UCLA had a strong spring practice, so to catch up our dynasty owners on what’s going down in UCLA, we caught up with Mike Regalado, UCLA expert and producer of The What’s Bruin Show. He told us what his major questions are for the upcoming season, what we can expect in the fall as far as WR and TE distribution, and which players he thinks will be breakout performers this year. Get more from Regalado on Twitter @TheBigDisco, and get more info on other teams right here at cfbdynasty.
Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?
Here is the thing about the offense, it was atrocious to start the 2018 season. When center Boss Tagaloa came back from a three-game suspension in the 4th week, the offensive line started to improve. That led to the offense slowly improving as a whole. By season’s end, the offense was able to move the ball with less resistance. Along with offseason improvements, it leads me to believe that the Bruins will not only be in a better position than they were to start the 2018 season, but we will see the offense continue to improve. With everyone on the same page and Kelly using the players he knows can execute his system, UCLA should come out of the starting gate better than last year.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
I questioned the move to bring in QB Wilton Speight as a grad transfer last season, but by the end of 2018, I understood why. Not only did he bring leadership, but his knowledge will be passed down to Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Austin Burton. It is especially important for DTR who will now lead this team. He had a roller coaster season in 2018, but he has learned from it. The biggest issue with him was his accuracy, but he showed improvements in spring. On top of that, he was able to use his legs a lot more (and so will Burton), which helped him get out of a few jams. But overall, I think QB play should be steady with gradual improvements as 2019 progresses.
How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?
Though Chip Kelly will say that he will have an open competition, it is going to be the Joshua Kelley show. The former walk-on made substantial improvements throughout last season as he began to understand the offense. But even though he will get the majority of carries, Kelly keeps bringing in more and more RBs. Next year, he will have a combination of speed and power backs (he even recruited a fullback, which is un-Kelly-like). This tells me that the coach is going to not only use multiple backs but will come up with multiple schemes and I for one can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.
How does the offensive line compare to the 2018 group?
No matter what personnel is used on the line, OC/OL coach Justin Frye will have them running like a well-oiled machine, although it might take a few games to really mesh. The Bruins have to replace three players including their best lineman, Andre James. Still, the Bruins have plenty of talent returning as well as three freshmen joining the team. It will be a bit rocky at first, but they should be just fine by conference play.
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?
It is no secret that Kelly wants to run, but last year he showed that he has no problem slinging the ball around (for example, last year, Speight threw for 466 yards against Stanford). The Bruins lose their leading receiver TE Caleb Wilson, but there are plenty of weapons to choose from. The primary target will be WR Theo Howard who had 51 receptions last year and zero drops. In addition to him, they will use a few up-and-comers like TE Devin Asiasi, TE Jordan Wilson, WR Chase Cota, WR Demetric Felton, and WR Michael Ezeike, to name a few.
For our dynasty owners, who are some young players that stand out as future breakout performers?
Good question. I can see WR Chase Cota becoming a threat in the passing game. I can also see RB Kazmeir Allen breakout as a speedster. On defense, I like S Quentin Lake who continues to show progress. I also like DLs Atonio Mafi and Otito Ogbonnia, who are two big bodies that will make their presence felt breaking through the line.