Phew. UCLA escapes the desert with a nail-biting 31-26 win against Arizona. The game was scary in the fourth quarter but it never had to be that uncomfortable.
The Bruins got off to a fast start in Tucson by going up by a score of 14-3. And thanks to a spectacular drive at the end of the first half (more on that below) we were feeling pretty good at half time being up 21-10. But then the Bruin offense went in a predictable, conservative shell, and due to some questionable game management decision, the game became lot closer than it needed to be late in the fourth quarter.
Let's start with the player of the game. What else is there to say about Myles Jack? Right? I mean HOLY ****ing ***. WT*. Really is there anything else to say here. While the spotlight has been on Jack's senior teammate Anthony Barr the entire season for being the best LB and perhaps the best defensive player in the nation, tonight freshman sensation Myles Jack made a national case for being perhaps the best athlete in the nation.
Jack who has been spectacular to date as a freshman LB, entered a whole another sphere of sublime awesomeness, as he turbo-charged a list-less UCLA offense, rushing for 120 yards in 6 carries including an electrifying 66 yard touchdown in fourth quarter, after Arizona grabbed momentum by closing the score within 24-19. I MEAN WOW. WOW
And oh BTW he had 8 solo tackles and broke up 2 passes. No biggie.
Jack also anchored perhaps UCLA best offensive drive in years when Bruins put together an absurd 16 play, 90 yard drive at the end of the first half, resulting in a TD run from Hundley. That crazy drive featured 7 defensive players. Myles Jack was simply amazing in that driving as he rushed for 54 yards in 5 carries. His defensive team-mates also got in the action as Jordan Zumwalt also had a key reception. The drives put the Bruins up 21-10 and had all of us feeling good heading into second half.
Now about that second half - except for flashes of Myles Jack and some good play from our defense here and there it was another mediocre night for Mazzone's offense. UCLA's offense often looked out of sync and predictable in it's usual run, run, pass mode. And for some inexplicable reason there was no sign of Malcolm Jones anywhere in UCLA's backfield.
Brett Hundley had a decent game. Just like Utah he started off hot in the first half. He connected on a beautiful bomb in his first throw to Shaq Evans for a TD. He was throwing balls over the middle, running on read option, and making throws on the run. But thanks to Mazzone's vanilla calling, the offense lost all of it's rhythm in the third quarter as it just scored 3 points. It was Jack's explosives that bailed us out in fourth and the defense was able to hold on for a big win.
Now, we can't let this recap go without mentioning a really questionable coaching decision on the part of UCLA. Early in the fourth quarter Bruins were up 24-13 and Arizona was putting together a drive. We had them stopped at 4th and 3 on about their own 41 yard line. Instead of letting them deal with a 4th down, we accepted a 10 yard holding penalty that gave them an extra down at 3rd and 13. In the very next play B.J. Denker threw up a duck, which we ended up intercepting, but thanks to a terrible SPTR call Arizona got a first down. Whoever decided to accept that penalty made a terrible decision. We are assuming in this case it was Mora, and if so that was an extremely questionable game decision that may have cost us the game. And it's not the first time Mora has made questionable game-management decisions that have cost the Bruins.
Now on the positive side I think we should give credit to the team for not committing any penalties in the first half. The Bruins did get few penalties against them in the second half but some of them including a PI call was complete BS. Overall, this was one of the best games of the year in terms of being disciplined and not making dumb mistakes.
Despite all the conservative play calling and decision making, the Bruins now have a chance to close strong this season with two games at home and then a must-win game on the other side of the town. We have the talent to get it done.
Anyway, we will leave you all with this tweet tonight:
So UCLA’s best linebacker was a running back and their best running back is a linebacker. Ok then.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 10, 2013
There will be so much more on this game in next couple of days. If you have extended thoughts/reflections make sure to blog them in fanpost. But for now though you can party away in this post game thread.