About last night: A review of UCLA’s 58-34 loss to Stanford

Stanford running back Bryce Love, right, runs past UCLA defensive lineman Chigozie Nnoruka (93) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UCLA nearly conquered its Stanford mountain in 2016, but the Bruins took several steps backwards in the 2017 attempt, losing 58-34 at Stanford Stadium on Saturday.

With a chance to go up by two touchdowns, Theo Howard dropped a pass in the end zone and the ensuing field goal was blocked. The Bruins were at the Stanford 3-yard line and came away with no points. Then Stanford scored 17 straight in the next 6:32 to finish the half. The Cardinal went on to score on eight of their final drives with seven touchdowns.

“It just steam rolled,” head coach Jim Mora said. “It’s an incredibly disappointing feeling for all of us. These young men work so hard, this staff works so hard, and we were ready, we came out and we were playing well and then it just went the wrong way.”

Links to wrap up UCLA’s conference opener:

A more in-depth review of the game:

GOODS

  • Kenny Young: Not only did the senior linebacker return from a one-game absence, but he tied for the team lead in tackles with 11 with one tackle for loss. When UCLA was in its base defense, Young played mostly middle linebacker, returning to the position that earned him second-team All-Pac-12 honors last year. He may not be physically suited for the position at the next level, but Young seems to be most effective at the mike for the Bruins as he is able to use his leadership skills to organize the defense. Josh Woods and Krys Barnes were the weak-side and strong-side linebackers, respectively, in the base defense. Woods had a season-high seven tackles (three solo) with a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry at the position he trained in during spring practice.
  • Jordan Lasley: Lasley had a career day while many of his other receivers were struggling. The redshirt junior had 11 catches for 158 yards and one touchdown. Darren Andrews and Caleb Wilson, two of the most sure-handed pass-catchers on the team, wrestled with a case of the drops, but Lasley, who struggled with the same problem earlier in the year, filled the role of go-to receiver for the time being. He fearlessly ran routes across the middle where Josh Rosen found him in stride for long gains. He battled for extra yardage on screen passes. One issue, however, is that he and Rosen miscommunicated on a long pass in the fourth quarter that resulted in an interception. Against Memphis, there was another interception that came in the same way.
  • Soso Jamabo: UCLA ended one streak Saturday night. Jamabo, playing in his first game since Sept. 3, turned in UCLA’s first 100-yard rushing game since 2015 with 100 yards on 12 carries. It had been 18 games since Paul Perkins rushed for 121 yards against Washington State. Jamabo had an impressive all-around game against Texas A&M, but was slowed by a back injury, he confirmed Saturday. Besides good running, Jamabo also proved a worthy pass protector again. He held up just long enough against a blitzing defensive back on second-and-8 so Rosen could unleash a quick pass to Wilson for 13 yards. The Bruins scored a touchdown on that drive (their first drive of the third quarter). Jamabo wilted a little bit in the fourth quarter in pass protection, though, allowing a quarterback hurry on first-and-10 from the Stanford 29. However, the Bruins still found the end zone on the drive two plays later.

BADS

  • Big plays (again): Last year, the weekly question was “Will UCLA be able to run the ball?” This year, it’s “Will UCLA be able to stop the big play?” UCLA got off to a good start against Stanford, allowing only one explosive play (defined as a pass of 20 or more yards or a run of 12 or more) in the first quarter. But then Bryce Love got loose late in the second quarter on Stanford’s game-tying seven-play, 80-yard drive, and the Bruins never regained their composure. The Cardinal had 11 explosive plays total, including a 69-yard touchdown run by Love that came one minute after UCLA had cut the lead to a manageable 10 points with 6:59 to go.
    • Big plays often happen due to missed tackles. When asked of how UCLA practices tackling during the week, Tom Bradley said the team often doesn’t in the interest of protecting the team. You don’t want to open your own players up to injuries by going live all the time in practice, but refining the basics of tackling will be imperative if this defense wants to improve.
  • Drops, drops, drops: The ghosts of drops past came back to haunt the Bruins. There was the critical drop from Howard that kept UCLA from grabbing a 20-6 lead in the second quarter. A pass that should have been caught by Wilson on second-and-8 ended up getting tipped in the air and picked off. Andrews almost caused another interception when a pass bounced off his hands in the second quarter. UCLA was lucky that two Stanford defenders dropped the ball.
  • Turnovers: The way explosive plays are a focus for the defense, turnovers can come to define this offense. The Bruins have been able to move the ball almost at will this season (except for the first half against Texas A&M) but can’t maximize their potential if they give the ball away. Rosen’s two interceptions weren’t entirely his fault Saturday (tipped pass by a receiver and a miscommunication), but the Bruins also lost two fumbles. Howard lost the ball in UCLA territory, allowing the Cardinal to score a field goal at the end of the first half. In the third, it looked like the Bruins had completed an impossible third-and-20 situation when Rosen found Christian Pabico for 21 yards, but Pabico lost the ball when fighting for extra yardage and Stanford recovered at the UCLA 42-yard line. Of the four turnovers, three occurred in UCLA territory, giving Stanford a short field against an already struggling defense.

