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The Eye Test: Overcoming Adversity, Volume 1

Grading out the finer details of UCLA's 24-23 victory over the BYU Cougars in the Bruins' last non-conference regular season game to see if UCLA football is meeting expectations.

Nate Starks crosses the end zone for the go-ahead score against BYU.
Nate Starks crosses the end zone for the go-ahead score against BYU.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Try to remember what it was like to be 18-years old. For some of you, that might be a little tougher to do. Memories get hazy and all.

But, try.

I was arrogantly upset that I wasn't getting playing time while backing up an All-Conference linebacker, despite the fact I would have gotten my ass kicked in his position. I was getting paid $8 an hour to unlock doors for students that forgot to latch their doors while showering. I was trying to avoid the ire of the strength and conditioning coach while going through workouts that were more than occasionally overwhelming.

I was not at the most high profile position in football for one of the highest profile schools in the country.

Josh Rosen is being asked to do something that no QB at UCLA has done since Cade McNown, or what no QB at UCLA has done since Terry Debay in 1954.

The moment is going to be overwhelming sometimes and there are going to be mistakes made. Sometimes extremely costly ones like the three interceptions Rosen threw in the 1st half.

Similarly to what gbruin said in his always stellar Morning After post, the mark of a truly successful person is what they do before the other shoe drops.

More importantly, I think, the mark of a leader is their ability to rely on those around them when they need help.

That is what Rosen did in the 2nd half. The defense was there, the offensive line was there, the special teams were there, the running backs and wide receivers were there, the coaching staff was there, the fans at the Rose Bowl were there.

The UCLA Bruins got to 3-0 by escaping the BYU Cougars with a late TD run by Nate Starks and last minute interception by Myles Jack for a 24-23 victory.

I am more confident in this team now than I was after physically beating UNLV or the flashy win over Virginia. A grind-it-out win against a vastly more physically mature team is something to hang your hat on as a football team.

I'd say that is considerably more impressive than not openly laughing at the co-ed in a towel who needs to get into their dorm.

Let's get to the grades.

1.) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play?

The defense was on the field so much in this game, there were going to be some problems.

88 snaps on defense is a ton.

40:37 time of possession is a ton.

22 third/fourth down conversion attempts is a ton.

But allowing 405 yards and 4.6 yards per play is not a ton.

Only allowing 9 conversions on those 22 attempts is not a ton (especially when 4 of those 9 came on one 4th quarter drive where BYU ended up scoring only 3 points).

That's a damn good defensive game. That would have qualified as a top 10 defense last season in yards per play.

40% on conversions is not great, but the Bruins got off the field and did not give up touchdowns in a game where UCLA could not afford to give up any more than 23 points.

I liked the scheme a lot from UCLA. Had Fabian Moreau not missed most of the game with a foot injury, I think this game probably would not have been as close.

Myles Jack basically was a defensive back the entire game, and he unsurprisingly did a good job defending WRs all night. Tom Bradley trusted Jayon Brown to play Jack's spot at LB in this game and was rewarded for his faith as Brown had 9 tackles and looked more than competent throughout the game. Clearly still undersized for LB, but he held up against the Cougars in run and pass defense.

A major wrench got thrown into things when Kenny Young was ejected, but his backup Isaako Savaiinaea played a better game than I have seen from Young all season. Put up a crazy statline of 14 tackles, 10 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks/TFLs.

Think about that, in our toughest game of the year so far, and in a style of game that our defenses in the past under Mora have looked somewhat physically overmatched, the two primary linebackers were both backups and both played exceptionally well.

Kene Orjioke, another backup LB, had 2 pass deflections off the edge in key moments.

Aaron Wallace, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson (all backups in this game) combined for 9 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 pass deflections.

Denzel Fisher, despite being picked on at times, did not once get beat for a big play.

No one on defense did. BYU had two plays of over 20 yards and both were runs by Adam Hine where an edge defender got sucked inside instead of setting the edge. Both mental errors, not schematic problems.

I don't know how much more prepared a defense can be than that. The backups were playing as well as the first string players and the defense held up when they needed to. I feel fine giving the defense a B+ (3.3) here.

2.) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?

There were some not pretty moments in this game on the offensive side. There were also some "jump out of your seat and yell" moments in the good sense.

Going to get the elephant in the room out of the way early.

Josh Rosen was not good in the the first half, In fact, he played about as bad of a first half as I have seen from a UCLA QB and I watched some truly bad performances over the years.

