-Bumped. BN Eds.
I have seen UCLA lose far too many football games in my life.
Losses after big wins, losses in bowl games, losses to USC, losses in out of conference games that they had no business losing.
If you've been a UCLA fan solely for the Dan Guerrero era of leadership, you're probably far too comfortable with losing games like this. Excuses can be made, but they shouldn't be.
Losing to Oregon State at home is not acceptable. Oregon State is probably the fourth or fifth best team in the Pac-12, so it's not like losing to Rice or Colorado. Regardless of how good the Beavers might end up being, UCLA should win at home.
I'm fed up with how easy people defend losing. It's never okay. There are no moral victories in college football. Only wins and losses.
Sorry for being so brief on my intro this week, I've felt like crap all night and day and barely got any sleep. Probably getting sick. But this Eye Test needs to happen, so let's get to the grades.
1) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play?
Number-wise. Oregon State put up 501 yards of total offense and somehow only scored 27 points. The defense was on the field a ton early in the game because the offense couldn't get going.
Oregon State's strategy on offense was taking advantage of the Bruins playing man-to-man coverage and it was ridiculously effective throughout. UCLA brought a lot of pressure throughout the game and Sean Mannion got hit somewhere around 10 times. Three more sacks this week. Two by Anthony Barr and another by Dalton HIlliard, both of whom had good games against Oregon State. Six total tackles for loss: three by Barr, 1.5 for Hilliard, one by Jordan Zumalt and a half by Owa.
Those 501 yards are a little deceptive because one defensive player was responsible for about 200 of them. I'm not going to take the easy way out and rag on Sheldon Price here because I respect how hard the kid has worked over his career. But if he had been hurt for this game instead of the Nebraska game, UCLA wins this game by at least 14 points. I'll get into this more later in the Eye Test, but an adjustment could easily have been made to strengthen the secondary early in the game and I probably wouldn't have been mopey all Saturday after the game.
Defense forced two turnovers (Forced Fumble on a sack by Barr, recovered by Tevin McDonald and a great interception by Stan McKay) and also got a three and out on the first three drives of the 2nd half. The offense turned that into zero points.
This is going to seem generous, and I'm expecting ridicule on at least this grade but I give the D's performance a C (2.0) instead of a C- or D+. Not faulting an entire unit for one player's awful game and the offense's complete lack of support at the start of both halves.
2) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?
Not in the slightest, in my initial opinion. Worst offensive output of the season with 444 yards. Only 72 yards rushing for a team that was among the nation's leaders.
I would have like to have seen a bigger focus on getting Johnathan Franklin going in the second half. Granted, OSU's interior line was winning the battle in the trenches all game long; but a Heisman trophy contender only getting 13 touches all game long is an issue to me.
Brett Hundley played a pretty solid game. Again completed passes to 11 different receivers and had some pretty gutty runs on his gimpy ankle to keep drives going. 27-42 for 372 and 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 passing) and would have had an even better day if not for 4 or 5 bad drops by various receivers and one overthrow to Franklin that was a sure thing touchdown down the sideline.
Offensive line struggled without Jeff Baca, especially on the right side. Brett Downey had an awful first half at RG and got replaced by Alberto CId, who wasn't significantly better. The freshman tackles both looked like freshman for the first time, can't say I noticed anything good or bad from XSF or Brendel.
Can't say I was overwhelmed by the offense's play because they could easily have scored 35 points if they had executed. The lackadaisical beginning to the game was a big part of the defense's struggles in the first half, and a lot of points were left on the board by costly mistakes. Just because this answer wasn't doom and gloom doesn't mean this grade is going to be higher than the defense's grade because I give this a D+ (1.3)
3) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times?
Offensively, this wasn't an alarming issue. The players were in position to make plays many times. If not for drops by normally sure-handed receivers and the overthrown ball down the sideline to Franklin, UCLA wins this game handily. That's execution, not knowing what they should be doing.
Penalties by seniors (Fauria, Price, Hester, Bell, Damien Holmes). That's what bothers me. If it were younger guys, I would be less disappointed by the penalties. But those penalties are by the guys who are supposed to be leading the team.
Then the big plays by Oregon State have to be mentioned.
This is where I'm delving into the secondary situation. It makes no sense to me to continue having possibly the best cover corner on UCLA's roster playing safety, when the safety spot is the deepest group on the defense. Stan McKay, Dalton Hilliard and Randall Goforth are all capable of starting at almost any school in the Pac-12. I could care less if Sheldon Price is a UCLA legacy, or a four year starter, or if he's four inches taller than Andrew Abbott. If you are solely responsible for a 75 yard touchdown pass, a 42 yard touchdown pass and the guy who you've been covering most of the game has 9 catches for 150 yards, then you probably shouldn't be on the field the entire game.
I'm willing to reserve judgement on this game because Oregon State could end up being a top 15 type of team. But I can judge the coaching staff for not making that adjustment to the secondary.
Disappointing and that is why the grade suffers, C- (1.7)
4) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game?
There wasn't any quitting or anything like there was in games last season. But this was a pretty underwhelming effort, in my opinion. Came out flat on offense in both halves and I feel like the tide of the game turned on that. I do give the Bruins credit for scoring at the end of both halves. So this is lower than it has been for this grade every other week; but not as low as the rest of the grades. C+ (2.3)
5) Do our players execute?
This is going to be the lowest grade that I'll give out because it was the worst aspect of the entire game.
Joe Fauria had an atrocious game. A false start penalty that probably cost UCLA a touchdown on the goal-line. Dropped pass on third down on the second drive of the game.
Fauria eventually got replaced at Y by Darius Bell, who actually had a nice game; but he commits a holding penalty and a false start penalty.
Steven Manfro had a tough game, with two drops and a near fumble on the goal-line.
Sheldon Price. Enough said.
More missed tackles in this game than the other 3 games combined. Less swarming to the ball on defense.
Another missed field goal, though attempting the 42 yard FG on 4th and 3 from the 24 yard line while down 27-17 was a mildly perplexing call.
I'm not going to go into great detail on all of the issues this team had against Oregon State because you all watched and saw these issues.
It was bad. CRN and Dorrell era bad.
6) Do we have leaders on the field?
I will give a shout-out here to Shaquille Evans for having a monster receiving game with 6 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown.
Brett Hundley had a nice game again, he's delivered more than any of us could have asked him to through the first four games of his career.
Also Jeff Locke was still Jeff Locke; but I am getting a little tired of putting a punter in this list every week.
But this was indicative of the rest of the game against Oregon State. Grade suffers. C- (1.7)
Final Grade Card for Oregon State Beavers
Based on the discussion here is how it shapes up:
1) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play? [C: 2.0]
2) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard? [D+: 1.3]
3) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times? [C-: 1.7]
4) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game? [C+: 2.3]
5) Do our players execute? [D-: 0.7]
6) Do we have leaders on the field? [C-: 1.7]
Oregon State GPA: 1.62
For perspective, the overall GPA at the end of the regular season was 1.61 last year. That brings back bad memories all by itself.
Next week at Colorado has to be a statement type game. If that game isn't over by halftime, it'll be a disappointing game. I could be happy with being 4-1 through the first five games if the Colorado game is a blowout.