About last night: A review of UCLA’s 48-17 loss to Utah

Utah running back Troy McCormick Jr. (4) celebrates after scoring against UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes (1) during the second half during an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The UCLA defense has had enough trouble stopping opposing offenses, but the Bruins suffered from friendly fire during Friday’s 48-17 loss to Utah.

UCLA defensive backs Jaleel Wadood and Darnay Holmes ran into each other on the first play of the third quarter against Utah, allowing Utah receiver Troy McCormick to come free on a simple wheel route for a 75-yard touchdown.

The Bruins (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) fell to the bottom of the Pac-12 South with the loss and have to win two out of their final three games to secure bowl eligibility.

Links to wrap up Friday’s game:

An in-depth review of Friday’s game:

GOODS

  • Devon Modster’s start: Modster was 7-for-7 in the first half with 101 yards and a touchdown to Darren Andrews. Not a bad way to get your first career start going. Jedd Fisch relied heavily on the run at start and dug into his playbook with double reverses and double passes, but allowed Modster to also show off his arm late in the first half. The redshirt freshman came up big with a beautiful 42-yard pass to Darren Andrews and then found the receiver again in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. Modster throws it best when he can push the ball downfield with a little air under it like he was able to late in the second quarter. However he (and the offense) cooled considerably in the third quarter and he completed only 1 of his 5 second-half passes before injuring his thumb. Josh Rosen‘s status is unknown for this week, as is Modster’s. But if Rosen is out and Modster has to start again, the backup has a decent performance to build on.
  • Theo Howard’s one-handed catch: It didn’t mean anything in the end, but it was a highlight for Howard. It might be a positive step for the sophomore who has struggled with confidence this season. The Bruins will need the best version of Howard they can get because they have to replace Andrews, who suffered a significant knee injury.

BADS

  • Defensive mindset: It seems that the Bruins are breaking down both mentally and physically. When asked of the defense’s demeanor on the sideline during the second half, Mora said “it got tough after that third quarter. It got real tough. They just, you know, we were trying to piece it together as we went.” I feel like that usually would have been a time when Mora said something more along the lines of he didn’t see any negativity or defeat in his players even though the score had gotten out of hand. He spoke about the defense’s “fragile” confidence a few weeks ago and it seems that that mentality is rearing its ugly head again. Similar to last week’s game against Washington, the defense started well. Utah was rushing for just 1.7 yards a carry through the first quarter. Then Utah started to impose its will in the second quarter, running the ball 14 times for 90 yards and scoring on a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. That was the first of five straight scoring drives for the Utes (four of which were touchdowns). Once one bad thing happens to the UCLA defense, it doesn’t seem like the young Bruins have the maturity or mental fortitude to persevere right now. That, to me, is the most concerning thing about the unit that is on track to be one of the worst in school history.
  • Third downs: UCLA used to be one of the best third-down offenses in the conference. Technically, it still is (third in the Pac-12 at 43.3 percent) but the Bruins are just 5 for 25 on third down in the past two games. UCLA was 1 for 9 on third down in the first three quarters against Utah. Jalen Starks got stopped on short on third-and-2 in the first quarter and dropped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-4 in the second quarter. Recall that a few weeks ago, Starks was almost automatic on third-and-short situations. He was coming back from an ankle injury that cost him two games, so maybe he was not at full healthy yet. Due to the lack of third-down conversions, UCLA ran just 48 plays to Utah’s 72.
    • While the offense struggles to sustain drives, the defense has struggled to end them. Washington and Utah were 12 for 25 on third downs combined. The Utes were 7 for 14. Long drives are a death sentence for an injury-riddled defense that’s struggling with confidence.
  • Third quarters: UCLA has been outscored in the third quarter 38-0 during the past two games (17-0 against UW and 21-0 against Utah). On Friday, the third quarter was especially costly because it was only a seven-point game at halftime. The defense then gave up that 75-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage on the first play of the second half and UCLA’s downward spiral took a sharp turn for the worse. Third quarters are often about coaching and halftime adjustments. UCLA likely feels limited by its lack of personnel with all the injuries, but the Bruins have to find a way to keep things manageable in that quarter.

GO FIGURE

  • 18 touchdowns on 44 red zone trips (48.6 percent) for Utah leading up to Friday’s game
    • 4 Utah touchdowns on 5 red zone trips Friday (80 percent)
  • 249 total yards for UCLA
    • 364 punting yards for Stefan Flintoft on eight punts
    • 19 yards for UCLA in the third quarter
      • 70 yards for UCLA in the second half
  • 63.7 percent of UCLA’s receiving yards are from Andrews, Caleb Wilson and Jordan Lasley. Andrews will likely miss the rest of the year with a knee injury, Wilson hasn’t played since Sept. 30 with a broken foot and Lasley’s status is still in question after he missed a third straight game due to disciplinary reasons.

QUOTABLE

“We just focus on the game, the upcoming game, focus on the team that we’re playing that Saturday. That’s the best we can do and hopefully if it’s in God will that we can come up bowl eligible.”

