Gary Doran

Advanced Stats Report: UCLA Bruins


The UCLA Bruins come to Tempe for the first home game in the month of October for the Sun Devils.  If the trend holds true between these two teams, then a win may be tough to come by for ASU, as each team has won games on the other’s home field since Jim Mora and Todd Graham took other their respective programs. ASU will be hoping to break that trend this year against a talented UCLA squad.

UCLA leads the series against ASU 19-12, with one tie. In the first ten games of the series, ASU won only one game. However, since 1990, the series has been all even at 11-11. Another way of looking at the series is that against Terry Donahue, the Devils were 4-11-1, and against the other four UCLA coaching staffs, the series is tied at 8-8. Here are the records by ASU coaches, as only two of the eight have records better than .500 against the Bruins:


Below are the stats from the 2015 Bruin season: (2015 Record, Overall: 8-5 – Conference: 5-4)


Offense – During the Jim Mora tenure, the number of rushing attempts has decreased each season
– In 2015, eight conference teams ran the ball more times than UCLA, however, only three teams had a    better yards per carry average, and only four teams scored more rushing touchdowns
– Last season, UCLA had the second best yards per carry average in the conference in games on the road
– Last season, the UCLA run game got off to a slow start, scoring only three rushing touchdowns in the first  quarter, while gaining the fewest first down and runs over ten yards in the first quarter
– Last year, the Bruins scored eleven of their 26 rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, and gained their  most first downs on the ground in the third quarter too
– Last year, the Bruins scored half their rushing touchdowns when they were ahead in the game by more  than seven points, whereas when they were behind by more than seven points, they only scored two  touchdowns on the ground
– Last season, only Washington and California had yards per carry averages worse than UCLA on third  down and short yardage
– During the 2015 season, less than six-percent of the total yards gained on the ground happened on third  down
– No third down rushing touchdowns last year covered more than three yards
– Only twice last year was the UCLA running game held under four yards per carry in a game; Utah: 2.76  and ASU: 2.21
– Last season, UCLA got almost half of all their runs over 20 yards in the fourth quarter
– As UCLA moved the ball down the field, they averaged getting a rushing first down at a greater  percentage of their carries, until they got into their opponents’ red zon e
Own 1-yard line to own 20-yard line………………………….19.72% of carries
Own 21-yard line to own 39-yard line…………………….….25.78% of carries
Own 40-yard line to opponents 40-yard line………………27.78% of carries
Opponents 39-yard line to opponents 21-yard line………38.67% of carries
Opponents red zone…………………………………………………18.52% of carries

– UCLA threw more passes last season than any other team in the Jim Mora tenure, and also had the lowest  completion percentage
– Each month of the season last year, the number of interceptions thrown by the Bruins went down, while  the passing attempts went up
– During a five game stretch last year, Josh Rosen went five straight conference games without throwing an  interception in 211 pass attempts
– UCLA was third in the conference last year for the most pass receptions covering more than ten yards
– Last season, UCLA completed 16 first half touchdown passes and only seven in the second half
– In the first three quarters of their games last year, UCLA completed 62.5-percent of their passes, while in  the fourth quarter the completion percentage dropped to only 46.1-percent
– Only two teams last year had worse pass completion rates in their opponents red zone than UCLA; ASU and Oregon State
– During the first three quarters of their games last season, the Bruins averaged passing the ball 55-percent  of the time, while in the fourth quarter, the average dropped to 47-percent
– On third down last season, only two conference teams had a lower pass completion rate than UCLA;  however, when they did throw a third down pass they got the second highest percentage of first downs on  those passes in the conference
– UCLA had the third highest third down conversion rate in the conference last season
– UCLA was seventh last season in the percent of times they were able to score a touchdown from within  their opponents’ red zones
– UCLA tied ASU last year for fifth in the conference for the fewest times they turned the ball over


