About last night: A review of UCLA’s 27-23 win over Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez (12) scrambles as he is tackled by UCLA Bruins linebacker Krys Barnes (14) in the first half of a NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

It was far from pretty, but Saturday’s 27-23 win was exactly what UCLA needed going into its bye week.

The Bruins (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) used 15-play, 79-yard drive that lasted more than six minutes in the fourth quarter to salt away a crucial conference victory and avoid a three-game losing streak.

Links to wrap up the game:

A more in-depth review of the game:


  • Red zone defense: Despite piling up 434 yards, Colorado scored only one touchdown in its five red-zone trips. The Bruins forced three field goals and even got away unscathed on one drive when Kenny Young snuffed out Colorado’s fake field goal attempt. UCLA also got lucky on one drive in the third quarter as a Steven Montez rushing touchdown was wiped off the board due to offensive holding and a Colorado receiver dropped a would-be touchdown. Being able to hold firm in the red zone won the game for the defense.
  • Kenny Young: Young had a pretty good game against Stanford and was even better against Colorado. He led the team in tackles with 12, nine of which were solo stops. He added a tackle for loss and was on the spot to stop the fake field goal when the kicker dropped the pass. He again played the majority of the game at middle linebacker and was “back to his old self,” according to defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.
  • Pass coverage leading to a good pass rush*: UCLA was able to make Montez uncomfortable in the pocket with only three or four pass rushers because the back end of the defense held up well, which made Montez hold on to the ball. Montez completed only 47.2 percent of his passes (17 for 36). However, despite getting some pressure on the Colorado quarterback, the Bruins weren’t credited with a single sack. Keisean Lucier-South dropped Montez for an 8-yard loss, but it was credited as a “team” rush due to a low snap.


  • Penalties: This part of the Jim Mora is alive and well. As has typically been the case with the Bruins under Mora, they’re one of the most penalized teams in the Pac-12. After five games, UCLA ranks 10th in the conference in penalties at 91.0 penalty yards per game with nine flags for 85 yards Saturday. Besides the team’s fourth targeting penalty in as many games, the Bruins also picked up repeated defensive holding calls, a really dumb substitution infraction out of a timeout and a late-hit that cost the offense 15 yards.
    • Mora and Bradley both agreed with the targeting call on Darnay Holmes in the first quarter. It looked like Phillip Lindsay was a defenseless player at the time as he was still in the air after catching a pass. Holmes lowered his head into Lindsay’s neck area, so that would constitute targeting on several levels.
      • The penalty gave the Buffaloes a free first down as it negated a third-down stop. Colorado scored its first touchdown on the very next play, a 21-yard touchdown pass from Montez to Lindsay.
    • Denzel Fisher, Holmes’ replacement, drew three defensive holding penalties.
    • UCLA got caught with 12 men on the field after a timeout. Bradley said it may have been due to a communication mishap. The Bruins have a “big nickel” package and a “big corner” package and the play was not communicated well enough from the booth. Bradley said the team would have to evaluate its naming system to make it more clear.
    • Lasley laid a late hit on Afolabi Laguda on a 30-yard reception by Austin Roberts that backed the Bruins up 15 yards. It looked like Roberts was already out of bounds when Lasley came crashing on to Laguda, but Lasley said he didn’t hear the whistle. He added that he wanted to apologize to Laguda, who missed part of the game after the hit.
  • *Missed tackles: The reason why the Bruins weren’t able to get any sacks was because they missed tackles. On one play, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Josh Woods both got their hands on Montez on separate tackles and the Colorado quarterback got away from both of them. UCLA was able to disrupt Montez, but wasn’t able to keep him in the pocket and bring him down. He typically does his best work when on the move. The UCLA defense was overall better with tackling compared to the past two weeks, but still left some major opportunities on the field.
  • Run efficiency: UCLA ran the ball when it needed to, like on that final, 15-play, six-minute drive, but wasn’t particularly efficient. The Bruins had 95 rushing yards on 35 carries for 2.7 yards per carry, well below their goal of 4 yards per attempt. On first down, they averaged only 2.8 yards per carry, which means the Bruins were often facing second-and-long, which is not an ideal situation.
    • Soso Jamabo had a season-high 21 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown.
    • Despite the slow-moving running game, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch stuck with the run and the offense ended up with 35 rushes to 45 pass attempts.


“You can take a sigh of relief but you can’t act like it’s all fixed. There’s a lot of work to do.”

~ Jim Mora


  • 146 receiving yards on seven catches for Lasley, his second straight 100-yard night and his third this season.
  • 4 straight 350-yard passing games for Josh Rosen, extending his school record. He was 28-for-45 passing for 372 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
  • 4 “explosive” rushing plays allowed by UCLA (rushes for 15, 25 and 37 yards by Montez and a 14-yard run by Lindsay). The Bruins gave up nine such plays last week against Stanford.
  • 25 percent third-down conversion rate for Colorado (4 for 16).
    • 6.3 yards gained by the Buffaloes on first down


  • Jaelan Phillips missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.
  • Najee Toran injured his knee in the third quarter. He left the game and brought Poasi Moala off the bench. Moala played right tackle, which moved Andre James to right guard and Michael Alves to left guard to fill in for Toran.
  • Nate Meadors was seen on the sideline riding the bike and limping around late in the game. Unsure what injury he suffered and when it came.
  • Caleb Wilson suffered what looked like a lower body injury in the fourth quarter after catching a 5-yard pass on second-and-10. He played one more down, hobbling while running a short route, but was then removed from the game and did not return.
  • I did not see Lokeni Toailoa on the field at all.