~Jacob Tuioti-Mariner on whether he thinks about UCLA’s bowl hopes

PERSONNEL NOTES

  • New injuries
    • DL Ainuu Taua (ACL, MCL, dislocated kneecap)
    • Andrews (ACL)
    • Modster (thumb) — unsure of status for future
    • LB Krys Barnes (recurrence of fluid in lungs)
  • Dressed for game, but did not play: DL Rick Wade (knee), TE Austin Roberts (ankle)
  • Holmes was ejected for targeting in the fourth quarter and will miss the first half against Arizona State on Nov. 11 at the Rose Bowl.
  • JustOwns

    JimmyBall’s UCLA FB program grade: D+ ’cause the program doesn’t forfeit games.

    • Coach Thom

      Coach Jim will never blame himself or his coaching staff. That would show weakness and ineptitude on his part that might lead to his early dismissal. He plays the ‘poor us’ card; blaming injuries, players forced to play out of position, poor pursuit angles, miscommunication among the players, bad luck, etc etc. I’m so disappointed in Coach Jim…maybe his divorce has sapped his strength and interest in winning. UCLA will find it hard to discover any competent coach willing to take on this terrible mess. We’ll be saddled with Coach Jim for the next two years, no doubt about it.

      • Richard

        not only will we not b able to find a good coach to replace cjm, we prob lose qb DTR, our future !!!!! if CJM and Fisch go.
        Bless his heart but IMO Modster doesn’t look good .

        • Coach Thom

          Great responses from Toby and Richard. I believe Devon has talent. He just needs the players around him and a decent coaching staff. Has Coach Jedd adjusted his schemes to the obvious inadequacies of the O-line? If I were coaching again on this level, that’s the first thing I would attempt. Keep things simple, utilize the mobility of my QB, and show the damn O-line how to pull and lead block! I would rather have quick, smaller O-linemen than ponderous big lugs. JMO.

      • Toby Soto

        I don’t think it will be hard to find a competent coach for UCLA, the talent is there to win and continue winning. The AD will make it looker harder than it is, but I personally have ideas for UCLA the next head coach. The first one would be Fisch. He’s never been a head coach but he’s shown that he can lead players and get a lot out of them as OC this year. If we hire him it’s the same offensive scheme (won’t have to learn a 3rd one in 3 years) and he hires someone who brings the same attention to detail that he brought to the offense. Scott Frost could be another option as he can recruit across the country and (in my opinion) a better OC than Chip Kelly and a more stable one. Pat Narduzzi might be tempted to UCLA, he’s another no nosense head coach who runs a pro style offense not sure if he’d mesh with la culture though. Matt Campell is another option as he has done a great job with Iowa State, and my last suggestion is Matt Aranda as he is one of the greatest defensive coaches in the country right now

    • Paul

      Bruin players own outcomes, Mora offers excuses (injuries) followed by platitudes (“we’ll rise up”). Screw him…I mean screw us.

  • Ed Garrett

    gee,,,thanx alot kboogiethehoodie,,,smdh!

    • j metaphor

      Ed,
      You crack you up. (but only you)
      I just don’t think things are working out for you here on Overtime’s blog (or Wolfie’s) but it’s been fun.
      Why don’t you try Delta House down the Row?

  • Paul

    Watching Arizona play Clown College last night was painful on so many levels. CC looked like a well-coached team…with a logical game plan: shadow Tate with an athletic safety to prevent big plays. Helton isn’t a great football coach (just ask the folks on the USC blog), but he absolutely runs circles around Mora. Look at Jim’s work product, 6 years in, with a roster full of former 4* recruits, with a future All-pro QB, with a $3.5M annual salary: a hapless team that’s “undisciplined and soft” (accurate assessment of a former Bruin player).

    Beyond unacceptable. Disgusting.

  • UCLA Dynasty

    We’re #11 in ESPN conference rankings only ahead of an Oregon St. team so bad their coach quit and left $12 million. Now described as a lost cause we can only hope Mora does the same as Anderson.

    • Paul

      That really is our only hope…because DG is too lazy and stupid to recognize what’s going on, let alone take action.

      • jameskatt

        Not really. UCLA’s hands are tired because to fire Mora means to pay $13 MILLION in public funds to Mora. Then UCLA will have to pay another $30 MILLION to get a new high quality head coach like Chip Kelly. After next year it would be easier to fire Mora, then hire Lane Kiffen for cheap. If he has matured, he would be a great coach for UCLA.

    • Jethro G Sabbath

      But Jim has a winning record vs Southern Cal. That alone should be enough for him to keep his job.

  • Bruinsfan99

    Too bad we can’t get Art Briles 🙁 Smh

    • Toby Soto

      That would never happen, UCLA holds it’s programs to a high standard and Briles is going to have a hard time getting a job after the scandal at Baylor, but Kendall Briles might be able to get the job

  • Bruinsfan99

    Seems there will at least be one more year of this mess…:-((((((((((

  • Bruinsfan99

    Easy to predict no bowl game this year or next year

  • Sandy Underpants

    I think god wants us to play in the New Orleans Bowl this year, I really can feel his light in this. I have a feeling there might be a really upset conference USA team as a result, cuz god thinks c-usa stinks. My faith is so strong, I’m booking my trip for December 16, right now!

  • j metaphor

    God’s plan, Kendrick ?
    God told you his plan?
    Nice!
    Hey, next time you talk to him, ask him if I should short my Amazon and buy Google.
    Let me know, dude.