HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 03: Tight-end Joseph Fauria #8 of UCLA was unstoppable against Houston. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
While UCLA5677 beat me to much of my post idea, I thought I would focus on the coaches and a slightly different "Good Bad and Ugly".
The offense had a couple bad breaks from being perfect. We had 11 drives. 5 ended in TDs. One ended in a missed FG that should have been made. One because of halftime. So really four empty drives. Of those four:
1. We were stopped because on a second and 2, our center hikes the ball spectacularly bad and we lose 15 yards.
2. We were stopped because of a fumble; we were driving.
3. Then we were stopped in part because a 3rd and 3 became a 3rd and 8 because of a false start.
4. The other time we were stopped, another false start, we began first and 15 and we failed on third and six.
If not for the fumble, the bad snap, and maybe the false starts we may not have been stopped.
We were gusty. Went for it on two fourth downs, made them both. Taking a step back the offense was good, even very good. There is reason for optimism here and it seems better than last year.
Now the bad and ugly parts after the jump.
It seems we were out coached on Defense. Houston took away our best weapon Dantone Jones, he had two tackles and was seemingly not a factor. They used quick passes and we seemed to be playing off. Especially early in the game when the wind was strongest this seemed strange. Our tackling was also awful. Do we practice talking or just hitting dummies?
Like Houston's D, it can be argued that we were similarly lucky in most of our stops. They were six for 11. One of our stops was the end of the game and should not count. Of our four other stops:
1. A sack by Marsh on first Down led to a 3 and out.
2. A fumble on an exchange issue, they were driving, we were lucky.
3. Houston gets a delay of game. After a five yard gain on first and 15, Keenum threw two passes that should have been complete that were dropped. We were lucky but at least the coverage guys were in the area. Reality, Houston stopped itself.
4. Houston plays a bizarre series with 2:29 left. They pass short and have two incompletions and a penalty. This series made no sense. The passes were ultra-safe but why pass at all and stop the clock? If they ran up the middle and failed I get it. That would run the clock with a 10 point lead. I could say we stopped them but again I think Houston stopped themselves when they had the game in the bag and played strangely.
Thus, it could be argued our Defense legitimately stopped Houston once, after a Marsh sack. There is a good reason for concern here. While Keenum played well (especially on their last TD drive), last year we were winning 21-3 when he got hurt. In other words, we were stopping him. While it is only one game, our D looked bad, more poorly coached then last year.
As freeasia pointed out, we left four points on the Board with a missed PAT and FG that was the difference in the score. This is a big worry considering the practice concerns about Kip Smith. This is a tougher issue than the D, which seems obvious that we were out coached. Smith was ranked number one at his position in high school by Rivals. (Other stories say number 3 but he hit a 67 yarder in HS and seemed like a good recruit.)
But you also have to wonder about the decision to use Embree as a Punt Returner. Embree seems very unlikely to do much damage on a punt return. On the flipside, Josh Smith looked one man away from breaking a Kick Return. Why use Embree? I understand he has the best hands, but especially when we needed to score quick, why not roll the dice on Smith?
It is only the first game and we won't likely know more until week 4, post the Beavers. The offense is looking better, the special teams are hard to figure out so far. But the bottom line is CRN is now 4-15 so far in his UCLA career on the road giving up an average of over 30 points a game. UCLA has scored 34 points in its last two road games, and lost both. This needs to change, starting against OSU on 9/24.