UCLA is home to one of the most popular NCAA football teams. They’re gearing up for another fun season.
UCLA football hasn’t had the most successful seasons the past few years, but they’ve certainly held a name for themselves. According to College Choice, they rank 22nd out of the top 25 best colleges for college football.
Head coach Chip Kelly seems to be leading the team on the right path and was recently signed to a four-year extension contract through 2025. Kelly first joined UCLA in 2017 and in 2021, he led the Bruins to an 8-4 season. This was their first winning season since 2015.
Though the Bruins haven’t had the best success in the past, their run with Kelly seems promising and with his extension, they seem to have a solid chance at another winning season.
Ranked No. 37 in the FanSided Preseason Top 50 rankings are the UCLA Bruins!
UCLA football 2021 season in review
UCLA undoubtedly fought hard for a winning season. Their biggest winning streak of three happened in their last three games, where it seemed to matter most for the Bruins. They were scheduled to play in the Holiday Bowl, but that was unfortunately canceled due to a UCLA football COVID-19 breakout.
2021 appeared to be a breakthrough season for the Bruins that could potentially continue in 2022. UCLA hasn’t won a Bowl game since 2015, and 2021 seemed to be their chance at breaking the losing streak.
Previewing UCLA Bruins offense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (9): QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, RB Zach Charbonnet, WR Kam Brown, WR Kazmeir Allen, TE Michael Ezeike, LG Antonio Mafi, OC Duke Clemens, RG Jon Gaines II, RT Josh Carlin
- Notable newcomers: WR Jake Bobo (Duke), LT Raiqwon O’Neal (Rutgers), WR Jadyn Marshall (St. Mary’s), WR Titus Mokiao-Antimalala (UCF)
- Impact player: Zach Charbonnet
Zach Charbonnet is virtually unstoppable as a running back. Over the 2021 season, he received 1,137 rush yards, 202 rushing attempts and 13 rushing touchdowns. His impact is highly noticeable in UCLA’s success and he’ll likely help the team to many more victories in 2022.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson is also a great player that deserves recognition. Though he’s struggled with consistency, he’s seemingly getting more comfortable at quarterback every year.
Teammate Jon Gaines II said of Thompson-Robinson (via The Athletic), “He’s the perfect example of how the whole team had to grow. Kinda get thrown into the fire, learned the ropes a little bit and then you start performing. I think for him it’s understanding and building that confidence for himself, then that confidence goes to the whole team.”
The two are likely to have the biggest impact on the Bruins’s success in 2022.
Previewing UCLA Bruins defense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (7): DT Jay Toia, LB Kain Medrano, LB Damian Sellers, CB Devin Kirkwood, CB John Humphrey, S Mo Osling III, S Stephan Blaylock
- Notable newcomers: DE Gabriel Murphy (UNT), DT Jacob Sykes (Harvard), LB Darius Muasau, NB Azizi Hearn (Wyoming)
- Impact player: Azizi Hearn
Azizi Hearn has yet to play for UCLA, but he’s expected to make a big impact. In 2021, he produced 22 solo tackles and eight assist tackles. The Bruins defense faced several changes coming into this season, most notably leader Qwuantrezz Knight leaving after being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.
Overall, the defense is a little bit unpredictable right now. Big changes occurred, but each defensive player is anticipated to play well together.
UCLA football players awards watch for 2022 season
Nine UCLA players have been named to the preseason watch list for several different awards.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet, Maxwell/Davey O’Brien/Doak Walker
Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet have both been named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list. This is Thompson’s third time joining the list and Charbonnet’s first. The Maxwell Award is given annually to the best college football player that’s decided by a panel of sportscasters, sportswriters and NCAA head coaches.
The Davey O’Brien Award is given to the best college quarterback each season, and the Doak Walker award is given to the best running back. Thompson-Robinson was added to the Davey O’Brien Award watch list, and Charbonnet was added to the Doak Walker.
In 2021, Thompson-Robinson had 176 completions, 283 passing attempts, 62.2 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns and 2,409 yards.
According to All Bruins, “Thompson-Robinson is within reach of breaking a few of UCLA’s all-time passing records, considering he is just 15 touchdowns away from surpassing Brett Hundley and 3,168 yards away from surpassing Cade McNown.”
Both are huge factors in the Bruins success last season.
