UCLA’s Postseason Hopes Fly Away

TEMPE – UCLA knew that winning its final two games over Arizona State and USC to become bowl eligible would be a tall order.

Stopping Brock Osweiler proved to be taller.

The Sun Devils’ 6-foot-8 backup quarterback torched the Bruins for 380 yards and four touchdowns and added a scoring run as ASU came back from an early 17-point deficit to end UCLA’s postseason hopes with a 55-34 win at Sun Devil Stadium.
Relieving starter Steven Threet on ASU’s third drive after Threet went down with a head injury, Osweiler completed 27-of-36 passes against a Bruin defense that offered zero pressure.

“It’s lovely,” said ASU wide receiver Mike Willie, whose lone catch, a 32-yard touchdown reception, cut the UCLA lead to 17-14. “He can see everything. If he can see everything, I can see everything, and we’re on the same page. Man, it’s lovely.”

The Bruins were even prettier early against the stunned Sun Devils.

UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut, who would set school records with 56 pass attempts and 33 completions, scored on a 12-yard touchdown run on the Bruins first drive.

After a punt on the second drive and a 40-yard Kai Forbath field goal on the third, UCLA recovered a fumble by ASU’s Deantre Lewis at the 46-yard line, and Brehaut hit a streaking Randall Carroll for a long touchdown.

Then the tide turned.

Maybe it was a tsunami.

The Sun Devils reeled off 21 straight points on three Osweiler touchdowns – for five yards to Aaron Pflugrad, 32 yards to Willie and seven yards to Gerell Robinson – to shift the momentum drastically.”

“We have to play a better leadership role to keep this team focused when we do get up 17-0,” said UCLA junior safety Tony Dye, who led the team with seven tackles and two tackles for loss. “We can’t become complacent. I’m putting it on us – me personally – I have to step up and be a better leader on this team. We have to close these games.”
Being able to score from a foot out might help.

After Arizona State’s Thomas Weber hit a 21-yard field goal on the team’s first drive of the third quarter, UCLA marched down the field to the Sun Devils’ 25-yard line.
On a Brehaut one-yard run, two personal foul penalties on Arizona State gave UCLA a 1st-and-goal from the Sun Devils’ six-yard line. Consecutive Malcolm Jones runs totaled two yards, and a Brehaut-to-Nelson Rosario pass completion was stopped just short of the goal line.

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel decided to go for it, and rather than go with a quarterback sneak under center, offensive coordinator Norm Chow called for a zone-read run up the middle. Neuheisel told running back Johnathan Franklin to jump over the line and into the end zone.

Franklin instead ran directly into the middle of the line, Arizona State’s stout interior defense plugged the hole, and UCLA came away with nothing.

Three plays later, after starting the drive at their own 1-yard line, Sun Devil running back Cameron Marshall broke off a 71-yard touchdown run, effectively ending the Bruins’ chances.

“Richard is not a good quarterback-sneak guy,” Chow said. “Everybody is expecting a QB sneak. We thought we’d try to motion some, and cause a little confusion. It didn’t work.”
Arizona State’s offense sure did, though.

In piling up 595 yards, a season-high allowed for the Bruins, the Sun Devils had 342 in the second half, and whenever UCLA looked like it could come up with a crucial stop, ASU plowed through.

“They see the Cover-4 every day at practice, they run the same exact defense as us, and it seemed like they knew what we were in,” cornerback Aaron Hester said. “They were hitting all the vulnerable spots in our offense. We made some adjustments, but they’d come down and do it still. Fifty-five points? Man, that’s unacceptable.”

Once again, the Bruins searched for answers after the game.

A 17-0 lead disappeared into the thin Tempe air, and so did UCLA’s shot at the postseason, ensuring the Bruins a bowl-less December for the second time in three years.

“I don’t know if they’re not gamers,” defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said. “As coaches, we have to figure out if we have too much installed, too much in there, is there confusion? During the week, they do a phenomenal job.

“It’s frustrating to the players and coaches by now; this is when we should be playing our best ball.”

