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Spaulding Report: UCLA Wants to Improve "Embarrassing" Defense Against Arizona State

After an outstanding offensive performance and a pretty marginal defensive performance against Arizona, the Bruins look ahead to Arizona State.

If Jordan Payton and the Bruins offense maintain last Saturday's efficiency, the Bruins will be in very good shape.
If Jordan Payton and the Bruins offense maintain last Saturday's efficiency, the Bruins will be in very good shape.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins had meetings this morning to break down last Saturday's 52-30 win against Arizona, but it doesn't sound like the discussions were all that pleasant, particularly on the defensive side of things, and in the linebacker meetingsspecifically

Kenny Young continued the message Jim Mora delivered after the game and IE Angel stressed today: Not good enough.

We won, but I'm not happy at all.

The Bruins seemed surprised and unprepared for Arizona's backup quarterback Jarrad Randall and his electric running game on Saturday night, especially in defending the read-option. Young said they have to be prepared for any possibility in a game including personnel and scheme changes, and that they made too many mistakes in execution against the Wildcats, calling the 460 yards allowed "embarrassing". He specifically mentioned the defense missed 21 tackles (See? We miss you, Eric Kendricks!) and repeatedly pointed at himself and claimed responsibility for the yardage given up. He also said the defense, despite creating several turnovers on the night and winning the game, has to have the mindset that their play on Saturday as a group was not satisfactory.

I pay attention to the good, but I don't feed off the good. The're supposed to make good plays, you're supposed to stop them.

He finished with a very Wooden-esque comment that he doesn't care about the final score or margin of victory as much as he does about fixing mistakes and getting better.

Thanks to Ed Lewis with Bruin Sports Report for the video.

One topic that came up here on BN when discussing Tom Bradley before the season was how much experience he had or didn't have against the spread offense and read option that are more prevalent in the Pac-12 than back east where Bradley made his name at Penn State and West Virginia. As IE pointed out in his usual excellent Eye Test today, the linebackers repeatedly looked lost if not completely absent against the read option, leaving the AZ QB enormous swaths of peaceful grassy fields to run through. The Bruins defensive backfield looked like a women's shampoo commercial at times. This was especially painful to watch because the Wildcats had essentially no passing threat after Anu Solomon left the game, as Randall only completed 4 more passes on the night than I did from my living room. With no ability to pass, the Bruins should have been more effective against the run. That is a tactical issue that Bradley will have to get addressed this week. The Bruins will have to defend the pass against ASU's QB Mike Bercovici, who isn't the same running threat as Randall, but is very capable of moving the ball with his feet.

Paul Perkins didn't get the same wide open fields that the AZ QB saw, but Perkins' ability with the ball was not the secret. Perkins had a workmanlike 84 yds on 24 carries, but the ground game as a whole racked up 213 yards overall, including 96 yes on 9 carries from Soso Jamabo in a good looking outing. Following a cool 1,575 yard season rushing total last year, Perkins says there is still a noticeable difference in run blocking this year, specifically mentioning Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond as Bruin linemen who really developed this season. Perkins laughed when he was asked what it will take to get a horse collar tackle called this year and added that the Arizona defender also pulled his hair on that blatant non-call, but there's "no chance" he's cutting his hair.

The Bruins will see some familiar faces across the field on Saturday. Perkins will be reunited with his brother Bryce who is a freshman QB with the Arizona State. Despite that relationship, Perkins is not letting down his guard adjacent a desperate Sun Devil team.

I think ASU is a great program and great team and we still have to look at them with tremendous respect...Just go out there and play hard and physical, no plays off, no downs off, we really have to just attack this game.

Thanks to Ed Lewis with Bruin Sports Report for the video.

Jordan Payton also had a happier interview than Young as Payton and the passing game had a great night against Arizona. Payton said there wasn't any specific difference, noting that they just put last week's struggles behind them and went went out and executed. He said he and the receiving crew are getting more and more in sync with QB Josh Rosen and that familiarity along with running good routes and getting quick separation will be a key issue against a heavy blitzing team like ASU.

Payton will also be reunited with a brother of sorts. Former teammate and current friend WR Devin Lucien will return to the Rose Bowl this weekend, though he'll be in a different locker room and not wearing a different uniform. Payton says they've been friends since middle school and they've kept in touch since Lucien transferred and they've been friends since middle school.  Not that any of that will matter Saturday evening.

I'm not there for the friendships. I'm there for the win.

Thanks to Ed Lewis with Bruin Sports Report for the video.

Tahaan Goodman was the final Bruin to speak with the media today. He saw a lot more playing time last weekend as the Bruin defense rotated personnel to fill the magical shoes of Myles Jack, though Goodman somewhat surprisingly noted that Myles' absence really doesn't affect the secondary much, but clarified that by saying they still have to prepare and focus the same way as before. The media kept trying to sell the idea that ASU looks down after a 2-2 start and coming off a big loss to Southern Cal, but Goodman isn't buying the demise of the Sun Devils or the Bruins overlooking them, either.

We'll just work hard in practice and we get out there and we let our talk play out on the field.

Thanks to Ed Lewis with Bruin Sports Report for the video.

The Bruins will practice tomorrow morning and begin installing the game plan for this Saturday. The game on Saturday was picked up by Fox Sports so kickoff will be at 4:30 PT. It's going to be a beautiful day on the golf course in the Arroyo Seco,