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UCLA Bruins Pick Up Against Hawai’i Where They Left Off Against Texas A&M

Josh Rosen and the Bruin offense were almost perfect yesterday.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way right away this morning.

The UCLA offense punted the ball only once yesterday and it wasn’t until the Bruins’ final drive of the game that Stefan Flintoff was called on to punt the ball away.

So, the UCLA offense kept the punter off the field yesterday and they did it the right way. In the first half, only one UCLA drive, the one that ended the half, didn’t result in a touchdown.

In the second half, it was more of the same. Only two UCLA drives didn’t result in a touchdown and those were the final two drives of the game when backup Devon Modster had replaced Josh Rosen at quarterback.

That’s pretty damn good offensive efficiency. It doesn’t get much better than that.

So, let’s look at the where the team stands on fourth down stats after two games:

UCLA on Fourth Down After Two 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%
Total 10 1 10.00% 6 60.00% 3 30.00% 2 66.67%

In fact, UCLA was so efficient yesterday that the team on faced a 3rd down situation nine times yesterday and they converted seven times. The only two failed 3rd down conversions occured at the end of the game when Devon Modster was sack in the end zone for a safety and the final UCLA drive when the team punted the ball away.

But they converted their first seven 3rd downs yesterday. Wow.

Now, that said, that doesn’t mean the Bruins played a perfect game yesterday. There were still some stupid penalties, which I’ll leave for the Eye Test, and there were, no doubt, some terrible calls by the officiating crew. The officials called two similar plays inconsistently.

Namely, they allowed a blow to Kenny Young’s head to go without targeting while calling it on Josh Woods, despite the fact that Woods was not trying to cause a collision.

There were some improvements. Most notably, UCLA rushed the ball for more than 100 yards, gaining 132 yards on the ground. More encouraging than that, there were several larger runs. Nate Starks, Demetric Felton, and Brandon Stephens each had 25-yard runs while Bolu Olorunfunmi’s longest of the day was 14 yards.

Josh Rosen was only sacked twice yesterday while Devon Modster was sacked once for a safety late in the game. That’s another big improvement over last week.

Of course, Texas A&M is a much better football team than Hawai’i but the running back ran better and the offensive line kept Rosen off the turf and they deserve some credit for that.

Let’s take a look at the post-game interviews.

UCLA Coach Jim Mora was asked during his interview to comment on the lack of a flag on the Kenny Young hit and the Josh Woods targeting call, but he was noticeably upset. “I probably shouldn’t...yeah...I probably shouldn’t,” Mora said.

But, when asked about the impact of not having Josh Woods for the first half of the Memphis game, Mora expounded by saying:

I think it’s horrid. It’s an awful rule, quite frankly, that you're taking a young man who's just playing football hard at full speed and Josh is anything but a dirty player. He's not a dirty player at all and he makes a clean hit. You know things happen so fast out there. You know it happens so fast. The receiver catches and he's coming down. So all of a sudden, Josh hits him kind of high and, now, you're gonna punish this guy by not letting him play for an entire half. I think it's a terrible injustice and I think it's a horrible rule....I don't think it deters anybody from anything. Those guys are out there they're laying it on the line every down. Like I said, you know, I don't think that college players go out there with the intent to play dirty or the intent to target. I'm not talking about just ours. I'm talking about college players in general. I think they like to play the game hard and physical and the way it's supposed to be played. And, I think it' know....the penalty...look I can live with the penalty, but the penalty to the player of having him sit out entire half...they only get 12 chances in college. It's an awful rule. It's a horrible rule. It's a horrible injustice to these young men that give so much every single day, bring so much to their universities, and add the coffers of the NCAA to ask them not to play because of a legitimate effort play like that. I don't like it at all, to be honest with you.

Here’s the full video of Coach Mora. Thanks to Edward Lewis of the Bruin Sports Report for all of the coaches’ post-game interviews.

Next, we have Jedd Fisch, who, after two weeks, is looking like the right man for the job. For some reason, the media kept asking Coach Fisch about whether or not the team had practiced some of the wrinkles they threw at Hawai’i, like having Demetic Felton run the ball a few times and the Caleb Wilson pass play. Fisch offered his thoughts on that play:

I would have liked to see this get in on that but Nate kind of bobbled it a little bit. They reacted pretty good to it there to make a play to stop us short of the end zone. But it was nice. It was nice to get a nice big chunk of change there.

It was definitely nice to see we have an offensive coordinator who is willing to get creative. After two games, Fisch is starting to look like UCLA’s most exciting offensive coordinator since Homer Smith.

As much as the offense looks good, the defense looks like a work in progress. Sure, it’s tough when you’re missing some starters from your defense and Tom Bradley’s comments reflected that. Bradley spoke about the impact to the team of Kenny Young’s injury.

It's not a lot of fun when they guy that’s the leader of your defense is on the sideline with a towel around his neck. You know, you’d rather see him out there.

Coach Bradley also touched on how the defense needs to keep getting better and how it’s almost impossible to make it through an entire season unscathed.

Several players also spoke after yesterday’s game. All of the player post-game interviews are courtesy of Matt Joye of Bruin Report Online. First up is Josh Rosen.

Josh spoke a lot about the team’s offensive philosophy under Coach Fisch. “It’s just a different way of thinking,” Rosen said. He also paraphrased Vince Lombardi when he said, “You have to strive for perfection and, hopefully, stumble upon greatness along the way.”

That’s one of my favorite Lombardi quotes and it’s refreshing to hear a Bruin quarterback talking like that.

Rosen also offered the team’s expectation for the offense. “If we aren’t scoring [every time we touch the ball], there’s a fixable reason for why and we fix that and continue to do so. We have to set that as the expectation.”

Next, Theo Howard talks about his big game.

Nate Starks discussed the opportunity he had to start a tailback yesterday. While he didn’t offer details, he did say that Soso Jamabo “went down.” So, it appears that Jamabo got hurt during the week, but exactly what kept him out is still unknown.

Freshman Darnay Holmes discussed his first Pick Six in college as well as who the defense turned to for leadership after yesterday’s injuries.

Last but not least, center Scott Quessenberry spoke about the team’s offensive production as well as how Coach Fraley has helped him help revitalize the running game.

Next week, the team heads to Memphis to play the Tigers. Let’s hope that the barbecue is the only thing that’s low and slow for Bruins in Memphis and, more importantly, that the team doesn’t look past the Tigers to their week 4 showdown against Stanford.

Go Bruins!