Defense– Overall last year, the UCLA run defense was pretty much in the middle of the pack in the conference in  most statistical categories
– Last season, the Bruin defense faced more rushing plays than any other conference team, (587)
– In eight of the 13 games played last year, the Bruin defense gave up one or no rushing touchdowns
– In the eight games they won last year, the Bruin defense only gave up five rushing touchdowns, however,  in the five games they lost, they gave up twelve touchdowns on the ground
– Playing at home last season, the UCLA defense surrendered an average of 3.68 yards per carry, while on  the road the average jumped to 4.67
– UCLA tied for third last year in the conference in the number of rushing touchdowns they allowed from  within their own red zone
– When the Bruins were ahead in their games last season, it took opponents an average of 36 rushing  attempts to score a touchdown on the ground, but when they were behind, it only took 26 rushing  attempts
– In the first quarter of their games last year, the Bruin defense allowed an average of only 3.21 yards per  carry, while in the remaining three quarters, the average increased to 4.77
– Last year, opponents ran the ball twelve time on fourth down against the Bruins and make a first down  nine times, a 75-percent success rate
– When the Bruin defense had its opponents pinned back within their own 20-yard line last season, the  Bruin defense was somewhat generous in allowing an average of 6.77 yards per carry
– The UCLA pass defense was at the top or near the top in most categories for the season last year
– Last year, there were seven games in which the Bruins allowed only one or no touchdown passes to be  completed
– In seven road games last season, the UCLA defense only allowed 45.7-percent of opponent passes to be  completed, and only surrendered eight touchdown passes
– Last year, the Bruins only allowed six touchdown passes in the first half, while giving up twelve in the  second half
– Last year, UCLA intercepted nine passes when they were ahead in the game and only three when they  were behind
– The Bruins got half their interceptions last season when their opponents were faced with third down and  seven or more yards to go
– When an opponent passed the ball on third down last year against the Bruins, less than a third of those    passes generated a first down, which was best in the conference
– When opponents crossed the Bruin 40-yard line, the defense held them to only a 46.6-percent completion   rate, while everywhere else on the field, the completion rate was 62.1-percent
– In the first two years of the Jim Mora era, UCLA was third and fourth in limiting opponent third down  conversions, while in the last two year, they dropped to eighth and sixth
– Last season, UCLA was seventh in the conference in the percentage of times they scored a touchdown  within their opponents’ red zones, as a note, they were sixth the previous year with an experienced  quarterback
– In the first two years of the Jim Mora era, the Bruins had a +17 in turnover margin, mainly on the  strength of gaining more turnovers, however, in the past two seasons, the net turnover number is zero;  largely due to a reduced number of takeaways


Over the past four years, the run game had become a greater part of the Bruin offense with Brett Hundley as a signal caller for three of those four years. It’s doubtful that trend will continue going forward with a good passer having a year’s experience under his belt and a new offensive coordinator in place. The run game did well in the early downs, but suffered on third down and other critical situations. This could be in part, because teams were not afraid of the UCLA’s true freshman quarterback and keyed a bit more on the run.

UCLA’s young signal caller did a good job of protecting the ball, and put up decent passing numbers for the season. However, his inexperience showed in the decline in his production during critical situations. Obviously, a full year’s experience should improve those numbers.

The statistics would indicate that the Bruins had a pretty good run defense, however, the numbers also point to a team that loses focus at times during games. There must be a reason why UCLA faces the fourth highest percentage of running plays against them in the conference. It is either respect for the pass defense, or a belief that opportunities can be exploited against the run defense.

Up to last season’s third place finish, UCLA had been in the bottom half of the conference in the percentage of passes they allowed to be completed. On the whole, UCLA is not a ball-hawking pass defense, but seems to get somewhat aggressive when the situations appear to be ripe. The pass defense also seemed to be stingier than most other conference teams when playing on the road. It will be interesting to see how that plays out this season at Sun Devil Stadium.

Everything indicates that UCLA is a team on the rise in the coming season, while ASU possesses a significant number of unknowns. The road team has been the winner in each game during Todd Graham’s tenure. UCLA has a young, but experience and talented signal caller, while ASU will not have an experienced signal caller but one that is young.  It will be interesting.

Source: and

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

Recommended for you