5-15 for 52 yards with 3 interceptions with two of those interceptions coming in the redzone and a couple of other poor throws that could have been interceptions under different circumstances.

The second half was a massive improvement, with Rosen going 6-8 for 54 yards with a TD pass to get UCLA within 3 points in the 4th quarter. That pass to Payton was a beautiful ball and a great play-call by Noel Mazzone.

It takes a great deal of poise to respond like that in the 2nd half. Bright side is that now Josh Rosen knows he cannot throw those passes against good D-1 defenses. Because the entirety of athletes at this level are much, much faster than athletes in the Trinity League.

The running game however, was exceptional.

299 yards on 35 carries. 8.54 yards per carry. That takes out the 3 negative yardage "runs" on kneel downs to end the game (which are for some reason still, in 2015, counted against an offense).

Outside of 2 runs (one on the first play of the game and one poorly blocked handoff to Soso Jamabo), UCLA gained yardage every time they ran the ball in this game.

Paul Perkins and Nate Starks were phenomenal. The run blocking by the offensive line and Nate Iese at times was phenomenal.

If one side is an A+ for the entire game, and the other side is an F for half the game and a C+ for half the game, how do you grade that? I did it this way. Each quarter of the game and aspect of the offense was a 1 credit grade, two A+, one F and one C+. That comes out to somewhere between a C+ and a B-. I'm going with the B- (2.7) because of how impressive the running game was down the stretch to win the game. Actually being an easy grader for once.

3.) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times?

General Observations:

  • TFL on the first snap was just an outstanding effort on defense by the BYU OLB. Was the backside unblocked defender on the edge and crashed down from the far hash to the near hash where Perkins was headed on a stretch play. No lineman was supposed to touch him, he just knew what was coming and went and made a play.
  • Jayon Brown played great in this game, but had a miscue on a 2nd and 10 run that went for 11 yards in the 1st quarter. Didn't trust his instincts to go plug the hole. He got about 80% of the way there doing everything right and then hesitated just enough for Adam Hine to slip past him to the 2nd level of the defense.
  • BYU TD run in the first quarter: the edge was never set on an off tackle run out of shotgun. Deon Hollins is the DE/OLB on the edge here, but he pretty much instantly slants down inside and gets washed across the line by the LT. Now, without knowing the play call, there is no way to know if that was supposed to happen or not, but it is a safe bet that he was not supposed to end up on the other side of the center on a run to his outside shoulder. In addition to that, missed open field tackle by (I'm like 90% sure) Marcus Rios as the last line of defense on that side. If either the edge is set or Rios makes a tackle, I like UCLA's odds of forcing a FG instead of giving up 6.
  • Tip your cap to BYU on the onside kick recovery. Well scouted by them on UCLA's KOR tendencies. About 6 inches from going out of bounds.
  • Kene Orjioke stepping over a cut block and knowing to get his hands up quickly to bat away a quick pass to the sideline. That's what you're taught to do.
  • Next play, Isaako Savaiinaea pulls off an Eric Kendricks special, great pursuit with a perfect and physical form tackle to finish the run after 3 yards.
  • Soso Jamabo's first carry was a 3 yard loss before he ever touched the ball. LB blitzes right between Brendel and Lacy and is never touched. Gets to Jamabo basically at the mesh point of the handoff and takes him down. Anyone being critical of Jamabo for this run is insane.
  • Deon Hollins with a perfect job of setting the edge on a 2nd and 1. Forces a play for no gain. Big time play where he out leverages the RT despite giving up a ton of weight.
  • Hollins getting pressure off the edge on a 4th and 5. Randall Goforth also does a nice job breaking on the ball in the same spot. Good all around.
  • Devin Fuller's giant punt return, sprung by a great non-block block by Cameron Judge. Gets in the way of 3 BYU defenders without touching them. If he had touched them, he gets flagged for a block in the back but he stays in the way enough to seal Fuller. Alex Van Dyke also had a decleater block on the play. Nice to see Fuller spring a big run. Didn't have to make anyone miss, just find the sideline and run.
  • 28-yard run by Adam Hine for BYU, on the play where he hurdles over Jaleel Wadood. Just 100% a failure to set the edge by either Deon Hollins or Jayon Brown. Can't have that and UCLA paid for it. This was BYU's last TD drive and that got them deep into UCLA territory.
  • 22-yard run at the end of the 3rd quarter was caused by (guess what) a failure to set the edge on defense on the right side (where the left tackle is). JTM is the culprit this time. Cheats inside instead of holding his edge like he is supposed to. Adam Hine gets bottled up inside and bounces to the edge right as JTM goes inside to try and make a play he has no business trying to make. Nobody there for 20 yards.
  • Great job breaking on the ball by Denzel Fisher to get UCLA off the field with only allowing a FG. The defense needed someone to step up and Fisher did it on that play. He even took a hesitation step so he didn't get there before the ball did. Timing was perfect.
  • That last scoring drive by BYU where they covered three 3rd downs and a 4th down on their way to a FG to make it 23-17 was confusing. UCLA's defense really didn't do anything wrong worth noting on any play. No defensive back made any egregious mistakes, the relaxed coverage bothered me a lot more on Saturday night than it did on Sunday night watching it again. BYU just executed their offense perfectly and they drew up some good plays. There is not always a deeper reason to why things seem to go poorly on defense or offense, sometimes the other team just plays better than you play. I felt bizarre watching that drive back and not finding anything to speak about, either positively or negatively. It just kind of happened.
  • On the 2nd tipped pass by Orjioke, Mangum got incredibly lucky that the ball was tipped because Fabian Moreau was in perfect position to either destroy the WR or take the ball to the house on an interception. He diagnosed the play perfectly after being out for a lot of the game with a foot injury of some kind.
  • Eli Ankou with an impressive inside move on a pass rush to force Mangum to hurry up his process on 3rd and 7 on the final drive. Did not catch that the first time, he was the catalyst to that play breaking down. Big play in a huge moment.

