UCLA’s pass rush, all-but nonexistent early in the season, has made steady improvements the past month.
That was clear in the Bruins’ 44-30 victory over Washington Saturday. They had only three sacks, but spent a good deal of time harassing Huskies’ quarterback Cyler Miles.
“I felt it the last four weeks,” Coach Jim Mora said.
The development of Takkarist McKinley has been a big part of the increased pressure. It gave the Bruins options.
McKinley transferred from Contra Costa College in September and was immediately eligible after a clerical error was discovered in his high school transcripts. He has been effective coming from the outside, allowing defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa to attack from the inside.
“Owa is playing a little more violent, and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” Mora said. “He’s just cutting it loose more.”
He has become a guy who opposing teams need to locate, defensive line coach Angus McClure said.
“He’s athletic enough to move him anywhere,” McClure said. “It makes a difference when people scout us. Multiple guys have to scout Owa and what his moves are.”
Odighizuwa had one sack against Washington. Linebacker Deon Hollins had two, giving him a team-high five of the season. UCLA has 16 sacks as a team.
The best part of the defensive front, according to McClure, is the youth.
“Owa is a senior and Elli McCarthy is a junior,” McClure said. “The rest are freshmen, sophomores and redshirt sophomores.