We tried to lose, we really did. Somehow, we won.
The first half was the best first half we played the entire season, if you completely ignore the last two minutes. It started out ominously, with UCLA punting on their first possession, only to watch Oregon State march down field, take over seven minutes off the clock, but we manage to hold them to only a field goal.
We respond immediately, with Richard Brehaut hooking up with Josh Smith (he is allowed to play on offense!) and then Richard Brehaut dangerously throwing into double coverage but Taylor Embree wins the battle with his size and comes down with the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.
Oregon State looks like they'll respond quickly with a score of their own, converting on XX and long situations, but Sean Westgate bails out the defense by reading Sean Mannion's eyes and picking him off. We capitalize on the turnover with Richard Brehaut scooting into the end zone for the touchdown. The downside on that drive is Jonathan Franklin is injured with a bruised hip and doesn't return for the rest of the game - not a problem though, because Derrick Coleman is here to pick up right where Franklin left off. The most interesting play of that drive is a hand off to Josh Smith who flicks the ball down the field Michael Vick style but the catch could not be made - hello arm strength, Josh Smith!
The defense then picked it up, and played with intensity, forcing a three and out. Unfortunately, our offensive line couldn't do the same, picking up two holding penalties in the next drive. The O-Line is bailed out by Sean Mannion's little hands though, as the ball just flutters out of his hands and Keenan Graham recovers the fumble. We hand the ball off to Jordon James and he scampers in for the touchdown. THREE TOUCHDOWNS. All looked good, and the UCLA offense capitalized on the turnover again.
After more great UCLA defense, with Nate Chandler putting some nice pressure on Mannion, UCLA runs the WORST two minute drill ever, first with NOT calling a timeout to save some time, and then wasting the first minute on THREE plays. On third and one, we pick up ANOTHER holding penalty, backing us up to 3 and eleven, forcing us to punt. Jeff Locke, who was told to kick it out of bounds, instead kicks it to OSU and they return it for a touchdown right before the half. Momentum: OSU. Even worse: Jeff Locke, our only able bodied recruited kicker, was leveled on the kick return was slow getting up.
The second half starts with OSU kicking a field goal, thanks to Aaron Hester, who delivered a late hit and was flagged, keeping an OSU drive alive and kicking. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
The offense, after a pass to Josh Smith, goes into super conservative mode with a steady diet of Derrick Coleman and Malcolm Jones, which works for a while until OSU figures it out, and stops it. Jeff Locke's field goal attempt is blocked.
It's ok though, because Rick Neuheisel's conservatism was being one-upped by Mike Riley, who decided one 4th and 1, to punt. Mike Riley reverts back 10 something years, and thinks he's still coaching the San Diego Chargers!
Don't worry Mike, we'll just punt it right back to you. We're polite Californians like that. And we have Aaron Hester helping you out, trying to hit people, not tackle them. Oregon State allegedly scores, which review allegedly confirms, when he was out of bounds TWICE before even getting close to the goal line, but we're nice and let you right into the red zone anyways, so go ahead and take the touchdown. They go for two, but OSU returns the politeness with a false start and pushing the try back to the 7th, which is picked off by Alex Mascarenas in the end zone.
After both teams exchanged the ball by failing to convert on fourth down, UCLA gets the ball and hands the ball off to Jordon James. Nice kid. He should get to play more. Which means we won't see him again for a few games. We nearly blow this drive with two ill timed timeouts, with Joe Fauria angry as heck about the second one, so we know he will not catch another ball this season. Anthony Barr launches into the end zone, but we miss the extra point on a low kick by Jeff Locke. Kip Smith, feel better quickly.
Oregon State tries for one last shot at the end zone, but Sheldon Price comes up with the defensive play of the game, swatting the ball away, and after a couple of runs, we somehow win the game.
Sorry, Beavers. UCLA is now 1-0 in the Pac-12. Who woulda thunk it?
After every game, we will grade the team based on the Eye Test:
1) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play?
2) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?
3) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times?
4) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game?
5) Do our players execute?
6) Do we have leaders on the field?
1. We SHOULD have been rushing the hell out of a fricking freshman quarterback, but that didn't work out too well. Our blitzes are boring, and picked up EVERY single time. Aaron Hester had a few dumb plays, and we still nearly lost this game. However, in some big situations, the defense came up big (fourth down tries) and kept OSU from getting close enough to make me scream.
2. In today's game, we actually saw a few new wrinkles. Malcolm Jones picked up big chunks of yards at a time. Josh Smith THREW a pass that was very Michael Vick-ish, and was allowed to catch a few balls. We even saw Anthony Barr sneak into the stat sheet, which certainly caught me off guard. However, on the downside, we relied way too heavily on RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN (then turnover on downs...) and once OSU figured out that, shut us down for most of the second half - we only scored ONCE in the second half.
3. Aaron Hester did not know what he was doing when he made that hit, and Sheldon Price may have hurt himself when he was angry he didn't come up with a pick-6 late in the game. The offensive line had three stupid holding penalties, and our special teams allowed way too much penetration on the PAT miss and the FG miss. But, it didn't look totally horrible.
4. I think they actually did play the entire game. I didn't see much of a let up in effort by the players. The coaches on the other hand, tried to mail it in and go into the heart of conservative play calling with all the runs. There is a theory that you should run the play until they stop it. OSU did stop it, and we still didn't throw the ball. Brehaut hasn't thrown a pick all season, trust him to throw it.
5. With what they were given, yes our players executed well today. Don't celebrate. We played Oregon State, who lost to Sacramento State. Jeff Locke though is having problems with his kicking this week - all that NFL chatter must have gotten to him. His kickoffs were fine though.
6. Brehaut firmly established himself as the starting quarterback today. I really like Alex Mascarenas, and his effort, although I don't see a vocal leader on defense still. The offense I think looks fine, we just have some crap ass play calling.
Hey, we're tied for first place (for now) in the Pac-12 South! Rejoice! If you're not already drunk from all the drinking games during the game!