Here’s a quick look at how Bradley’s defenses performed during his time at Penn State. We’ve used Yard Per Play to give a general impression of the defense, Sack Percentage to give an idea of how much pressure Bradley likes to bring, and Rush Yards Per Attempt to give an impression of how well his defenses have accomplished their typical main goal.
|Year||Yards Per Play Allowed||Sack Percentage||Opponent Rush Yards Per Carry||Offensive Performance?|
|2011||4.6 (13th)||6.70% (30th)||3.7 (36th)||Below Average Offense|
|2010||5.4 (60th)||4.68% (90th)||4.7 (85th)||Decent Offense|
|2009||4.3 (10th)||7.98% (16th)||2.9 (10th)||Good Offense|
|2008||4.3 (7th)||7.07% (21st)||2.9 (8th)||Very Good Offense|
|2007||4.3 (6th)||9.52% (6th)||2.7 (5th)||Good Offense|
|2006||4.3 (11th)||8.02% (30th)||2.9 (11th)||Mediocre Offense|
|2005||4.1 (4th)||8.23% (12th)||2.6 (5th)||Good Offense|
|2004||4.4 (14th)||5.79% (67th)||3.6 (39th)||Mediocre Offense|
|2003||4.8 (34th)||5.76% (64th)||4.3 (78th)||Dreadful Offense|
|2002||4.6 (NR)||7.15% (NR)||3.1 (NR)||Good Offense|
|2001||5.8 (NR)||6.55% (NR)||4.4 (NR)||Dreadful offense|
|2000||4.9 (NR)||7.73% (NR)||3.6 (NR)||Dreadful Offense|
*We didn’t have ranking data for the 2000 through 2002 seasons, but you can guess from these numbers that the 2002 defense likely ranked among the nation’s elite, while 2000’s defense was also likely a good one.
*We’ve included how the offense performed each year to give some context for what his defense was doing. By and large, Bradley’s defenses carried Penn State through the resurgence the Nittany Lions had during the 2000s, when Penn State only had five offenses we would call “good”.
*It’s probably fair to say that Bradley isn’t a high-volume blitzer, but his sack percentage numbers are more than respectable. The only year where he had a sack percentage well below average was 2010 (statistically the second worst year for his defense), and more often than not, his defenses have been ranked in the top quarter or so in sack percentage.
*Bradley’s stretch from 2004 to 2009 ranks among the best runs for a defensive coordinator in the last ten years, just going by the eyeball test of looking at some of the other top defenses in the country during that period. Through that six year stretch, his defenses never ranked below 14th in yards per play allowed, which is an uncanny level of consistency. That run was built in large part on an elite run defense that had a median ranking of 9th during that six year period.
*In eight of his 12 years as defensive coordinator, Bradley fielded a defense that ranked at least in the top quartile of college football in yards per play (we’re guessing on 2002, but we’re pretty sure it did), and in all but one year (2001, his second on the job), his defenses ranked in the top half.
So, we can safely say Bradley has a deserved reputation as a very good coordinator, with some absolutely elite years on his resume. Now, keep those numbers in mind when we take a look at UCLA's history on defense.
|Year||Yards Per Play Allowed||Sack Percentage||Opponent Rush Yards Per Carry||Coordinator|
|2014||5.0 (34th)||5.51% (82nd)||3.8 (32nd)||Ulbrich|
|2013||4.9 (22nd)||6.64% (39th)||3.9 (42nd)||Spanos|
|2012||5.4 (51st)||8.94% (6th)||4.1 (56th)||Spanos|
|2011||5.8 (87th)||2.89% (111th)||5.2 (106th)||Tresey (lol)|
|2010||6.0 (93rd)||6.49% (42nd)||5.4 (109th)||Bullough|
|2009||5.0 (40th)||6.38% (48th)||4.0 (57th)||Bullough|
|2008||5.0 (48th)||5.11% (64th)||4.4 (86th)||Walker|
|2007||4.4 (13th)||7.20% (30th)||3.1 (14th)||Walker|
|2006||4.6 (25th)||8.68% (15th)||2.8 (7th)||Walker|
|2005||5.9 (101st)||5.75% (46th)||5.4 (116th)||Kerr|
|2004||5.7 (83rd)||4.90% (93rd)||5.1 (111th)||Kerr|
|2003||4.4 (19th)||6.64% (44th)||3.2 (21st)||Kerr|
|2002||5.1 (NR)||8.66% (NR)||3.5 (NR)||Snow|
|2001||4.7 (NR)||Stats Missing||3.3 (NR)||Snow|
|2000||5.4 (NR)||5.18% (NR)||4.4 (NR)||Field|
|1999||5.8 (NR)||5.05% (NR)||4.5 (NR)||Field|
Not one of UCLA's defensive coordinators has had anywhere near the resume, coming into the job, that Bradley has. In fact, with each of the last four defensive coordinators, their position at UCLA was their first time coordinating a defense. And clearly, UCLA has had some pretty significant failures on the defensive side of the ball during the same period that Bradley had elite defenses at Penn State.
It would be foolish to predict anything in terms of defensive improvement at this point, but if you're judging by resumes and track record, Bradley has the best chance for success of any UCLA defensive coordinator in a long, long time.