UCLA vs Utah (Steve Cheng)

A Recruit's Look at UCLA-Utah

Oct. 28 -- We take a closer look at what the top-flight official visitors that were on hand for UCLA's loss to Utah last weekend might have been paying attention to...

With the nation's No. 1-rated inside linebacker and a top defensive tackle in town last weekend, one could make the case that UCLA picked a great day to give up 360 rushing yards in its loss to Utah.

A performance like that one certainly changes the recruiting pitch a bit, as five-star Anthony Hines and four-star Greg Rogers had to either be convinced this was an anomaly or that, yes, the Bruins are in need of some immediate contributors along their front seven. The holes were gaping and the reactions were slow. Hines and Rogers sat in the stands at the Rose Bowl either puzzled by the lack of execution or drawn in by the opportunity for early playing time next year.

The most alarming thing about Joe Williams' 332-yard, four-touchdown performance was the lack of answers. Williams, who had taken a hiatus from football earlier in the season, broke off some big runs in the first half, including a 43-yard score midway through the second quarter, but that was just the start of what would be an embarrassing afternoon for defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.

Where were the adjustments?

UCLA defenders, as coach Jim Mora and Bradley put it, got caught on the wrong side of blocks on running plays. Look at this example of weakside linebacker Jayon Brown, who guesses wrong as shoots up field to attack a gap on a 3rd-and-1 play:

Hines, the No. 19 overall prospect in the Scout 300, told Scout.com the Bruins are looking at him for their middle and weakside linebacker spots. In the play above, Brown gets overly aggressive thinking there is a teammate behind him ready to get in on the tackle, but Kenny Young also gets caught on the wrong side of the blocking left guard and never sniffs out the run. This is just one example, mind you, as Williams tacked on scoring runs of 64 and 55 yards in the second half, so there was plenty for Hines to dissect and consider.


The problems were just as prevalent at defensive tackle as Utah, again and again, pulled a lineman on counter plays to overwhelm the interior. Eddie Vanderdoes was overpowered as he was caught off balance on this long touchdown run:

Rogers, the No. 6-rated defensive tackle in the 2017 class out of Las Vegas (Nev.) Arbor View, isn't tremendously overpowering as a prospect from a strength standpoint, instead using his hands well to shed blockers and his quickness to get into the backfield. He might be more important of a piece than Hines would in the current 4-3 scheme, especially if you consider that Boss Tagaloa would be the most experienced defensive tackle on next year's team after the departures of Vanderdoes and Eli Ankou.

The loss to Utah sure wasn't pretty for the UCLA defense, but it's at least allowed assistants Angus McClure and Scott White to hang a noticeable "help wanted" sign as the cycle moves into peak recruiting season.

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