This is a real yawner. The Bruins are dominating FIU, and this is a defensive performance they’ve needed. Seven of FIU’s 13 points have come at the free-throw line and UCLA has held them to 3 of 19 first half field goals. Jrue Holiday had 15 first-half points. He made all six of his shots, including an open 3-pointer from the left wing at the first-half buzzer.
The theme after the game was how the defense will not point fingers at the offense for what has taken place this season.
“We’re going to stick by our offense no matter what,” Bruins cornerback Michael Norris said. “We’re not the type of team that is going to be divided when one has a good day and the other doesn’t. We’re sticking together. We hang out with each other. We talk about stuff. We’re friends. There’s no way we’re going to leave them out to dry and talk about us doing well and them doing bad. It’s not like that.”
UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter said after Arizona State’s fourth defensive touchdown, which came with nine minutes left, he gathered the defense and told them the Bruins had a chance to give up the fewest yards since the Bruins allowed 42 to Arkansas in the 1989 Cotton Bowl.
“After the last Arizona State score, I just got the whole defense up and told them, win, lose or draw …I thought we could break this record,” UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter said. “I think we achieved our goal. Win, lose or draw, I think we achieved our goal. Win, lose or draw, the defense played hard.”
Indeed, UCLA did it, allowing 122 to the Sun Devils.
Here is what UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said about each of the the turnovers, beginning the crazy play in which everyone stopped on the field after a fumble before Arizona State picked it up and jogged into the end zone.
“The first one, our players felt like they heard a whistle, which is why they stopped,” Neuheisel said. “(Running back) Derrick Coleman even had the ball in his hands for a brief time and then just laid it on the ground because all the players on the field were stopped.”
As for QB Kevin Craft’s three interceptions?
“The (first pick) was an ill-advised throw into coverage that got tipped and taken back for a touchdown,” Neuheisel said. “The (second) one was just an unfortunate slight underthrow on a corner route that I thought we had a chance to hit and then hopefully get the two-point conversion and tie the game. But it was slightly underthrown the guy returned it for a back-breaking touchdowns.”
UCLA’s offensive players were asked what they say to the defense after the season they’ve had, culminating with the disastrous Arizona State loss.
“There’s really nothing you can say to the defense,” receiver Terrence Austin said. “You just have to keep telling the defense that we’re going to try and hold out part and for them to keep doing what they’re doing. We’ve got to keep telling the offense to keep doing what they’re doing and not to get down because of what we’re doing on the other side.”
ESPN Classic is running a week of UCLA vs. USC football games. Here is the lineup, courtesy of UCLA and ESPN:
UCLA’s loss was stunning on many levels, but Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson may have summed up the Bruins’ offense the best in talking about the Sun Devils’ four defensive touchdowns.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my many years of coaching,” Erickson said. “I’ve never seen four defensive touchdowns scored on a defense and such total control of the game. It’s unbelievable.”
It was not as if Erickson was shocked his defense held UCLA in check, though.
“Obviously, UCLA hasn’t moved the ball up and down the field on anybody,” he said. “But to do that, it was a special night.”
Here are some game notes and stats, courtesy of Arizona State:
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said the Bruins’ defense played “valiantly” after it allowed 122 total yards in the loss to Arizona State.
“They kept Arizona State’s offense in check, and really were terrific,” Neuheisel said.”I don’t know if I’ve been around a game where the four touchdowns scored by the opponent were all off turnovers.”