UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is out for season with knee injury


How will UCLA deal with the loss of linebacker Myles Jack?

The UCLA Bruins have announced that linebacker Myles Jack will miss the remainder of the 2015 season with a “significant” knee injury. Jack was expected to be one of the leaders of the defense this season after finishing last year with 87 tackles, good for the second most on the team.

In the first three games of this campaign, he looked just as good, recording 15 tackles, an interception and even a rushing touchdown. Worse, this is the third time a quality defensive starter has been lost for the entire 2015 season, as Jack joins Eddie Vanderdoes and Fabian Moreau.

This does not bode well for the Bruins, as they are off to a 3-0 start, but struggled mightily in their win against the BYU Cougars. True freshman quarterback Josh Rosen burst onto the college football scene with a great performance in the season opener against the Virginia Cavaliers, but he has regressed the last two games, including a three interception day against BYU.

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With a third key defensive starter out, the Bruins need Rosen and the offense to play better, with the meat of the conference schedule coming up. The Pac-12 as a whole, and the South division in particular, is full of explosive offensive talent.

UCLA is currently second in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 14 points per game, and they are fourth in total defense at 326 yards. However, their schedule so far has been full of teams that struggle on offense. Virginia, UNLV, and BYU are not offensive powerhouses and do not have the kind of talent on that side of the ball that the Bruins will face during Pac-12 play. That starts in Week Four, when UCLA travels to Tucson to take on an Arizona Wildcats squad that just hung 77 points on FCS Northern Arizona.

If you added up the scores of all three opponents in the Bruins’ early season schedule, it would not add up to 77. Even worse is the fact that this is a very important game for both teams. Arizona is the defending Pac-12 South division champions, and UCLA is looking to seize an early lead for themselves.

The South has shown itself to be wide open, with the Trojans losing to Stanford and Arizona State’s offense crumbling after the departure of long time starters Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong. Whomever wins this game on Saturday will have the tiebreaker should these teams end up with equal conference records.

The good news is that the Bruins held Arizona to just seven points in 2014, although Jack played in that game, and the contest was in Los Angeles. This match-up will be in the desert, and you can bet that Rich Rodriguez and company are looking for revenge. While there has been no official announcement on who will replace Jack in the starting lineup, there is a good chance the job falls to junior Jayon Brown who played in 12 games in 2014, mostly on special teams, and had two tackles.

In 2013, he had a better year, being named as the rookie of the year for the conference on special teams, and earned player of the week honors for his special teams play in a win against the Colorado Buffaloes. Brown is a capable player, but not nearly the same kind of athlete as Myles Jack.

Whether the Bruins can weather the storm of injuries remains to be seen, but this news makes an interesting match-up on Saturday even more important for both sides.

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