The glass is half-Fuller — After slow start gets them booed, Bruins respond behind QB Brett Hundley (4 TD’s) and WR Devin Fuller (3 TD’s), as Colorado puts up a lot more of a fight than expected in UCLA’s 45-23 less-than-impressive victory
In the pre-Mora Era, UCLA fans would relish a 22-point victory over a Pac-12 foe. But this is a new time for the Bruins. Expectations are higher for the Nationally-ranked Bruins. And when you allow a team as weak as Colorado to still be in the game in the 4th quarter, you are NOT meeting those expectations.
The Bruins were favored by 4 Touchdowns, but you’d never know it from the first 14 minutes of the game. While the Bruins went 3-and-out with their first two possessions, Colorado’s Offense enjoyed success, repeatedly converting 3rd Downs through the air, marching down the field twice in a row. The Bruins were not pressuring the Colorado QB, and the UCLA Secondary was playing soft, giving the Colorado Receivers too much space to move the chains. The Buffs missed a make-able Field Goal on the first drive, then made one to culminate the second.
On the Bruins’ third drive, they started with another unsuccessful running play, and the hometown crowd actually booed their home team. The boos were directed at the Offensive Coordinator, for what appeared to be an ultraconservative Offensive gameplan. Did O.C. Noel Mazzone hear the boos and react? The very next play was a long bomb from Brett Hundley to Devin Fuller, resulting in a 76-yard Touchdown. In one play, UCLA gained more Passing Yards than they did all game long in Oregon. It was Hundley’s longest TD pass of his career, and it shook the cobwebs off him and his Offense.
But it didn’t demoralize Colorado, who responded immediately with a Touchdown drive, culminated with a pass to Paul Richardson, who beat Fabian Moreau. Moreau has looked good this year, but Colorado must have seen something in the films, because they exploited the cushion Moreau allowed, targeting him with down-and-outs during long drives, and beating him in the end zone for their first TD of the game. That being said, it was Anthony Jefferson’s mistake, failing to cover a Running Back, that accounted for the biggest gainer of the drive.
So in the middle of the second quarter, the #20 Bruins were down 10-7 to the not-even-close-to-being-ranked Buffaloes. Not deterred, UCLA came right back, with a solid drive to go back up 14-10, on a Hundley 11-yard run, that looked like a planned scramble up the middle. UCLA forced a fumble on the ensuing Kickoff, and the Bruins quickly punched it in, this time on a 6-yard pass to Fuller, giving the Bruins a 21-10 lead. Colorado added another Field Goal before the Half, so at 21-13, it was still only a one-possession game at the break.
In the 3rd, UCLA scored on runs by Hundley and Damien Thigpen to get some breathing room at 38-13, but the Buffaloes didn’t quit. Going against a surprisingly soft, conservative UCLA Defense, and bolstered by 2 Personal Foul penalties, Colorado mounted a 75-yard TD drive making it a two-possession game at 35-20. The teams then traded Field Goals, so it was 38-23 late in the 4th — still only a two-possession game. The Bruins put it away with 3:36 to go, when Hundley threw a backwards pass to Fuller, who turned it into an 8-yard TD (which counts as a RUSHING Touchdown for Fuller).
The bottom line is that the Bruins will need to ramp it up quite a bit if they want to win any more games. This effort would not have been good enough to beat any of the teams left on their schedule, including u$c. The Bruins racked up only 18 1st Downs, compared to 26 for Colorado, and UCLA gained only 134 yards on the Ground. Worst of all, the Bruins amassed 11 penalties for 122 yards. That lack of discipline would be deadly against their upcoming foes. Of course INJURIES are a valid excuse for some of their troubles, as the Offensive Line is still decimated, and the Defense is hampered by the absence of Linebacker and Leading Tackler Eric Kendricks.
Speaking of injuries, Running Back Jordon James returned in limited fashion, but was ineffective. If he gets healthy and Kendricks returns, maybe it will be enough to coax enough improvement from the team, to keep this “winning streak” going.
Below are 50 game and CHEER photos from Saturday’s event. Enjoy, and check back often for another 100 Cheerleader pics, coming soon.