The UCLA Bruins absolutely did what they were supposed to today at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins cruised to a 56-23 victory over the Rainbow Warriors. While the game was pretty much in hand by halftime with the Bruins up 35-7, there were some fireworks to come as well as some controversy in the second half.
The UCLA Bruins received the second half kickoff and continued where they first left off in the first half, with Josh Rosen exhibiting the skill set that has to make NFL executives forget anything negative they were thinking about him over the summer. Rosen completed five passes during the first drive of the 3rd quarter, capping it off with a perfect pass to Darren Andrews for a 34 yard BRUINS TOUCHDOWN! UCLA took a 42-7 lead at that point.
The Rainbow Warriors once again moved the ball down the field. Dru Brown completed five passes on the drive, and while a potential TD was reversed after replay showed the receiver did not maintain control of the ball after hitting the ground, Dru Brown still completed a pass to the right to John Ursua for 2 yards for a TD. UCLA 42-14.
UCLA’s second 3rd quarter possession was helped with a huge kickoff return from Darnay Holmes. Starks started the drive with a beautiful run that was immediately negated by a Massington hold. However, on the next play Rosen completed a pass to Starks and a rouging the QB added 15 yards to the end of the play. The Bruins were once again knocking at the door with a 1st and goal at the 10 yard line. A false start moved the Bruins back five, but a Bolu Olorunfunmi rush to the right for 14 yards put the ball on the 1 yard line, and a 1 yard TD run by Bolu put the Bruins up 49-14.
The Rainbow Warriors next drive once again moved the ball but penalties hurt the drive, and the Rainbow Warriors could not overcome a 3rd and 27 and ended up punting.
UCLA once again took their possession and quickly drove down the field with Rosen completing four passes during the drive, ending with a pass to the right to Caleb Wilson for a 3 yard TD. Putting the Bruins up 56-14, and Rosen ending his day at that point.
I’ll spare you the rest of the play-by-play, as one important development took place. Josh Woods was ejected during the 4th quarter for a controversial targeting penalty in the end zone. NCAA rules state:
This puts Josh Woods out of the first half against Memphis next week, and this adds to the one alarming revelation of this game, our young defense continues to struggle. Hawai’i managed to rack up 515 total yards against the Bruins defense, with 281 of those yards coming on the ground. Another worry has to do with the fact that the Rainbow Warriors dropped back to pass 39 times, and UCLA was only able to manage one sack with minimal overall pressure. Granted, injuries to key players helped contribute to those numbers, but as Jim Mora said at halftime, “next man up.” This is where overall team depth has to come into play, and hopefully getting some of these younger players some snaps will only help down the road. The Bruins defense is definitely young, and the hope is they will continue to grow as the season unfolds.
Let’s end with the positives. Josh Rosen is the best pure quarterback in college football! I’m convinced of that. Rosen was 22/25 for 329 yards and 5 TD’s. He was surgically precise the entire game. I will say that it was the best he has looked since he’s been at UCLA. Being in the zone comes to mind when describing his effort today.
Let’s also give credit to Coach Jedd Fisch. I thought he called a tremendous game. The mix of run and pass was perfect. The mix of play action, quick passes, and the overall flow of play calling made Rosen even more effective. And that’s what you want, a coach that can put his QB in the best possible position for success. Coach Fisch did that for Rosen today.
The UCLA running game was a little better today as well. The Bruins were able to gain 132 yards on the ground, and they picked up some big plays when needed. Demetri Felton had a couple of nice runs as did Starks and Olorunfunmi. Hopefully, this will be a game to build on, but it is clear that UCLA will be best with Josh Rosen throwing the ball.
UCLA did what they should have today. Many looked at this game as a trap game and UCLA quickly dismissed that and did not allow Hawai’i to gain any confidence that they could come back in the game. Next week brings the first road game for the Bruins. Let’s hope they can get healthy and travel to Memphis full strength and ready to go.