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Post-game Notebook

If Richard Brehaut needs a shoulder sling, it’s understandable.
The UCLA sophomore quarterback completed 33-of-56 passes – both UCLA records – for 321 yards and the three touchdowns in the Bruins’ 55-34 loss at Arizona State on Friday afternoon.
Against a Sun Devil defense ranked 18th nationally against the run but 88th against the pass, the Bruins went to the throwing game early, but especially late, as ASU erased a 17-0 lead with a 55-10 run.
“Our passing game has been something we struggled with all year,” Brehaut said. “Fortunately, we were able to get that going. Unfortunately, we were able to get it going because we were down. We had to pass.”
Facing tremendous pressure from an Arizona State defense that wasn’t about to sit idly by, Brehaut was productive on the run and was only sacked once. His second touchdown, a 21-yard toss to junior Nelson Rosario, came on a broken play, as Brehaut threw a jump ball off his back foot to the 6-foot-5 receiver.
“We did a great job, the receivers and I, of when stuff broke down, finding open windows,” Brehaut said. “We found spots we could put a ball in, and that’s something we can build on.”
Early on, UCLA seemed to dictate the pace of the game, controlling the Sun Devils at the line of scrimmage by mixing up the pass and the run. The Bruins came out throwing on the first play, a Brehaut-to-Nelson Rosario eight-yard completion, and were able to throw ASU off.
Then once the Sun Devils took control on offense and the momentum shifted, UCLA’s running game all-but disappeared.
“That’s something we did real well in the first quarter, coming out and getting that 17-0 lead; we were doing what we wanted out there,” Brehaut said. “Unfortunately we got away from that, and we started to struggle with the run game. We put ourselves in second- and third-and-longs, and that’s when they sit back and wait on it. For us, it’s about establishing ourselves.

Getting Personal
Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict is known for his penchant for hysterics. He didn’t disappoint.
On a third-down draw run by Johnathan Franklin, right guard Eddie Williams drove Burfict 20 yards to the left sideline, maintaining the block the entire time, before throwing him out of bounds.
Burfict’s teammate Junior Onyeali rushed to his defense, incurring a personal foul penalty, which then brought Burfict’s wrath, and Burfict was flagged as well.
Didn’t matter.
UCLA wasted a first-and-goal at the ASU 6-yard line, unable to convert a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, Bruin safety Tony Dye got a personal foul call on a Cameron Marshall first-down, 10-yard run, which turned into a 25-yard Sun Devil gain. Two plays later, Marshall broke off a 71-yard touchdown run.

News and Notes
UCLA senior kicker Kai Forbath tied John Lee’s team record of 85 career field goals with a second-quarter 37-yard conversion. … Sophomore running back Johnathan Franklin became UCLA’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Chris Markey in 2006, finishing with 73 yards against the Sun Devils. … UCLA junior receiver Taylor Embree’s nine catches and 105 yards were both career highs, as was Nelson Rosario’s nine grabs.

Bumps and Bruises
Freshman defensive tackle Cassius Marsh and sophomore cornerback Andrew Abbott both exited the game with head injuries.

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ASU 48, UCLA 27

Another Arizona State drive, more points.
ASU kicker Thomas Weber banged a 37-yard field goal to cap off a drive that started at the 50-yard line.

Drive Time: 6 plays, 31 yards, 1:58

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ASU 45, UCLA 27

Brock Osweiler hit Aaron Pflugrad for a 15-yard touchdown pass to pretty much ice the game for the Sun Devils. It was Osweiler’s fourth touchdown of the game, and he’s now completed 22-of-30 passes for 336 yards.

Drive Time: 6 plays, 27 yards, 1:32

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ASU 31, UCLA 27

UCLA put together a nice drive with Richard Brehaut getting a ton of action, hitting 6-of-9 passes, including a 21-yard touchdown pas off his back foot to Nelson Rosario to make it a four-point game.

Drive Time: 12 plays, 71 yards, 4:53

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ASU 31, UCLA 20

UCLA failed to capitalize on a 1st-and-goal from the six yard line after two ASU personal foul penalties on one play, and the Sun Devils then turned it around, with Cameron Marshall breaking off a 71-yard touchdown run to put ASU up 11.

Drive Time: 3 plays, 99 yards, 45 seconds

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ASU 24, UCLA 20

A 78-yard completion from Brock Osweiler to T.J. Simpson – the team’s longest play of the year – set up the Sun Devils near the UCLA goal line, but the Bruins held strong, holding ASU to only a field goal.

Drive Time: 5 plays, 86 yards, 2:01

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ASU 21, UCLA 20

UCLA got another chance at a field goal after Kai Forbath’s 52-yard attempt went awry, and Forbath hit a 37-yard kick to bring the Bruins within one.
Forbath ties John Lee’s UCLA record with his 85th field goal, two away from NCAA record.

Drive Time: 7 plays, 56 yards, 1:03 seconds.

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ASU 21, UCLA 17

Brock Osweiler found a rhythm on that drive, and Arizona State continues to roll, now up 21-17 with 21 unanswered points.
Osweiler completed 8-of-9 passes on the drive and connected with Gerell Robinson on a seven-yard touchdown.

Drive Time: 11 plays, 63 yards, 3:24

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