*I knowUCLA’s issues run a lot deeper than a 48-12 loss at a 1-5 team
Forget the ugliness that happened when the clock was running on Thursday night at Arizona, and instead focus on the brawl that occurred at the end of the first half. Yes, Rick Neuheisel is right, without the streaker, there probably is no brawl, and UCLA probably doesn’t have six player suspended for at least a half-game. But there was.
Six guys getting in a petty little shoving match at midfield is one thing. Players pouring out onto the field like a skunk roamed the sidelines is another, and it is a reflection of the complete lack of discipline that UCLA is encountering. As I said in the Two Fat Guys video, false starts are one thing. Dropped passes are one thing. Missed assignments or fumbles or attrocious tackling. Those are all field-of-play issues, and while they too show a lack of discipline, nothing shows utter chaos than a bench-clearing brawl.
All of it boils down to the fact that there seems to be little repercussions aside from a few yelling coaches. Is that enough to shake some sense into a kid? Not to me. Where are the up-downs until a guy pukes? Where are the 50 laps around Spaulding Field. Where it the accountability?
I know this isn’t high school football, where you make a mistake and you’re punished for it. But this isn’t the NFL either, and there has to be SOME kind of punishment for mistakes, much less fighting. I doubt we’ll see any.
* I know Sheldon Price wasn’t ready to play on Thursday
After one series, it was evident that Price’s sprained knee wasn’t up to snuff, and Nick Foles sniffed it out pretty quickly. Foles went at the UCLA junior cornerback early, including on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Juron Criner in which Criner simply juked Price to the turf.
That Andrew Abbott played so well in his time, including his interception, only exacerbates the use of Price to such an extent. We saw Neuheisel shy away from using Courtney Viney despite his advanced coverage skills, perptuating the notion that he favors big, tall players over guys who can get the job done. Price couldn’t against Arizona, and it proved costly.
I think it’s surprising UCLA switched to the 3-4
Oh, they didn’t? It must just seem that way, given the utter lack of pressure from the UCLA front four. I made the questionable decision to rewatch most of the game on Friday, and before my eyes filled up with blood, I saw UCLA defensive linemen get pushed off the line of scrimmage like they weighed a collective 12 pounds. They weren’t just pushed off the line, they were absolutely smashed. Smashed.
It’s not as if it’s one player, either. It’s all of them. The pad level is absolutely brutal, and that is something UCLA struggled mightily with last season. The thought was the short, compact Inoke Brecketfield would be able to help with some of the leverage issues. He has not.
I know UCLA isn’t getting the production it expected out of the safeties
The loss of Rahim Moore to the NFL was thought to be softened by the return of Tony Dye and the emergence of Dietrich Riley. Only Dye has been sidelined much of the year, hobbled the rest of it, and is once more listed as out for Cal. And Riley, meanwhile, hasn’t lived up to the potential he flashed last season. Riley, Dalton Hilliard and Tevin McDonald struggled greatly against the Wildcats, and they need to grow up fast if UCLA is to turn it around. On one big Arizona play – ignited by a Grand Canyon-sized hole in the UCLA front four – Keola Antolin cut right and comically juked Riley and McDonald before running over Hilliard for a huge gain. Ouch.
* I think the wide receiver suspensions could be a blessing in disguise
Whatever it takes to get Devin Lucien on the field I consider a good thing. Granted, I don’t think Lucien is a refined blocker, and he is an emotional kid and perhaps not ready for primetime…but UCLA’s other receivers are? The Bruins best wideout drops passes left and right and has the fortitude of the tin man. One senior wideout couldn’t break away from a sloth and the other runs imprecise routes – on the Kevin Prince “overthrow” on the first drive, Josh Smith just stopped running – and the junior speedster is inconsistent.
I wasn’t the only one championing Lucien for a long time, and the other UCLA beat writers have often grumbled about his redshirting.
Now is the time to correct it. I don’t care if it’s only for five games.
Brett Hundley on the other hand…that’s a redshirt you save.