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Sunday Morning Quarterback: No One Thing to Point to in UCLA’s Loss to Arizona

Overall, last night’s game was an uninspiring performance by the Bruins.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona
The Bruin defense really needs to tackle better.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the UCLA Bruins lost to the Arizona Wildcats, 20-17.

So much for turning a corner.

Sure, UCLA was in a position to win and JJ Molson’s field goal attempt was wide right, but a missed field goal really isn’t why UCLA lost this game.

Chip Kelly acknowledged this in his postgame press conference when he said:

It’s unfortunate. It comes down to a kick at the end of the game. He just missed it. There were a lot of other plays during the course of the game that we could have made that wouldn’t have made it come down to one kick at the end of the game.

That just might be the most honest answer Chip Kelly has given since becoming the Bruins’ head coach.

Sure, the Pac-12 officials were awful last night. How bad were they? They were bad enough that last night’s game should have the conference discussing their performance under the Pac-12’s new transparency policy.

But, they weren’t the only reason the Bruins lost last night either.

There are a whole list of contributing factors which resulted in last night’s loss by the Bruins.

Chip Kelly’s playcalling was certainly uninspiring to say the least.

The fact that Demetric Felton only touched the ball eight times was inexplicable. After the game, Chip Kelly was asked about it and said that, if you look at it, it was probably a 50/50 split between Josh Kelley and Felton. He also deflected responsibility for the substitution pattern to DeSean Foster.

Of course, Foster didn’t meet with the media last night and won’t during the week this week, even though he used to on a relatively regular basis under Jim Mora. Yet, somehow, Chip Kelly doesn’t prohibit his assistant coaches from speaking with the media. Almost a season and a half without a peep from an assistant coach sure makes it look that way.

Is it possible that Felton was banged up? After a big game like he had last week that’s possible. Of course, Chip might not discuss that because it would be a tip-off to future opponents.

Did Kelly think that he didn’t have a good week in practice and Joshua Kelley had a better week? He didn’t say that either.

Was the shift due to Kelley finally being 100% healthy? That could be, but, again, Kelly didn’t mention it. So, suggesting that would be speculative.

Overall, though, there really isn’t one thing anyone can point to as an explanation for last night’s game, although there is still one thing which has been consistent in each and every game the Bruins have played this season. The pass defense has been consistently awful.

The defense gave up 352 yards in the air to a true freshman quarterback starting his first game, but even that wasn’t bad enough to say it was the big reason the Bruins lost last night.

That said, if it doesn’t improve fast, Paul Rhoads will need to be replaced as secondary coach. Jerry Azzinaro probably needs to go, too. Or, at the very least, Azzinaro should be demoted to defensive line coach since that’s where he seems to be best.

If there was a bright spot defensively, it was the run defense, which held Arizona to under 100 yards rushing last night.

I do find it rather amazing that the defense has quickly gone from the pass defense being a strength under Jim Mora and the run defense being a weakness under Mora to now being the reverse. The run defense is now a strength and the pass defense is a problem.

It would be nice if the defense could finally become stout against both. If that could finally happen, UCLA might finally start winning winnable football games like last night.

Go Bruins.