Yes, I used a several year old movie reference in describing today's Defense. It fits. After a slow start to the game, Richard Brehaut and the UCLA offense showed signs of life - and the ability to break plays - that have not often been seen during this season. However, the second half offense was not enough to overcome early mistakes and a defensive performance that could not stop the Wildcats from marching down the field. While I noted in the Second Half thread that Arizona is using their second-string QB, that really has not shown to be much of step back for the Arizona offense. Following up his 2 TD, 299 total yard game against Washington last week, Matt Scott came into the Rose Bowl and threw for 318 yards and a TD, while running for another 77 yards. While Scott had a banner day, the Wildcat running game also stamped its mark on this game, racking up 264 yards on 52 rushes.
This afternoon's game stretched the concept of the 'bend, but don't break' defense that has all too often embodied this era's UCLA defense to the extreme. Come to think of it, I am not so sure that the 'don't break' aspect of that phrase really applies to this afternoon's game, despite the close margin of our defeat. Out of 8 possessions, Arizona scored 5 times in the first 3 Quarters, on drives of 80, 85, 44, 74, and 80 yards. Add in a 68 yard drive in the 2nd quarter that resulted in a Red Zone fumble, and it does not look like the defense was doing much other than bending (and missing tackles). The Bruin defense held Arizona to only two 3-and-outs over the course of the game, and allowed the Wildcats to advance past midfield in all but one possession through the early part of the 4th quarter. If not for the aforementioned fumble, and an Aaron Hester INT in the end zone early in the 4th quarter, this game would have been a compete laugher.
Despite allowing Arizona to run 88 plays for 582 Yards - 373 of those in the first half - the Bruin defense allowed 'only 29' points; thanks to a pair of Scott turnovers in the red zone, the Wildcats left another 6-10 points on the field. The typical conservative, vanilla playcalling by Bullough was present as normal, but accompanied by weak fundamental play that allowed the Wildcats to extend drives and chew up the clock. While this was not a game that most of the players would put on a resume, Jordan Zumwalt did take advantage of his extended playing time, including a 3rd down sack in the final 5 minutes that allowed the offense one last chance to extend the game.
Normally, having allowed 29 points in a game plus a double-digit deficit would be the kiss of death to the Bruins' chance of victory. While the offense could not quite pull off the comeback, there were signs of life this afternoon in a slight loosening of the conservative offensive playcalling that we have discussed earlier in the week, as well as in the progression of Richard Brehaut. After a 4-10, 1 int performance in the first half, Brehaut came back to throw for 228 yards on the afternoon, including TD passes of 68 yards to Randall Carroll, and 49 yards to Josh Smith.
While there has been much discussion (and speculation) over the past couple of months regarding who is the Bruins' best Quarterback, with the season-ending injury to Kevin Prince, there is no question that Richard Brehaut now has the job, and the playcalling appears to be adapting to his strengths (throwing) and weaknesses (running, pulling off the option look crucial to running in the Pistol) as compared to Prince. The Bruins ran and passed the ball equally, though the production of the running game suffered, with neither Derrick Coleman or Johnathan Franklin breaking 50 yards rushing.
If any of you have more extended thoughts on the game, or the season to date, please post them in the fanpost section. With this, here is your postgame thread.