A day after UCLA’s 29-21 loss to No. 15 Arizona at the Rose Bowl, head coach Rick Neuheisel was still lamenting the team’s poor tackling.
The Wildcats totaled 583 yards on Saturday, including 374 in the first half against a Bruin defense that had trouble taking players to the ground.
“You can’t just get an arm on them and let them spin out and then make a play,” Neuheisel said. “I give their quarterback (Matt) Scott a lot of credit. I mean, he spun out and made some plays down the field, some really pivotal plays.”
Scott had 390 total yards, including 319 yards passing and a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Juron Criner.
Scott was at his best on the move, even when the Bruins had him pinned down.
“The second touchdown drive after the score was 7-7, it’s third down and three and we’ve got a sack, Sean Westgate has got him sacked,” Neuheisel said. “It’s going to be a six, seven-yard loss and they’re going to punt or kick a long field goal. But he spins out and gets it all the way up to 1-yard, they go for it on fourth and 1 and they make it. That’s a huge play.”
The UCLA offensive line, much-maligned after consecutive losses to Cal and Oregon, performed admirably against Arizona.
After allowing just two sacks, it did not go unnoticed, particularly as the defense faced one of the top defenses in they country in the Wildcats.
”I thought the offensive line played pretty well,” Neuheisel said. “They were a little less aggressive because of the Pistol, so that played into it a little bit. The ends stayed pretty much on the line of scrimmage, but I thought our offensive line graded out pretty well.”
Bumps and Bruises
Neuheisel got the official word on sophomore wide receiver Jerry Johnson and sophomore f-back Jerry Johnson, and it isn’t good.
Both are out for the season after UCLA’s 29-21 loss to Arizona at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Thigpen suffering a broken clavicle, and Johnson breaking his ankle. Thigpen has already had surgery, and Johnson is waiting on a second opinion to determine if he needs surgery.
Junior middle linebacker Steve Sloan, who became starter because of the loss of sophomore Patrick Larimore (shoulder) last week, strained a hamstring and is questionable for next week’s matchup with Oregon State.
That leaves UCLA with only freshman Jordan Zumwalt in the middle, with scout-team linebackers Isaiah Bowens and Mike Schmitt backing him up.