UCLA football: What to expect in year one of DeShaun Foster

Feb 13, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  DeShaun Foster answers questions from media after he was
Feb 13, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; DeShaun Foster answers questions from media after he was / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For the past few years, it felt like Chip Kelly was finally turning a corner with UCLA football. The Bruins were winning eight games regularly but he decided it was time for him to move on, joining Ohio State's staff as offensive coordinator.

Yes, it's weird for a head coach to downgrade his position in the same conference with a new team without being forced out, but Kelly felt like he would see more success in Columbus.

And he will but he's doing so as a second or third in command instead of the lead guy.

Now, it's DeShaun Foster's turn in Los Angeles. He's taking over the program as a first-time head coach at the age of 44 and he looks poised to get his guys to buy in early on. The players seem to love Foster as the former NFL running back looks to prove that he can be a head coach at the Power Four level despite having just eight years of experience at the level as a running backs coach.

So what will the expectations be in year one of Foster?

That's a tough question to answer given the fact that the team is going to look a lot different than the one that went 8-5 a season ago. There will be a new quarterback taking over as Dante Moore transferred to Oregon which means that the offense could struggle early on. Ethan Garbers and Collin Schlee have experience so we'll see if they can steady the rocking ship.

But let's just say that this team was as talented as the one from a season ago, how would it fare in this new Big Ten schedule?

Well, the Bruins will likely begin the year 2-0 with wins over Hawaii and Indiana before facing three straight top-15 teams in LSU, Oregon, and Penn State in back-to-back-to-back weeks. Those are three losses right there. They'll get a chance to right the ship in the following two games against Minnesota and at Rutgers, but I think in the likely scenario, that's a split.

So at 3-4 at the bye, the Bruins will need to go 3-2 in the final five games to earn a bowl bid. They'll lose at Nebraska, probably lost to Iowa at home, fall at Washington, and likely drop one to USC before ending the season with a win over Fresno State.

The most likely scenario this season for UCLA under Foster is a 4-8 season with growing pains but best-case scenario, the Bruins steal one against a team like Iowa or Nebraska and/or go 2-0 against Minnesota and Rutgers to reach six wins. However, this feels like a 4-8 or 5-7 team and that's OK in year one of Foster in a brand-new conference.

Just have to build on this and recruit well.

Next. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. dark