After previously taking a look at Head Coach Jim Mora, and coordinators Noel Mazzone and Lou Spanos, we'll now take a closer look at the position coaches on the offensive side of the ball. While their efforts may go largely unnoticed, the position coaches have done a great job in both coaching their positions and recruiting.
Running Backs Coach Steve Broussard
Coach Broussard walked into a pretty good situation. He had one of the best running backs in UCLA's history on the roster in Sr. Jonathan Franklin, and he had a fairly good stable of backs in reserves including Jr. Damien Thigpen, So. Jordan James, and Fr. Steven Manfro. Quite frankly, the running backs could have looked good without a coach. However, you'd be selling Coach Broussard short if you failed to realize the impact he had.
This season has been Franklin's most productive season by far. In 13 games, he's managed 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he's averaged 6.3 ypc on 268 carries. All of those numbers are career bests. Franklin also has a career best 32 catches for 319 yards and 2 additional touchdowns. Those numbers alone would be fantastic, but what may have gone unnoticed in Franklin's newfound ball control. Prior to this year, Franklin was a bit of a liability when it came to holding on to the ball. This year, Franklin was very secure. In fact, I can only recall one or two fumbles all season.
In addition to Franklin, I was very impressed by Thigpen prior to his injury. Thigpen was enjoying his most productive season by far before his injury, carrying the ball 50 times for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as catching 18 balls for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns.
As a recruiter, Rivals gives Broussard credit for recruiting 3* OT Poasi Moala and 3* LB/S Jayon Brown. It's safe to say that he also played a role in the recruiting of 4* RB's Craig Lee and Jalen Ortiz.
Coach Broussard had a good first season, but next season will give a better idea of his skill level. He deserves credit for turning Jonathan Franklin into a better running back, and likely turned him from a fringe NFL running back into a solid one, but next season he'll be dealing with a starter returning from an injury in Thigpen, underperforming players in Jordan James and Steven Manfro, and freshmen.
Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber
Coach Yarber came to UCLA with quite a reputation as both a recruiter and teacher. There have been some whispers all season that Coach Yarber may not be holding up his end of the bargain on the recruiting trail, which is a problem considering the lack of depth at the receiver positions, but you cannot deny the change in our wide receiving corps.
I thought Coach Yarber did a very good job with Shaq Evans, Devin Lucien, and especially with true freshmen Jordan Payton and Devin Fuller. Evans had easily his best season with 53 catches for 795 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Lucien was off to a promising start as a big time deep threat before a broken collarbone derailed his season. However, Payton and Fuller struck me as Coach Yarber's most impressive work. Despite not getting many balls thrown their way, Payton and Fuller both looked like potential stars. Payton is polished and looks very comfortable catching the ball with his hands, and Fuller looks like a gamebreaker.
This year's class of receivers was good in the West, and you can't help but wonder what is happening on the recruiting front. At this point, the only pure wide receiver commit is 3* Darren Andrews, who happens to be related to Coach Yarber. There are a lot of 4* receivers out of California who never even flirted with UCLA. That said, Coach Yarber has the opportunity to close well, and Rivals does give Coach Yarber credit for recruiting 3* WR/S Mossi Johnson.
Y Receivers Coach Marques Tuiasosopo
Out of all the coaches, Coach Tuiasosopo is the hardest for me to evaluate. He coaches the Y receivers, and there is no arguing that Joseph Fauria had a good season at that position, but his numbers were generally pretty similar to what he did last season, and those of us not involved in the practices cannot tell what type of development has been made.
In addition to coaching the Y receivers, Coach Tuiasosop has been recruiting the northwest and is responsible for signing 4* LB Myles Jack and is in the hunt for 4* Y Danny Mattingly. If he is able to hang on to Jack and sway Mattingly, he could be making quite a name for himself as a recruiting threat. He also recruited 3* Y Ammon Barker, who hopefully is the hidden gem he appears to be.
Running Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Adrian Klemm
Coach Klemm has been nothing but masterful. He molded a passable offensive line out of three freshmen, one sophomore returning from two years away from football, and one senior that has been a nomad during his career at UCLA. No, the offensive line wasn't dominant, but it was far better than expected. Coach Klemm also made a bold statement in starting three freshmen; the best players will play, regardless of age.
Prior to the season, I doubt any of the most dedicated Bruin fans would have thought Simon Goines and Torian White would be the starting tackles. In summer camp, Goines and White missed a lot of time, and played with the second unit when they did play. Xavier Sua-Filo and Jeff Baca spent most of the time as the tackles with the first unit. In a bold move, Coach Klemm moved Sua-Filo and Baca inside to their better positions, and placed two freshman at the tackle spots. It benefitted UCLA's running game by placing two athletic guards in positions where they can pull, but also put a lot of pressure on pass protection. The line gave up a lot of sacks, 46 sacks allowed was 122nd in the nation, and was hit with a lot of penalties, but it still exceeded my expectations.
As good as Coach Klemm was coaching the guys we have on the roster, he was even better bringing talent to the team. Coach Klemm was the primary recruiter with 4* OGs Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond, 4* OT's Christian Morris and Kenny Lacy, 3/4* OG John Lopez, 3* OT Poasi Moala, and 3* C Scott Quessenberry. He was also the primary recruiter with 4* OLB Cameron Judge. It's safe to say that he is an amazing resource with regard to recruiting, and his "8Clap" tweets after each commit manage to get even the most passive fan excited.
Feel free to fire away with your own evaluations. Stay tuned for our next installment where we'll take a look at the defensive position coaches.