As always, the penalties are taken on a play-by-play basis with context:

1. Targeting by Kenny Young, gets the starting linebacker ejected and gives BYU a free first down instead of a 2nd and 11 with Young likely getting credit for at minimum a TFL probably a sack. I wish I had a freeze frame of the moment that BYU's QB Tanner Mangum is sliding down showing where Young is in relation to him. Instead, I'll try to paint the picture with words.

Mangum is forced out of the pocket with a 4-man rush, the line of scrimmage is UCLA's 47-yard line. Mangum heads towards the near sideline, sees Young coming down off of his coverage to stop any running threat. Mangum is at the UCLA 49-yard line and begins to slide. This slide is not upfield, he has no forward momentum. Magnum is sliding down laterally towards the sideline so that he doesn't take a hit. He is living to fight another down, which makes sense given how well planned the first drive for BYU was.

Kenny Young at the moment that Mangum begins sliding down is at the UCLA 45-yard line. He doesn't have a full head of steam, he's not running out of control. He is stutter stepping to get himself in position to make a tackle. Once Mangum starts heading toward the sideline and down (which again, is clearly not in an attempt to gain yardage or do anything but  end the play), Young breaks forward and lunges headfirst at Mangum. Because Mangum's momentum is headed towards the sideline. Young misses the helmet-to-hemlet shot and instead lands a glancing blow on Mangum facemark with his elbow.

Young deserved to be ejected. He had every reason and opportunity to not even touch Mangum. Instead, he chose to go after the head of a player giving himself up while sliding. One of the most foolish penalties of the Jim Mora error. This was with 11:46 left in the 1st quarter.

Non-call but borderline: Myles Jack right on the edge of a personal foul for a late push out of bounds on a 2nd and 1 on BYU's first drive. Jack gets beat in coverage on a great route, ball is just out of the reach of BYU's WR in the end zone. As he is out of bounds trying to regain his footing, Jack gives him a push in the back and sends the WR towards the wall near the student section. Then Jack turns to the refs and complains about the WR pushing off, when it was clearly just a good route with normal hand fighting. Would not have faulted the refs for throwing a flag here.

2. Pass Interference by Fabian Moreau on a 2nd and 1. BYU tried to go back shoulder down the sideline, Moreau was a little too physical with the 6'5" WR for BYU and forced him out of bounds.

3. I missed the personal foul on Taylor Lagace on a punt near the end of the 1st quarter. Not sure what exactly happened, but feel pretty safe not giving the Bruins the benefit of the doubt on penalties after three years of basically leading the nation in penalties.

4. Taylor Lagace again for a kick-catch interference. Good call, Lagace needs to be able to avoid that situation.

5. Penalty was declined because BYU scored a touchdown, but Myles Jack was flagged for holding while in coverage on a 3rd and 5.

