No 2017 bowl eligible team has had the amount of distractions come their way before their bowl game as UCLA had. Their head coach was fired, assistant coaches were let go in the middle of preparation for their bowl game, severe wild fires impacted both practice schedules and the lives of the players and coaches, and lastly the team’s star player went through concussion protocol and eventually was unable to play in his last game as a Bruin (not official).
With all that being said, UCLA came out strong in the first half but could not finish the game as the UCLA defense reared its ugly but familiar head in the second half and the Bruins lost 35-17 to Kansas State Wildcats in the Cactus Bowl.
This game was a tale of two halves as UCLA went into the half up 17-7, and had the momentum of stopping Kansas State right before the half. Not to mention, UCLA was also receiving the ball to start the third quarter.
UCLA moved the ball on their first drive, but on a crucial third and eleven, Modster’s pass to Eldridge Massington was a little off and was dropped. This seemed to be the turning point in the game as Kansas State took their next possession and scored a TD and never looked back.
If that dropped pass was not the official turning point, then the Bolu Olorunfunmi fumble on the second play of the very next UCLA drive made the turn complete. Kansas State scored a touchdown on the fourth play of the next drive, and just like that UCLA was down 21-17.
This game then turned into a microcosm of the UCLA season. Poor tackling, penalties turnovers, not one semblance of a return game to help the offense and an overall pretty anemic UCLA defense were all on full display. The UCLA defense gave up 344 yards on the ground and 158 of those yards went to Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton. Only the latest QB that our defense turned into a preseason Heisman Candidate for 2018.
The Jim Mora UCLA Bruins are now officially done. Chip Kelly was up in the press box looking down at this disaster of a football team that continuously showed its fans the worst defense in the modern era of UCLA Football, maybe any era. Kelly has a lot to fix, and while Kelly’s calling card is his offensive genius, he better have a magician on his new staff to fix this defense. I believe he has the wherewithal and ability to start the fix real quick, but we all know that there is A LOT to fix.
Good luck Coach Kelly!