The Tease After The Trees — After losing to Stanford, the Bruins teased their fans with a solid first half against Oregon — stunningly, it was 14-14 at the break — before collapsing in the second half to lose 42-14

For 30 minutes, UCLA did the impossible:  They completely contained the vaunted Oregon Offense.  The Ducks lost a fumble on their first possession, leading to a quick 7-0 Bruin lead.  Oregon was able to tie it, but only by using trickery — a fake punt that gained 66 yards.

With Bruin defenders Jordan Zumwalt, Eric Kendricks, Myles Jack, Anthony Barr, Anthony Jefferson, Randall Goforth, Fabian Moreau, Ishmael Adams, and Brandon Sermons flying all over the field, the Ducks were able to score only one more time the rest of the half.  Zumwalt was especially disruptive, but he was also on the verge of receiving taunting and personal foul penalties.  The swagger has its merits, but he needs to be careful to avoid a suspension, ala Cassius Marsh.  Kendricks was omnipresent and sure, Barr caused a fumble by stripping the Duck QB Marcus Mariota, and also recovered a fumble by Mariota, and Jack blocked a punt that led to the tying Touchdown.

The Bruins were able to run the ball well behind the uber-young O-Line, relying on good instincts by Paul Perkins and Malcolm Jones.  That ground attack kept the clock running, and that kept Oregon’s Offense on the sidelines.  It was a good strategy, but the conservative attack stymied the Bruin Offense in the long run.  A lack of a vertical passing game doomed UCLA.  QB Brett Hundley had one great scramble, one rushing TD, and 1 TD pass to Thomas Duarte, but otherwise he was off-target and hesitant.  The young Line didn’t give him a lot of time, and a rushed Hundley made some bad decisions, including two deadly interceptions.

In the second half, the Bruin Defense wore down.  With the UCLA Offense unable to get First Downs, their Defense tired out, allowing 4 straight Oregon Touchdowns to break the game open.  I understand that the Bruins had to run a lot.  The young blockers were better at run-blocking than at pass-blocking, and the Bruins wanted to shorten the game by keeping the clock running.  But the play-calling was bland and predictable, and just too conservative.  They ran Steven Manfro up the middle on a 3rd and 5, and went with Perkins on a 4th and 2 instead of using the more powerful Jones.  And when they did pass, it was swings and screens behind the line of scrimmage, which were covered and not well-blocked.  They needed to call more slants, and more down-the-field attempts, but when they did, they saw two Picks, and a couple of missed Receivers.

The good news is that Hundley’s Draft Status took a hit and his chances of returning next year increased markedly.  The bad news is he has not been performing up to his potential lately.  He can’t blame bad snaps this week either, but he CAN blame a patchwork Offensive Line, and vanilla play-calling.  I imagine he will look more like himself next week against lowly Colorado.  I’ll be more impressed when he succeeds against a good team.  Nebraska lost to Minnesota today, falling out of the rankings, and Utah got manhandled by lowly u$c, so all the Bruin victories — and all Hundley’s stellar performances — have come against opponents with dubious credentials.

Staying with Oregon for 3 quarters should still be considered quite a feat — one that no one else has achieved this season.  However, UCLA Coach Jim Mora does not believe in moral victories.  He was pissed off after the game, and gave an angry, dissatisfied interview at the post-game presser.  That type of reaction bodes well for UCLA in the long run — Playing with the #2 team in the Country for 3 quarters is NOT good enough, and the Program will continue to strive for much, much more.


3 responses to “QUACK TEASER”

  1. Rick Avatar

    Thought the defensive tenacity was VERY promising; this game–just like the last one–was clearly lost on the other side of the ball:
    -Malcolm Jones should be getting the ball 20-25 times a game;
    -The wide “bubble screens” are useless against a good team–a waste of a down;
    -Hundley was way too tentative, especially when he was running. If he starts running with a purpose again, it will also dull the pass rush, and ease the pressure on the freshmen linemen. With the exception of a couple of plays, he ran like a punk, not like a man whose aggressiveness and power determine the fate of his team, e.g. Vince Young, Cam Newton. (Both, of course, were BCS Champions, and young Hundley still can be too). Man up, Brett.

  2. JC Avatar

    Since I didn’t see the game (and the world revolves around me!), please give me your thoughts about the Oregon defense.

    [T-H’s Note: Sorry for the delayed response. They are good, but not outstanding, and they were not the reason why UCLA’s Offense did so poorly. UCLA was the reason UCLA’s Offense did so poorly. Bad playcalling, pass-blocking, and QB performance made the Oregon D look better than it was.]

  3. Kacey (Bruin86) Avatar
    Kacey (Bruin86)

    The Bruins played very well against both Oregon and Stanford. I watched the Stanford game in person and it was very close. The “miracle catch” made a big difference in the outcome.

    This season I have watched several Pac12 games in person: UCLA (1x), UW (2x), ASU (2x), and Stanford (4x) as well as most games on TV. In person is a different view and from my perspective it is very hard to win away games this year in the Pac12. Oregon is clearing the best in the Pac12 and if they beat Stanford they will likely host the Pac12 championship undefeated aiming for BCS.

    UCLA has a huge opportunity but big challenge. If UCLA can win out the next 5 games, they will face UoO in rematch for championship game. This would be awesome. First, they need to take care of CU for homecoming and not have a letdown. Second, they need to beat UoA on the road (this might be the biggest challenge), then a huge Friday night game hosting UW. UW might be the trap game so be sure to have a big home crowd turnout. Then, the ASU game should define 1st place in the South. Good news would be to finish up with a huge blowout at U$C! The momentum would be huge but the Bruins needs to get better each and every week. With all these freshman and strong coaches and hard-hitting passionate Bruins, I’m a believer! Imagine playing another Pac12 championship for the shot at the Rose Bowl!

    Go Bruins! Fight, fight, fight!!!!