6. False start on the entire offense (snapped it before they were set) turned a 3rd and 2 into a 3rd and 7. UCLA converted anyway, but could have been a costly penalty.

7. Jayon Brown called for a block in the back or illegal block on Myles Jack's interception return. Missed this live as well.

I thought UCLA handled their business well in this category on all three aspects of the game. Penalties weren't a huge issue in this one, aside from the targeting penalty. The schemes on both sides and the gameplanning both looked solid. Would have looked better on defense if not for the injury to Moreau. B+ (3.3) is the grade here.

4.) Do our players play disciplined and with exceptional effort for 60 minutes every game on special teams, offense and defense?


Josh Rosen was not disciplined in the slightest in the 1st half. All of the interceptions were throws that a QB cannot make on this level. There was another near interception which should never have left his hands either. Cannot get away with that and win in every game.

This game was inevitable though. True freshman are going to play poorly sometimes because the adjustment to the college game is so massive. No matter how polished and impressive Rosen is, he will struggle. A double digits interception total is likely, not through any fault of Rosen. Just because he is a true freshman playing at the highest level of college football.

The running of Paul Perkins and Nate Starks was patient and aggressive when necessary. The run blocking was phenomenal, shout out to all those dudes up front for handling their business.


Well, our starting linebacker got ejected on BYU's first drive of the game. So that kind of put the defense behind the 8-ball.

But after that point, the running defense was sound in their responsibilities for all but two running plays. Only 3.9 yards per carry including those two 20+ yard runs which were more the fault of individual edge defenders than the entire defense.

The makeshift secondary always kept BYU's offensive players in front of them. No big passes. There were plays where Denzel Fisher was a step away from breaking up passes that were completed in front of him. That step is likely covered by Fabian Moreau if he were healthy enough to be in the game. Hard to fault a redshirt freshman for not playing exactly on the level as the All-Pac-12 senior cornerback he replaced.

Special Teams:

Devin Fuller, way to shut me up. Dude balled out on returns in this game. 194 all purpose yards without catching a pass. The blocking on those was also top notch.

Kickoff coverage and punt coverage stayed great as always. Matt Mengel was normal Matt Mengel at punter. Serviceable but unspectacular. The penalties were not ideal, but special teams penalties are on the level right below death and taxes on inevitability.

Ka'imi Fairbairn stays kicking most balls out of the end zone and has now made 34 straight inside of 35 yards and 19 of his last 21 overall, which is his MO.

After watching Texas lose a game on a missed PAT by a guy who has kicked like an 80-yard FG in practice, it just makes me appreciate the predictability and consistency of Fairbairn even more.

Stop complaining about him. He's a good college kicker.

I say B+ (3.3) here, mostly for the three interceptions.

5.) Do our players execute?

General Observations:

