First, let’s look at some overall rankings. The Massey composite ratings site tracks 67 different rating systems together, giving us a sense of where the wisdom of the crowd sees UCLA at this point in the season. These collective ratings give UCLA a mean ranking of 16.87 (12th best in the country) and a median ranking of 14 (tied for 11th in the country), with a standard deviation of 10.00.
This is the highest standard deviation among composite top-15 teams besides Baylor, whose best win is against SMU (surprisingly lovely campus, by the way!), South Carolina, who got annihilated at home by Texas A&M, and Georgia, who lost to South Carolina. This means that people nationally are just as unsure as fans on the message board are of how good the Bruins really are. UCLA’s highest ranking is 2 (send fruit baskets to Matthew Welch) and lowest ranking is 48 (send angry screeds to Bassett Football. A quick note: we’re pretty sure that very few computer-based ranking systems take injuries into account (UCLA fell multiple spots this past week in a bunch of the ratings systems we track despite a road win with a backup QB), which is one of the places voters can actually be superior to consistent numbers-based systems.
Next, we’ll check out how the offense and defense is performing on a yards per play basis. Here, we’re breaking everything down into pass plays and run plays, with sacks counted against the pass numbers instead of the rush numbers. A big caveat here with the numbers is that we are still pretty early, with very few teams having played a conference game, so nationwide rankings and numbers aren’t particularly good.
So far this year, the UCLA offense is averaging 6.43 yards per pass play, which is just slightly above the FBS average of 6.27 and only ahead of Colorado in the Pac 12.
The offense is managing 4.73 yards per run play this year, which is below the FBS average of 4.85 and ninth in the league, ahead of Southern Cal, Cal, and Washington State.
The defense is allowing 6.06 yards per pass play, better than the FBS average of 6.27 but seventh in the Pac-12, ahead of Oregon, Colorado, Washington State, Arizona, and Washington.
The run defense has been the most successful part of the game for the Bruins, allowing 4.06 yards per rush, ahead of the FBS average of 4.85 and third in the league, ahead of Stanford, Washington State, Cal, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State, Colorado, and (thanks, Coach Addazio!) Southern Cal.
Taking a look at the report card for the first ¼ to 1/5 (PLEASE 1/5) of the season:
This shows a team that is clearly not elite yet. The Bruins haven’t been bad by any means, but winning a conference championship basically means beating Oregon at least once, and this isn’t the statistical profile of a team that can be expected to beat the Ducks just yet.
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s have some probably meaningless fun and check out how the defense performs after they have been used on offense.
In an extremely small sample size, it looks like UCLA is performing a little worse when it has to play defense directly after having been used on offense. It’s probably nothing, especially because it doesn’t take into account the much bigger sample size of 2013, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
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PHOTOS BY STEVE CHENG