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Sunday Morning Quarterback: The Fisch-Rosen Effect Is Making Jim Mora Look Less Conservative

UCLA isn’t just punting less. The Bruins are going for it more on fourth down too.

Colorado v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Last night as the game unfolded, I noticed how Mike McIntyre went for it on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter. I even sent out a tweet from the Bruins Nation twitter account about it.

Well, apparently, when it comes to going for it on fourth down UCLA is going for it more often this year. Now, whether that’s attributable to the play of Josh Rosen or the play calling of Jedd Fisch or something else altogether, I’m not quite sure.

But, the fact of the matter is that, since 2008, UCLA’s “NeverKick %” for a full season hasn’t been any higher than 22.12% in 2011. Yet, five games into 2017, the Bruins currently have a “NeverKick %” of 23.53%.

Here’s where things stand after five games.

UCLA on Fourth Down After Five Games

Opponent 4th Downs FG Attempts FGA % Punts Punt % 4th Down Attempts Never Kick % 4th Down Conversions Conversion %
Opponent 4th Downs FG Attempts FGA % Punts Punt % 4th Down Attempts Never Kick % 4th Down Conversions Conversion %
Texas A&M 9 1 11.11% 5 55.56% 3 33.33% 2 66.67%
Hawal'l 1 0 0.00% 1 100.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00%
Memphis 7 1 14.29% 5 71.43% 1 14.29% 0 0.00%
Stanford 7 3 42.86% 2 28.57% 2 28.57% 2 100.00%
Colorado 7 2 28.57% 3 42.86% 2 28.57% 1 50.00%
Total 31 7 22.58% 16 51.61% 8 25.81% 5 62.50%

For all of Mora’s other faults, and there are plenty, it’s worth noting that these numbers are better across the board.

UCLA is sending out both the Field Goal and Punting units less frequently — much less frequently than any other time in the Jim Mora era.

That’s not to say there still are issues with Mora’s game management. There are plenty of other issues.

UCLA’s clock management at the end of the first half is one of the biggest areas that desperately need to be figured out.

Last night, UCLA got the ball back on downs with 54 seconds to go in the first half on their own 11-yard line following Colorado’s fake field goal attempt. That’s when the Bruin offense got downright bizarre.

On first down, UCLA threw a 5-yard pass to Theo Howard. After the catch, there were 49 seconds left as the clock ticked down. The Bruins allowed 16 seconds to run off the clock before giving the ball to Soso Jamabo who ran for 16 yards. That rush left 20 seconds on the clock, which Mora and staff just allowed to expire content to head into the locker room with a four-point lead.

But, the question this raises is this: “If you have one of the best quarterbacks in the county in Josh Rosen, why not let Rosen be Rosen at the end of the half and try to drive down the field looking to add more points before halftime?”

This isn’t the first time this has been an issue and I’m certain it won’t be the last time. It happened against Memphis two weeks ago. If Colorado had been able to beat the defense just one more time, the Bruins would have lost. But, if UCLA puts up at least three points before the half, then Colorado would have needed a touchdown just to tie the game on their final drive.

Some may look at this as nitpicking. To be sure, there are certainly plenty of Bruin fans who were just happy to get a win last night.

And, don’t get me wrong. There’s certainly a bunch of things to be happy about last night’s win. For starters, the defense played better and gave up fewer points than any other game so far this season. And some may consider this me being “negative” and trying to find anything to complain about.

But, we shouldn’t accept in a win what we wouldn’t accept in a loss and, while UCLA won last night’s game, it certainly wasn’t a decisive win for the Bruins and Jim Mora’s bizarre game management issues continue to be a problem facing this team that no amount of team bonding or tackling drills are capable of fixing.

Now, before I wrap this up, I am going to toot my own horn for a moment.

Those of you who watched from home may or may not have seen that, twice during the broadcast, ESPN mentioned the “local media” that wasn’t happy with Coach Mora after last week’s Stanford embarassment and they included an image from last week’s Sunday Morning Quarterback right in the center.

For those who may have missed it, here is a screenshot of what they showed.


They showed this twice during the broadcast. The first time was about 4 minutes and 30 seconds in. The second mention occurred with 5:55 to go in the third quarter.

Thanks to ESPN for putting Bruins Nation right in the center!

Go Bruins!