    • Fabian Moreau with picture perfect coverage downfield on the play after Young's ejection. UCLA blitzes 6 and Mangum takes a deep shot to the end zone. Moreau runs stride for stride with his man down the sideline, leaps and breaks up the pass.
    • Takkarist McKinley off the edge for his TFL. Too fast for the LT. Real impressive get off and burst. Blows up the play before it ever gets a chance to start.
    • Paul Perkins first 44-yard run was damn impressive. Pretty well blocked, tough combo for Alex Redmond and Brendel, so Brendel is only able to get a bit of a chip on the linebacker at the 2nd level (#22). Perkins has to step through that tackle attempt to get through the defense, but he does and then makes a great cut in the secondary to get by Kai Nacua in the open field. Dude is a stud with the ball in his hands. Would've never guessed he'd be this good when he was initially recruited.
    • Nate Starks is an exceptionally patient runner. His first carry could easily have been a 1 or 2 yard gain where he gets bottled up inside, but he waits for the traffic to clear, finds a crease and bursts through for 13 yards. His later runs were like this as well. Coach Polamalu has done such a great job with the RBs.
    • Tak McKinley's individual effort to get a QB hit on 3rd and 15 was admirable. Backside DE getting to the QB on a designed rollout doesn't happen unless a player is one hell of an athlete with the motor to match.
    • Jordan Payton is a damn good blocker on the edge. Effort is noticed.
    • Myles Jack in coverage is not fair. Just not fair that any player can do what he does while being a linebacker.
    • Cameron Griffin got cheated out of a tackle on UCLA's kickoff after the 1st Fairbairn FG. Just a note.
    • Deon Hollins probably got a sack taken from him on a play where the LT gets called for a hold. Hollins probably got held to the point where he could complain 6 times in this game. That burst was too tough to deal with.
    • BYU's last TD of the game. UCLA brought 6 and got stoned at the line of scrimmage. Mitch Matthews beats Marcus Rios on a post corner route and it is an easy throw under zero duress by Mangum. Just one of those things where you live by the sword and die by the sword if you blitz a ton like UCLA did in this game.
    • Injury to Nate Iese did not look good. Got rolled up from behind while blocking on a kickoff return. He did play later in the game, but a scary play for an important player in the offense and on special teams.
    • Paul Perkins' 33-yard run was perfectly schemed by BYU's defense. Had no reason for it to work, impossible pull for Lacy to make, tough seal for Benenoch. Both do an alright job, but Perkins breaks a pair of tackles before he gets to the line of scrimmage and then gets upfield for a big gain.
    • Loved everything about the 19-yard TD pass to Jordan Payton. The formation was great, the fake to the left side that was showing WR screen was great, the route by Jordan Payton was great, the protection was great, the ball placement and throw were great by Rosen. It was a huge moment and everybody came through.
    • Great pull by Kenny Lacy on Nate Starks' 31-yard run in the 4th quarter. Also a great seal by McDermott to the left side. Patience by Starks to see those blocks developing and then he hit the whole hard and downfield.
    • The next play was Alex Redmond who had the flashy pull, but Lacy's pull was equally important. Starks got 22 more yards on this one.
    • The final run was the sell of the keep by Josh Rosen, the down block on the left side by McDermott and the finishing ability of Nate Starks. There are two BYU defenders coming down off the edge and Rosen keeping the mesh point for an extra step forces them to remain honest (why they thought Rosen would pull is beyond me, but it worked), let Starks get to the line of scrimmage without having to battle through defenders.
    • Roosevelt Davis with masterful kickoff coverage on the final drive. Such a huge start to the drive to put them in a tough starting point. Those yards were extremely important in terms to BYU's ability to kick a FG.

Some observations about the dropped passes, sacks, fumbles, interceptions and missed tackles:

    • Not going to call it a strict drop, but if Jordan Payton wants to play in the NFL then he needs to make catches like the one he failed to corral on UCLA's first 3rd down. Hits both hands, needs to be caught. Still my biggest issue with the roster is the lack of any player capable of making these types of plays at wide receiver. Thomas Duarte is the closest, but not fast enough to play on the edges. There is another ball late in the 3rd quarter, deep ball down the sideline to Payton that is likely a TD if he has that extra gear to go get the ball. If he's a 4.4 instead of a 4.6 type of runner. But it is a half step short and just an incompletion. Someday UCLA will have a player to make those plays, hopefully next year as Rosen's appeal gets one of those type of recruit to say yes to UCLA.
    • The sack by Aaron Wallace was pleasant to see. Comes on a blitz off the edge, probably shows it too early but battles through a cut block attempt by the BYU fullback, sides steps it and delivers a blow on Mangum. Athletic move by Wallace. Going to need him to step up off the edge this season. Kenny Clark also beat the center on the sack, would've been right there if Wallace wasn't.
    • Josh Rosen's first interception. So frustrating watching it a 2nd time. The first read is to the 3-WR side where Nate Iese had just motioned into the flat. Rosen looks here but all 3 options are a no go, So he turns back to the right side, where Devin Fuller is solo. He is forced out of the pocket because Perkins gets steamrolled in pass protection, Perk does well enough to avoid a sack but the pocket is collapsed regardless. Rosen heads to his right, is followed quickly by a linebacker and has no chance to get to the edge or run for any type of gain. Fuller, for whatever reason, runs back to the line of scrimmage, taking his man with him to guarantee no escape for Rosen. Rosen has a chance to throw it away or take a sack, instead he tries to force the ball late over the middle to the slant coming across the field. There's pretty much no scenario where this isn't an interception. Harvey Langi is a hell of a player, but the pass was disastrous no matter the play. Simply not an option to ever attempt.
    • UCLA's 3rd sack was phenomenal. 6-man pressure with great rushes from both edge players, Matt Dickerson and (I believe) Deon Hollins. Isaako Savaiinaea beats his man after those edge rushers force him up in the pocket.
    • Josh Rosen's 2nd interception was just a bad pass that got tipped into the air and ended up being brought down by Langi again. Throws it behind Payton after making a good read to get the ball out quickly to the same side that BYU's blitz came from. Ball got there as Langi did and then Langi beat Payton for the ball in the air (which is not Payton's strong suit in general). Certainly the least frustrating of Rosen's bad passes. This probably should've just been an incompletion, but a hell of an athlete makes a hell of a play.
    • UCLA gets very lucky when Soso Jamabo gets hit while squeezing through a crease on his 2nd carry of the game. Helmet of Harvey Langi lands squarely on the ball and it pops out, landed right in the lap of Brendel though. Would have been a quick turnaround for BYU's offense and likely guaranteed points.
    • Next play probably should have been Rosen's third interception. Sails a ball down the sideline that Kai Nacua gets both hands on while jumping. Should not have thrown this ball with the safety sitting over the top.
    • UCLA's last sack of the 1st half was a lot of luck, but sometimes luck is necessary. Deon Hollins is unblocked on a play action, which I would recommend not doing. Two WRs end up in the same place and are effectively covered by one defender. The RB lets Savaiinaea slip by a bit too easily.
    • The third and final interception is basically a repeat of the 1st one. Flushed to the right side after his first read isn't there, then he tries to force a ball to a route across his body instead of just tossing it out of bounds. Trying to do way too much.
    • While Jacob Tuioti-Mariner gets credit for a full sack on a 3rd and 19, really it was a team effort with Deon Hollins and Matt Dickerson collapsing the pocket (Dickerson on a stunt from DT) and JTM does a nice job staying within the scheme to get his sack.

