Notes and quotes: UCLA holds off Arizona in big division win

First, the stories that appear in today’s edition of the Los Angeles Daily News:
– UCLA breaks its four-game losing streak in Tucson with a superlative two-way effort from freshman Myles Jack.
– Columnist Vinny Bonsignore, with a look at quarterback Brett Hundley’s performance.

More notes and quotes from the wild 31-26 win at Arizona Stadium, which kept the Bruins in control of their own postseason destiny:

– A lot has been and will be written about Jack, so for now, let’s stick with a roundup of comments from coaches and teammates.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had high praise too: “The guy is a great athlete, a great player. He’ll be a first-round pick as a linebacker. We tried to recruit him as a running back.”

– The Wildcats have a pretty good back of their own, though. All-American Ka’Deem Carey rumbled for 149 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Since being held to 54 yards at the Rose Bowl last year, he is averaging 177.9 per game with 21 touchdowns.

“That Ka’Deem Carey is something else,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said.

Added Jack: “He’s the truth. He’s the real deal. He’s everything they say he is. … I had to hit him and, I felt like I felt more of it than he did.”

Quarterback B.J. Denker was also very effective on the ground, and looks like the most improved player in the conference. He wasn’t very accurate on longer throws, but rolled out 82 yards on 16 carries.

– Carey did fumble on a goal-line leap in the third quarter, turning the ball over at the end of an 11-play, 78-yard drive — Arizona’s second-longest of the night. Had he scored a touchdown, the Wildcats would have cut UCLA’s lead to 24-17 and taken back the momentum.

Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt watched the play on his phone right after the game, and talked about it effusively with reporters.

Mora pointed out that Zumwalt is often the forgotten man, overshadowed in a very talented linebackers corps.

“He’s all over the field,” Mora said of the senior. “He’s like our Energizer bunny. He’s like the spark that keeps it going. He has fun. He’s dancing around out there on kickoff return. Last week, we were at the Rose Bowl, I look out, and he’s leading an eight-clap during the timeout.

“He just loves to play the game, and I think it’s infectious.”

– Junior Eric Kendricks also had a strong game, playing through various injuries to lead the team with 13 tackles while chipping in a pass breakup. He set the tone early for the defense, making four tackles on Arizona’s first drive.

– UCLA’s offensive package for Jack also used a pair of defenders as blockers in sort of a flipped wishbone formation dubbed “PAC”. On one variation, freshmen defensive linemen Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark would slide in. On the other, Zumwalt and defensive end Keenan Graham would be featured.

“Noel is kind of a mad scientist,” Mora said. “It might be five minutes before we take the practice field and he’s up on the board drawing something up.”

He noted that the package still hasn’t been officially added to UCLA’s playbooks yet.

– Mora took responsibility for the UCLA’s failed fake punt, which he said “probably screwed with our momentum.”

Punter Sean Covington had Jack wide open, but overthrew him on what should have been an easy first-down conversion. Regardless, several Bruins ran too far downfield; the Wildcats declined what would’ve been an illegal formation penalty.

“We saw something there,” Mora said. “We had it, but we just didn’t execute it very well.”

– As usual, Mora said his relatively calm exterior during the game masked some inner turmoil.

“I was about to vomit the whole game,” he said. “That didn’t sound so good. At one point in the game, I thought, is there an ulcer growing in there.

“That’s how it is for football coaches. You try not to let on to your players. … I’ll tell you what. It can eat you up.”

– Mora also had a message regarding Friday night’s game against Washington: “If you are a UCLA fan, and you’re seeing this or you’re reading this: Take the day off, buy something black, and get out to the Rose Bowl. Because it’s going to be an environment you won’t want to miss.

“The way our fans have been supporting us lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if that place is full to the brim.”

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  • LTEfan

    Great win. Only 5 penalties for 54 yards! The fake punt was a great play, but it was called at the wrong place and time (up 14-3, own 25 yard line, 4th and long). Mora should have saved it for a different situation. Myles Jack is just incredible, hard to believe how good he is already. Tough finishing stretch ahead, but the opportunity is there for this team. ASU is going to make UCLA earn it.