Darius Muasau and Carl Jones, Butkus
Darius Muasau and Carl Jones were recently named to the Butkus Award preseason watch list. The Butkus Award is given to the top linebacker in the country each season.
Muasau has yet to play with UCLA, but he’s expected to step into the top inside linebacker position for the 2022 season. In 2021, he completed 108 tackles (65 solo and 43 assists), seven sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception.
Jones has played with UCLA for several years and has increasingly gotten better each year. In 2021, he completed 18 tackles (nine solo and nine assists), 0.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
Jake Bobo, Biletnikoff
Jake Bobo was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which honors the best college receiver annually. Bobo will begin his first season with UCLA in 2022.
UCLA hasn’t had any players on the Biletnikoff Award watch list since 2017, so Bobo’s impact will be significant.
In 2021, Bobo had 74 receptions, 794 receiving yards, 10.7 yards per reception average and one receiving touchdown. According to All Bruins, no UCLA player has ever won a Biletnikoff Award.
Michael Ezeike, Mackey
Michael Ezeike was named to the Mackey Award watch list. The Mackey Award annually honors the best college tight end.
Ezeike may not noticeably be the best player, but he has continuously improved each season. In 2021, he had three receptions, 45 receiving yards, 15 yards per reception and one receiving touchdown.
Kazmeir Allen, Hornung
Kazmeir Allen was the seventh Bruin to be named to a preseason watchlist. He’s on the watchlist for the Hornung Award, which is annually given to the most versatile player.
No UCLA player has won the Hornung Award, but a few have made the watchlist in the past.
Allen has played a couple of different positions with UCLA, and most recently became a wide receiver in 2021. In 2021, he made eight rushing attempts, 93 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
Chase Griffin, Wuerffel Trophy
Chase Griffin was announced to the Wuerffel Trophy preseason watchlist, which honors players for community service.
According to UCLA, “His numerous community service endeavors include experiences with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the Boost Mobile Holiday event, LA After School All-Stars, Be the Match Marrow Donor Registry and the LA Unified Schools.”
Griffin is a great leader and has had a positive impact on UCLA.
Jack Landherr IV, Mannelly Award
Jack Landherr IV was named to the Mannelly Award watchlist, which recognizes the best college FBS long snapper.
Landherr has had a big impact on UCLA for several years and according to UCLA, he’s successfully executed snaps for all of the team’s place kicks and punts over the last 28 games.
UCLA football biggest game on 2022 schedule
UCLA will face Utah on Oct. 8, which could be the biggest game of the season. It could potentially set up their success to the Pac-12 title game, according to College Football News.
Utah had great success last season and went 10-4. They beat UCLA 44-24 in a home game. UCLA may have an advantage this year by hosting Utah, but they will need to play their best to beat the Utes.
The Utes have won 25 conference championships and the Bruins have won 17. UCLA has also won a national championship, so they have the potential to win as long as they play their best.
UCLA football best-case scenario
A best-case scenario for UCLA this season would be to make it to the conference championships. With their great returning starters and several new players who have accomplished a lot in their college careers, they have a legitimate shot at making it far if they utilize their potential.
Though they probably won’t win a national championship because their defense isn’t as developed as other teams, they could likely be on an upward curve from their past unsuccessful seasons.
With the number of close games they had last season, they could likely win 10 throughout the 2022 season.
UCLA football worst-case scenario
It’s likely that the defense could not improve considering it’s unpredictable right now. Their best defensive player isn’t returning, and though they’re expected to have incoming talent, it’s not clear how the defense will play together.
Making the championships would be difficult in this situation, and they could likely have another unsuccessful season. This would be difficult to face considering the breakthrough they had last season.
UCLA 2022 season prediction
Anything could happen with UCLA this season, but their defensive lineup seems to have enough potential for a best-case scenario to be more likely than worst-case scenario.
With several factors, including the returns of Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet, the extension of Kelly and several incoming defensive players with a lot of talent, UCLA will likely carry off the successful end of last season and do even better this season.
UCLA is seemingly going through a lot of growth and development with upgrades happening where they are much needed. The biggest concerns of the team are being addressed, and they’ll likely have a great season.
UCLA football 2022 bowl game prediction
College Football News has the Bruins projected to stay close to home in the postseason with their work having them in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl to face off with Boise State on Dec. 17.
Up next: No. 36: Florida State Seminoles
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