Underdog Utes are Brutes to Bruins — #19 Utah takes it to 7-point favorite UCLA 52-45, as Ute Running Back Joe Williams churns out 332 yards on the ground (compared to the Bruins’ 46), while UCLA’s back-up QB Mike Fafaul commits 5 Turnovers, spoiling his record-breaking 40-for-70 (464 yard) game
And I wonder, still I wonder — Who’ll Stop the Run. Not UCLA, not in this game.
The Bruins have had many problems this year, but stopping the Run was not expected to be the big one against Utah on Saturday. The bigger problem was supposed to be UCLA’s inability to run the ball themselves. Well, that WAS a big problem. The Bruins gained only 46 yards on the ground. But on this day, they realized they couldn’t run, so they stopped trying, and had back-up QB Mike Fafaul throw the ball… 70 times (a new UCLA All-Time Record).
Fafaul completed 40 of them (also a new UCLA All-Time Record) for 464 yards and FIVE TD’s, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome his 4 Interceptions and Lost Fumble. It MIGHT have been enough, if the Bruin Defense showed up. The breakdown in defending Utah actually started with Special Teams, as the Utes returned the Opening Kickoff 99 yards for a Touchdown. Then after the Bruins went 3-and-out with two useless runs and a pass short of the line needed for a first down, Utah struck on a deep pass and then scored on a short run to make it 14-0 while most fans were still tailgating.
But there is no quit in the Bruins, who turned it around quickly with 21 straight points, all still in the first quarter. Fafaul threw two of his TD passes in the 1st quarter, one to Bolu Olorunfunmi, who also ran for a score, and one to Nate Iese, who caught another TD later in the game.
The Offfensive Line couldn’t block for the running game, and they were barely able to give Fafaul time to throw. Fafaul was pressured repeatedly, but he showed some savvy at avoiding the pass rush and getting rid of the football just as he was about to get murderized. Fafaul played an okay game, and was fairly valiant under the circumstances. But the increased confidence that he developed actually led to his undoing. He kept throwing the ball into coverage, and he paid dearly for it. The Utes picked off 4 of his passes, and should have caught about a half-dozen more, including the desperation heave at the end of the game.
But I do not pin this loss on Fafaul. Although his 5 Turnovers put the Defense in tough situations, it does NOT explain how a previously stellar Defensive Unit could let one Running Back gain 332 in one game. If the Defense had just forced one more punt than they did, the game could have been even. In fact, the game was even, at 35-35, in the 3rd quarter, after a 75-yard Fafaul TD pass to Jordan Lasley, but Utah RAN up 10 straight points. UCLA cut it to 7, but then a 55-yard Joe Williams TD run made it 14. The Bruins cut it back down to 7, and got the ball back for a chance to tie with about a minute to go, but couldn’t get it done. It didn’t help that the last Bruin Kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Utes the ball at the 35, so even though the Bruin Defense held, when the Offense got the ball back, it was DEEP in their own territory.
The Bruins were plagued by penalties, dropped passes, and missed blocking assignments as usual, but add in the Turnovers and missed tackles — that AREN’T as usual — and that recipe spells defeat at the hands of a ranked team like Utah.
The Bruins have now lost 4 of their last 5, are 3-5 on the year, and 1-4 in the Conference. Basically, the season is already shot to hell. As far as I’m concerned, start game-planning for sc right now. That’s the only game where a win could salvage the season. But wait, did I say game-planning? Is there any evidence that our offensive Offensive Coordinator Kennedy Polamalu has ever game-planned anything? And will his heart even be in it when we face his beloved Alma Mater u$c? I think he may be a plant from SC, sent to Westwood just to sabotage the team.
With the season already swirling the (Rose) bowl, all I can say is: At least we still have the best Cheerleaders in the World. Utah did have one girl that I must admit was absolutely stunning, but as a whole, the UCLA Spirit Squad is still the dominant force in the Realm of Cheerdom.
And one last note — I’m not going to embarrass her or cause her any grief by giving her name, but I have to send a huge and sincere thank you to someone, just for her heartwarming kindness, patience, and compassion, in lending me a sympathetic ear on Saturday. It was greatly appreciated, and it really, really helped me deal with some distress. And btw, there was another bombshell in that matter (during the game!).
Meanwhile, let’s get to 77 more photos, from the game first, and then, Cheerleader photos. And don’t forget, the UCLA Spirit Squad is doing some crowd funding. Support them by clicking here: https://spark.ucla.edu/project/2677 or support them AND this site by clicking here: https://beatsc.com/donationscontact-us
[Note: I did not get every girl today. There were extenuating circumstances — the normal posed photo ops did not occur, and only Squad ALUMNI performed in my section of the stadium. The usual (and greatly appreciated) ROTATION did not happen. I’m sorry — I always try to get everyone. There will be a lot more pics this week, but it still won’t be all-inclusive. However, it was AWESOME to see familiar faces Alayna, Lona, Danielle, Paula, Josslyn, McKenna, Juliet and others.]