UCLA earned a B+ (3.3) here as well. Lots of good to minimize the huge execution mistakes.

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

On the defensive side of the ball, the name that pops up the most for me is Isaako Savaiinaea. A player whom was not supposed to play more than a supporting role in this game, but stepped up when his team needed him and had an All-Pac-12 type of performance in place of the ejected Kenny Young. 14 total tackles, 10 solo, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss.

He was all over the field and had clearly put in all the work necessary to be prepared for the game during practice last week. It is easy to forget how coveted of a recruit Savaiinaea was out of Hawaii a few years ago. As a true junior, it looks like he put it all together. Personally, I don't know how you justify giving Young his job back after what Savaiinaea did against a physical team like BYU. It was the best all-around game that a UCLA LB has had this season.

Jayon Brown was also a big factor on defense in a purposefully expanded role. The whole front seven picked up the secondary in a big way for the majority of the game. That is especially impressive because the front 7 was without Myles Jack (who was basically playing Nickel back in the slot for the entire contest).

On offense, the most credit should go to the offensive line. Conor McDermott, Kenny Lacy, Jake Brendel, Alex Redmond, Caleb Benenoch. The holes that Paul Perkins and Nate Starks had to run through made those two player's impressive performances possible. They also did an admirable job handling the exotic stuff that the BYU defense was throwing at them, both in run blocking and pass protection. Rosen got hit hard a couple of times, but there were no sacks allowed and only 2 TFLs allowed (kneel downs excluded as they should be).

Rosen also deserves some praise for playing well in the 2nd half and being able to push aside his dreadful 1st half and make one perfect throw for a TD to Payton and not trying to do too much to win the game by himself. That was a mature 2nd half by a freshman who cannot have had many games worse than that in his football career.

Overall, I'm going A- (3.7) here. The only reason a minus instead of a straight A is the fact that UCLA's starting ILB got himself thrown out of the game on the opening drive and our special teams captain had two 15-yard penalties. Other than that, pretty much all you could ask for.

Grade Card for the BYU Cougars:

1.) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play? B+ (3.3)

2.) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard? B- (2.7)

3.) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times? B+ (3.3)

4.) Do our players play disciplined and with exceptional effort for 60 minutes every game on special teams, offense and defense? B+ (3.3)

5.) Do our players execute? B+ (3.3)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field? A- (3.7)

BYU GPA: B (3.27)

For reference, the GPA for last week's victory over UNLV was a B (3.26) and Week 1's wins over Virginia was a 3.45 (B+).

This team has consistently looked well above average through three games. This is promising heading into the opener of the Pac-12 season against the Arizona Wildcats, who are likely going to returning Scooby Wright to their defense (though that could easily be a ploy). Arizona is a much different type of team than BYU, but similarly talented.

I have a lot of confidence in the Bruins to show up and continue playing at a high level as a team on the road in a tough arena in Tucson.

Until next week, Go Bruins!