GO FIGURE

  • 405 rushing yards allowed by UCLA
    • 263 rushing yards by Love, the second-most for a Stanford player
  • 36:40 time of possession for Stanford to UCLA’s 23:20
  • Minus-5 turnover margin for UCLA on the season, the second-worst mark in the Pac-12. (Oregon State is minus-6)
  • 132 penalty yards for UCLA on 12 fouls. Stanford has 86 yards on 12 penalties.

QUOTABLE

“I don’t worry about that. I’m worried about right now just helping our young guys recover from this, helping them get back on track, that’s my concern. My concern is not with myself. My concern is with those 120 young men that are looking for someone to teach them how to handle adversity. That’s what my concern is.”

~ Jim Mora on whether he worries about his job security

PERSONNEL NOTES

  • Jaelan Phillips (ankle) and Breland Brandt (concussion) did not make the trip.
  • Sunny Odogwu was not suited up for the game and watched in sweats from the sideline.
  • Boss Tagaloa didn’t start, but he did get his first significant playing time since suffering a minor injury against Texas A&M. He had two tackles and one tackle for loss.
  • Pickett’s targeting ejection will not cost him a half against Colorado because he served a one-half suspension in the second half against Stanford
Share this post:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page
  • Hardtail Bruin

    With regard to the “goods” I’d have to take exception with Kenny Young at MLB. I like Kenny a lot, and I know he had some good plays, but he also had some plays where it looked like he gave up or was not a factor when he should’ve been (getting blown out at the point of attack). I’m not saying I blame him the way things are going for the defense, but I’m worried the players are suffering under the current coaching regime and will give up entirely. Are they losing faith???

    • Young may still be recovering from the cheap shot that he took a couple games back.

      • Jvbruin

        I’m still trying to recover from taking the time to actually watch the game.

  • JustOwns

    Just got bounced. So here are sample facts:

    “UCLA’s defense just conceded 38 points in 30 minutes to a Stanford team rolling out their 3rd string QB.”……Author’s tweet.

    The UCLA defense allowed Stanford 405 total rushing yards with Brice Love chipping in 263 yds on 30 carries (8.77 avg.)

    Stanford scored on the last their last 8 possessions – 7 TD’s & a FG.

    #DG is the AD of the Year.

    • Paul

      you missed a few: multiple penalties that killed our drives or extended theirs, questionable play calling (not going for it from their 3 yard line, punting from the +38)…

  • Paul

    This was the kind of performance that would get a coach fired…from any school but UCLA. SMH.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Interestingly, people assume UCLA has a crappy running game. Not true. While our yards per game are 95th in FBS, this stat is deceptive–and not nearly as important as yards per carry. In that category, we are 45th in the nation at 4.8 ypa–which is better than SC at 4.7 ypa. What’s killing us are trademark Mora team traits: turnovers, penalties, and mental errors (like dropped TD passes).

    • jameskatt

      Since the end of the 20 Year UCLA Golden Era with Coach Terry Donahue in 1995, I have not seen a UCLA Football team without the traits of Turnovers, Penalties, and Mental Errors. I would also add Slow Starting and Laziness as traits that players quickly pick up. Poor tackling and dropped passes are but examples of this.

      We have gone through numerous coaches who have tried to deal with these endemic UCLA Football Player traits for decades since Donahue’s departure. But it is difficult since these traits are part of UCLA Football Culture fostered by the gorgeous school campus, playground neighborhood, beaches and women in and around UCLA that distract and lull the players into complacency.

      Mora has reached his ceiling as a head coach at UCLA. He has instilled a better attitude but hasn’t been able to completely rid UCLA of complacency.

      So perhaps now is the time we need a new coach to take us to the next level.

      • Hogsman

        Before Mora was hired, I had hoped UCLA would hire Gary Patterson (TCU’s coach). He’s not glamorous, but his teams have been excellent despite having to recruit against the Big 12 and some SEC teams.

        I also think Kyle Whittingham would be a terrific fit for UCLA – successful at getting the max from his players, smart at game planning, and good with the media.

        • Cali Man

          Tbh, before they hired Mora, I wanted them to hire Mark Mangino. He would get at the players faces if they were being selfish and egotistical, plus he took KU to their only BCS championship and 12 win season

  • j metaphor

    Bring me the head of our Defensive Coordinator.
    (not really his head, I’ll settle for his job, that would suffice).