Daily Focus: UCLA's Vanderdoes is ready for a breakout season
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest college football news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Eddie Vanderdoes ready for a breakout: Just 32 snaps into his junior season, UCLA DT Eddie Vanderdoes appeared primed for a monster year. He was a dominant force for UCLA’s defense in Week 1 against Virginia, picking up six stops on only 19 plays against the run while adding three pressures on 13 rushes. Pairing with Green Bay Packers’ first-round pick Kenny Clark, the duo made it nearly impossible to run the ball as Virginia running backs managed only 82 yards on 29 carries (2.8 yards/carry) and UCLA’s defense was ready to set the tone and make a run at a Pac-12 South championship.
Instead, injury struck and Vanderdoes went down to a knee injury that ended his season. The UCLA defense was never the same as Clark still played well up front, but the lack of a comparable presence at along the defensive interior was evident in a number of Pac-12 games. Star linebacker Myles Jack was injured soon after and UCLA’s front-7 went from strength to mediocre in a matter of weeks.
Heading into 2016, Vanderdoes appears healthy at camp and ready to contribute in the Bruins’ new 4-3 scheme. While he doesn’t have Clark alongside him this season, Vanderdoes is ready for stardom of his own and we expect a big year after ranking him at No. 24 on the PFF College 101. He was a solid player in our 2014 grading as he performed well against the run and about average as a pass rusher. While the sample size was extremely small last season, Vanderdoes had taken his game to a whole new level as he was unblockable in the run game and his pass rushing had taken the step forward necessary to put him among the nation’s top defensive tackles. Bouncing back from injury to full strength is no sure thing, and it may take a few weeks for Vanderdoes to get settled in, but get ready for the former five-star recruit to put it all together as he leads the interior of UCLA’s defense and makes a run to be selected high in next year’s NFL draft.
Camp injuries and departures alter depth charts: As always, injuries pop up during training camp, testing each team’s depth in different ways. Here’s a look at some of the recent notable injuries and departures:
LB Matt Rolin, Florida: It was a frustrating career for Rolin who came to Florida as part of a highly-touted linebacker class in 2013 that also featured Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone, and Daniel McMillian. To date, only Davis has made a significant impact on the field and while Anzalone look to make one last push as seniors, Rolin has decided to call it quits after a number of injuries have limited his time on the field. He didn’t see the field in 2014 then played 77 snaps last season, 71 of which came against Alabama in the SEC Championship and Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Rolin finished last season five stops on 60 plays against the run.
RB Johnny Jefferson, Baylor: Jefferson is out “indefinitely” according to head coach Jim Grobe, sapping a bit of depth from Baylor’s running back depth. He broke out late last year as the Bears altered their offensive approach due to a injuries to their top two quarterbacks. Jefferson ran for 457 yards over the last two games, including 299 yards and three touchdowns against North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Jefferson was slotted to share time with explosive running back Shock Linwood to form one of the nation’s top pairings, but that two-pronged attack will have to wait for the time being. The good news for Baylor is they still have two solid backs in Devin Chafin and Terence Williams, as both players posted strong grades last season.
WR J-Sun Harris, Indiana: An ACL tear will sideline Harris who played the third-most snaps among Indiana receivers back in 2014 with all 18 catches and 168 receiving yards coming out of the slot. He missed last season with an ACL tear and will unfortunately be sideline for the second consecutive season.
OT Jake Campos, Iowa State: Iowa State’s lone returning starter along the offensive line is likely done for the season after breaking his leg. Campos bounced back from a rough 2014 season to put together a solid 2015 campaign while playing 632 snaps at left tackle and 215 at right tackle.