    • drakejr

      If that throw were any better Myles Jack would have had a receiving TD as well. There wasn’t much down field to stop him.

      • LTEfan

        True…and it was still the wrong time and place to call for the fake punt.

    • Oz

      I hate the people saying the fake punt was a bad call because it didn’t work, that’s just terrible logic. It was the right play at the right time, completely unexpected.

      • LTEfan

        I didn’t say that, read what I wrote again. It was the wrong call given the field position, the 4th down distance required to be made, and the 11 point lead. Not the time to take the risk, that is what made it a poor decision.

        • facescar

          Considering that it *would* have worked if the punter had made any sort of more accurate throw, it was the correct call.

          It just really sucked for it not to work.

  • jameskatt

    They did not practice the fake punt enough. That is why it failed. UCLA was trying to do what Oregon did to them. So it was the right place and time. But the execution was poor due to lack of practice.

    UCLA now has a credible running back in Myles Jack. He is a strong, hard to tackle runner – something UCLA has not had in years. We usually have had finesse runners and occasional hard drive ahead runners. But not physical running backs who combine both. He can easily make touchdowns at the goal-line, unlike the other running backs.

    The use of defensive players with offensive-experience is fantastic. Our offense is floundering since it is so inexperienced and has no running game. Now Myles and his defensive teammates can give the UCLA offense a real threat.

    • facescar

      We had some defensive blockers last year (like Marsh). This was a great twist on that.

    • LTEfan

      How many days were you at practice to watch the fake punt play?

  • EncinitasBruin

    Jack be extremely nimble.

    • facescar

      Jack be extremely quick.

  • ProbationU

    I keep seeing people repeating the ineligible receivers down the field call on the fake punt. Given that the pass was thrown to Jack behind the line of scrimmage, that was an error by the officials. If the pass had been completed and gone for a huge gain like it looked like it would, then it would have been a big mistake by the refs. PAC12 has the worst refs in the country.

    Late in the game on 3rd and long, Hundley’s helmet was pulled off his head by the facemask right in front of the referee and NO CALL! These guys are embarrassing.

  • Idaho

    I think the fake punt was a great call. Everyone executed except the punter. Had the throw been anywhere close it was a 50+ yard play. I think the throw bounced beyond the line of scrimmage which is why there were ineligible players downfield. I bet that if that play goes UCLA wins by 21 or more. U of A isn’t a bad team, they may win 8 games and if your not a Wildcat fan you want Carey to go pro.

    • maze949

      Unfortunately, the penalty would’ve rendered it moot. Call was ill-timed (imho) based on that field position.

  • Idaho

    Had Jack caught the ball there would not have been a penalty, he was still in the backfield. The ball went over the line of scrimmage and that is what drew the flag. (I think.) That being said, maze has a very good argument. The play failed, AU scored and got a bunch of momentum…but I still like the play call…

  • EncinitasBruin

    Jack named ES*PN’s Five Star Player of the Week. What a stroke of genius to implement the Wishbone Package going into these final three critical P12S games. How does a team defend against a freaky beast like Jumbo Jack AND shut down Hundley’s ability as a dual-threat QB? Also, Bruins moved up six spots in the BCS standings to #13. It’s a great time to be a Bruin…

  • 92104bruinfan

    Ding dong the Tucson witch is dead! Man, this was a long time coming. Despite some questionable penalties (to put it mildly), a botched fake punt, a lack of consistent running game beyond a certain freak linebacker moonlighting as a running back, and facing one of the country’s top running backs who will be playing on Sundays in the near future, the Bruins squeezed out a conference victory on the road which is not easy at a time when the Pac is stupid-competitive. For the well-deserved hype Jack received, a tip of the cap to Hundley who looks to be back to his old self and posted a solid-steady performance on the road. Hope this keeps going against the Huskies Friday night. Go Bruins!