The Bruins came out on defense without Deon Hollins who is dealing with a knee injury and Cal took advantage of the early lack of pass rush. The Bruins did show an interesting look, going with no down linemen on several plays, presumably in an effort to disguise where the rush was coming from. Cal QB Jared Goff didn't seem bothered as he converted 3 third downs before the Bruins D stood up in the red zone to force Cal to a FG.
UCLA turned to Paul Perkins on their opening possession and he ate up 45 yds on a steady drive until an offensive PI penalty on Thomas Duarte backed the Bruins out of the red zone and Ka'imi Fairbairn connected on a perfect 44 yd FG to tie the game at 3.
After a good defensive series stopped Cal, the Bruins chipped away down the field with Rosen connecting on 6 of 10 passes to Jordan Payton, Darren Andrews, Stephen Johnson, and Duarte who capped the drive with a 7 yard TD.
The defense got tough again when Aaron Wallace got a 3rd down sack to force another punt near the end of the 1st quarter. That led to another great offensive series with short passes and a couple runs by Soso Jamabo picking up yards on every play. Rosen hit Payton on a great back shoulder throw on the sideline at the 5 allowing an easy trot into the end zone to put the Bruins up 17-3.
The defense continued to play great with another 3 and out, but the Bruins subsequent drive looked to be in jeopardy when a holding call and a false start made it 3rd and 14. A smart screen for 13 yards and a 4th and one conversion by Paul Perkins for 12 yards from midfield kept the drive alive. That's how football teams win games. Rosen hit Duarte on a beautiful 19 yard out route to get in the red zone. But then the horrific injury bug showed up again when Paul Perkins suffered a knee injury on the next play that even got Jim Mora out on the field to check on him. Perkins walked off but the drive stalled at the 6 leading to a 24 yd FG to make it 20-3.
The three and outs kept rolling when Isaako Savaiinaea did his Myles Jack impression by breaking up a deep third down pass, and special teams made a big stop when Cal tried to fake the punt deep in its own end. The Bruins took over at the 29 and runs by Jamabo and Bolo Olurunfunmi and a tough catch over the middle by Duarte got the ball to the 5, but the Bruins couldn't punch it in from there. Fairbairn kicked his third FG of the half to go up 23-3.
Cal got a final TD before half when a defensive PI call on Jaleel Wadood on 3rd down extended a Cal drive and then Goff started making mad plays.
The Bruins got the ball back with 50 seconds and moved the ball just past midfield, then committed the obligatory false start on the last second the 55 yard FG attempt. No problem. Ka'imi Fairbairn set a school record by banging home an absolutely gorgeous 60 yard kick as the half expired. Bruins lead 26-10 at halftime.
It was a good half for the Bruins but it could have been a great one. Two UCLA drives stalled inside the 10 and ended with field goals instead of touchdowns, and Bruin penalties continue to pile up, none more damaging than the 3rd down PI that let Cal get their final TD before half. On the good side, the offensive game plan has looked really good and the players have executed it well, racking up 357 yards in the half. Similarly, the defense has been aggressive, though there have been a few missed tackles they need to clean up. Goff was sacked just once but he was rarely able to stand in the pocket and survey the field at leisure.
There is plenty of room for improvement for UCLA. Let's see what sort of halftime adjustments the Bruins coaching staff comes up with and what sort of energy the Bruins bring into the second half to keep both the offense and defense playing well.