UCLA Football Predictions

Written by Vegas Top Cappers | July 31, 2013

2013 UCLA Football Predictions

With consecutive PAC-12 South Division titles, the UCLA Bruins have most of the pieces in place to make an attempt at a “three-peat” in 2013. Twelve starters return for head coach Jim Mora’s second season in Westwood, with his first season resulting in a 6-3 conference mark, 9-5 overall, although the team finished with consecutive losses; to Stanford in the PAC-12 championship game and to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.

It’s always beneficial to have a QB returning who put up big numbers the previous season, and redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley fits the bill following his outstanding first season (3,745 yards passing for 29 TDs, 355 yards rushing, 9 TDs). Hundley is athletic, intelligent and a natural leader, all qualities any major college coach would desire for their signal-caller. Also returning is Hundley’s primary target last season, senior WR Shaquelle Evans. The transfer from Notre Dame hauled in a team-leading 60 balls for 877 yards and 3 TDs, while also returning punts for the Bruins. That’s the offensive “good news.” On the flip side, all-time UCLA career rushing leader (4,369 yards) Johnathan Franklin has graduated and the depth behind him was minimal.

Redshirt freshman Paul Perkins was the focus of attention in the spring, but Damien Thigpen and Malcolm Jones have the edge in experience. Replacing at least some of Franklin’s numbers will help offensive balance plus eliminate a lot of pressure from Hundley and Evans.

Four starters return along the O-line, but the lone loss was Jeff Baca, who was the heart-and-soul of the unit for four seasons. Another major loss was All-American punter Jeff Locke, who bailed out the Bruins on more than a few occasions with his booming punts. To further add to the “bad news,” big (6’7) TE Joe Fauria has exhausted his eligibility, and his leadership will be missed perhaps more than his production, which was considerable.

The Bruins have a jumbled-up mess in the defensive secondary with only one starter returning, safety Tevin McDonald. The potential candidates to fill the holes aren’t lacking in talent, but have little or no experience, a risky proposition in the pass-happy PAC-12. Up front, despite the loss of DE Datone Jones, experienced players return, led by Ellis McCarthy. The Bruins also brought in some highly-touted recruits to help with depth.

The linebacking unit could be one of the better UCLA groups in years, with Jordan Zumwalt and Anthony Barr legitimate all-conference candidates. This unit has depth and talent, and collectively have a nose for the ball.

It may be asking too much for a repeat of last season’s surprising outcome, but with a potentially lethal passing battery in Hundley and Evans, scoring points shouldn’t be a concern. However, if none of the many RB candidates pan out, there WILL be concern. The defense should be among the PAC-12’s best, with as many elite athletes as any other conference team can trot out. Eight wins for Mora’s second Bruins squad sounds about right, but add a couple more if they develop a ground game.

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