact Players for 2018: Darnay Holmes

15319328247343. Darnay Holmes (Defensive Back, Sophomore)

Darnay Holmes will quite possibly be one of UCLA’s most exciting players this season. He led the team with 3 interceptions as a true freshman. Holmes, who was a highly-touted 5-star recruit out of high school, is equipped with great instincts, lateral quickness, and rarely gets called for pass interference. He hopefully will improve upon his consistency as he gave up 185 yards and 2 TDs against Memphis WR and NFL 2nd-round selection Anthony Miller. However, Holmes can be credited for holding 2nd-round selection and former Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk (71 receptions, 919 yards, 10 TDs) to just 5 catches for 60 yards for 0 TDs which is extremely impressive for a true freshman as Kirk was widely considered a top-5 WR in the country. He also held USC’s playmaker WR Deontay Burnett (86 receptions 1,114 yards, 9 TDs) to 4 catches for 56 yards and 0 TDs so he has proven he is capable of keeping impact wide receivers in check.  Holmes’s starting experience (11 starts) will help on UCLA’s defense this season and will also continue as a dynamic return man on special teams. We can reasonably expect Holmes to grow into a lockdown cornerback through the season and solidify his status as one of UCLA’s best players.