Coach: Jim Mora Jr. (19-8, entering third season; 19-8 overall)
2013 record: 10-3 (6-3 in Pac-12 Conference, second in South Division)
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Look back: UCLA is coming off one of its most successful seasons in close to a decade. The Bruins won 10 games for the first time since 2005. However, the team missed out on its third straight Pac-12 title-game appearance, losing to Arizona State in their penultimate regular-season game. UCLA was a relatively young squad and featured 34 freshmen in 2013, meaning the Bruins now boast an abundance of depth heading into 2014.
Offensive starters returning: 8
Offensive starters lost: 3
Defensive starters returning: 8
Defensive starters lost: 3
Key losses: WR Shaq Evans, WR Darius Bell, DE Cassius Marsh, LB Jordan Zumwait, LB Anthony Barr
Top returnees: QB Brett Hundley, RB Jordan James, WR Jordan Payton, WR Devin Fuller, C Jake Brendel, LB Myles Jack, LB Eric Kendricks, S Anthony Jefferson, CB Fabian Moreau, CB Ishmael Adams
Strengths: Eight starters return on the offensive side of the ball, led by quarterback Brett Hundley. He toyed with the idea of leaving for the NFL in the offseason, but ultimately chose to return to UCLA for his redshirt junior season. The move opens the door for Hundley to continue his assault on the school record books. Last season he completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns, and his 748 yards on the ground was the third-highest output by a Bruins quarterback in school history. While Hundley led the Bruins on the ground, senior Jordan James and sophomore Paul Perkins combined to rush for more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.
UCLA’s offensive line returns four starters who have a combined 69 career starts under their collective belts, with the group led by center Jake Brendel (27 starts) and left tackle Simon Goines (20).
UCLA had one of its best defensive seasons since 2009, with the Bruins allowing just 23.2 points per game in 2013. That’s a testament to defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who in a short time has developed some of the best talent in the Pac-12, including linebacker Myles Jack (75 total tackles), who steps into a larger role for the Bruins this season after bursting onto the scene last season and earning the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year honors. He’ll be joined by linebacker Eric Kendricks, who led the team with 106 tackles.
Weaknesses: UCLA finished 2013 last in the Pac-12 in penalties, with the Bruins being called for a staggering 105 penalties and ranked as one of the most penalized teams in the nation, getting hit with 73 penalty yards per game. UCLA’s secondary is young and features several players who earned much of their playing experience in 2013. Cornerbacks Ishmael Adams and Fabian Moreau have combined for 25 starts while safeties Anthony Jefferson (13) and Randall Goforth (18) should provide solid contributions.
Outlook: With 16 returning starters and a variety of talented young players, UCLA is poised for another successful season. The Bruins face key road games against Texas (Sept. 13) and Arizona State (Sept. 25) early, but tough matchups against Oregon, USC and Stanford all happen at home.
Aug. 30 at Virginia
Sept. 6 Memphis
Sept. 13 at Texas
Sept. 25 at Arizona State
Oct. 4 Utah
Oct. 11 Oregon
Oct. 18 at California
Oct. 25 at Colorado
Nov. 1 Arizona
Nov. 8 at Washington
Nov. 22 USC
Nov. 28 Stanford
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