Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes is out for the season after tearing his ACL in UCLA’s 2015 season opener vs. Virginia. (Rachel Luna/Staff)
UCLA rolled through its season opener at the Rose Bowl on Saturday with a 34-16 win over Virginia, but it took a gut punch a day later. An examination revealed that junior defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes had torn his ACL, sidelining the All-Pac-12 honorable mention for the rest of the season.
Here’s a look at what this means for the Bruins’ defense.
How significant is Vanderdoes’ absence?
It’s bad. Entering the season, UCLA’s most indispensable defensive players were linebacker Myles Jack, nose tackle Kenny Clark, and Vanderdoes. He and Clark made up the Bruins’ foundation on the front, which showed in their performance against Virginia. Vanderdoes led the team with eight total tackles and two for loss, while Kenny Clark was right behind him with seven tackles. Take out either of those players, and one of UVa’s first three field goals could have very well turned into touchdowns.
The injury is also a shame because Vanderdoes had just gotten through his first full offseason of football ever. Before this year, the junior had always been held out of year-round football by various injuries — or, when he was in high school, by the fact that he spent the spring playing baseball. Because of that, he was always stuck playing catch-up in terms of his conditioning early on. This year, he entered camp in top shape — only to see his season end less than a full game in.
Who’s going to replace him?
The defensive line depth was a concern for the Bruins this offseason, and although the development of some younger players assuaged that, none of the reserves are currently capable of playing at Vanderdoes’ level. Continue reading