Fay Pride — With Josh Rosen injured and unavailable, former Walk-On QB Mike Fafaul (pronounced “FAY-ful”) gets his first start, and valiantly rallies UCLA with THREE Second Half TD passes, but it’s not enough to overcome all the penalties, dropped passes, missed blocking assignments, missed tackles, and Jordan Lasley’s crucial fumble with 2:37 left in 27-21 loss at Washington State
It was a lot to ask of the 5th-year back-up QB — Take on Washington State on the road in the rain. WSU had already throttled Stanford, a team that UCLA couldn’t beat, WITH Josh Rosen, IN the Rose Bowl. Also, the Cougars have won three straight while the Bruins were coming off a loss, so the season momentum, and the pointspread, were both in favor of WSU.
Naturally, Mike Fafaul struggled at first in his first start. Some missed reads, missed targets, and a bad Interception, as the Bruins failed to score in the First Half. The Defense kept them in the game, holding the Cougs to just 10 points, thanks especially to an Interception by Jayon Brown in the End Zone. It was only 3-0 for most of the half, but a Second Quarter 91-yard TD drive as the D got tired made it 10-0 at Halftime.
The Offensive sucking was NOT to be blamed on the inexperienced QB, though. More at fault was a fumble by Kenneth Walker III, and the complete failure of the Running Game. The Backs were slipping on the wet turf, especially Nate Starks, and the O-Line was allowing penetration on almost every play. Then the Backs would try to juke or go East-West, and they were unsuccessful.
The Second Half was a different story. Fafaul settled in, the Coaches stopped relying so heavily on the run, and the Receivers got open and made some catches. The one player besides Fafaul who had a good game was WR Darren Andrews, who caught 8 passes for 116 yards and TWO Touchdowns. Jordan Lasley also caught a TD pass, and caught the first pass on what could have been the game-winning drive, but he allowed the ball to be knocked free and recovered by WSU with under 3 minutes left, and that pretty much sewed it up for the Cougars. The Bruins got one more chance with less than a minute, but Fafaul threw another INT.
Just to be complete, let’s critique the Coaching too. The reason the Bruins are losing revolves around losing the battle of the trenches. The opposing team is controlling the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, but especially when UCLA has the ball. The opposing team doesn’t allow holes in their D-Line, gets defensive pressure, and always pressures the Bruin QB. The UCLA Defense does NOT have as much success with any of those facets.
Bruin recruiting has been good, supposedly, for the last 5 years, so that leaves Coaching. The Bruin play calling is still predictable and conservative, and the techniques being executed by the line are simply not working. That means Kennedy Polamalu and Adrian Klemm should be held most accountable. And Jim Mora as well, because he is responsible for Polamalu’s promotion (despite having zero experience) and Klemm’s retention (despite his rule-breaking).
This is turning out to be Mora’s worst year out of his 5, despite an All-American caliber QB, whose injury is due to the Bruins being unable to protect him. At this point, the only things that will have me happy to see Mora return next year are: his hiring of a new O.C, a stellar, Top 10 recruiting class, and beating u$c next month, the latter of which is looking less and less likely. The trojans destroyed Arizona on Saturday, and are moving in the opposite direction from the Bruins. And it can’t be blamed on Fafaul or Rosen’s injury.
Let’s take our minds off of all this doom and gloom, uplifting spirits with these 31 photos of the UCLA Cheerleaders…