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Kicking, trench play dominate the recent UCLA discussion

Earlier today, we discussed that the son of former UCLA kicker Pete Boermeester -- the Bruins' record-holder for consecutive games with a made field goal (15) -- was set to compete for archrival USC's placekicker job. It turns out that this interesting twist was part of a larger theme: UCLA kickers -- past, present and future -- have populated the news lately.

Last week, the Bruins secured the commitment of five-star kicker J.J. Molson, whom Chris Sailor ranks as the country's No. 2 leg in the 2016 recruiting class. Molson will be expected to take over for current kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, whose eligibility will be exhausted after this coming season. Go Joe Bruin published a piece in defense of the senior kicker today, claiming that he still catches too much flak for his 55- and 50-yard missed attempts at the end of UCLA's 30-28 loss to Utah last year. Some of the statistics presented in that article highlight just how unforgiving the kicker's job can be: Fairbairn nailed 82 percent of his field goals last year -- good for No. 19 in the nation and just barely behind Utah's Andy Phillips (82.1 percent) for tops in the Pac-12 -- yet he continues to face criticism. So a kicker's life is, indeed, lonely.

UCLA's defensive line, which must overcome the losses of Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Ellis McCarthy to the NFL, has been another recent point of discussion. This unit still possesses considerable frontline talent in the form of Eddie Vanderdoes, Kenny Clark, and Takkarist McKinley, but concerns about depth beyond that have caused some to wonder if defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will ditch his previously favored 4-3 scheme and keep the Bruins in a 3-4.

Then there's the other line. Stanford has defeated UCLA seven consecutive times, so it's safe to say that the Bruins have a problem with that particular opponent that they're trying to address this offseason. The popular consensus is that the hogs up front must improve their play for UCLA to get over the Cardinal hump. With every starter returning up front, there's optimism in Westwood.