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UCLA Defense Holds As Bruins Survive Against BYU, 17-14

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The Bruins escaped Provo, UT tonight with a 17-14 win as the defense held strong for most of the night.

UCLA sacked BYU QB Taysom Hill five times in tonight's game.
UCLA sacked BYU QB Taysom Hill five times in tonight's game.
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the best thing I can say about this game is that it’s over and UCLA won 17-7.

Other than that, it was an absolute snoozefest and I won’t even suggest that anyone who may have DVR’d the game waste their time watching it. Let’s look at the Good, the Bad and Ugly of this game.

The Good

That said, the Bruin defense played its best game in a long time. They held BYU to only 23 yards rushing and to 273 yards total. They held 26-year old BYU quarterback Taysom Hill to negative 8 yards rushing and they sacked him 5 times.

Defense tackle Eli Ankou added a blocked field goal on special team, which had it been successful would have likely meant overtime.

The worst thing for the defense, besides the last minute touchdown they gave up, was that Bruin defensive end Takkarist McKinley needed to be helped off the field late in the fourth quarter due to an injury.

The Bad

The UCLA offense didn’t play much better than the BYU offense. Sure, Josh Rosen was 26 of 40 passing and he threw for 307 yards, but the Bruins only managed 50 yards rushing for the entire game. Nate Starks led the Bruin rushers with 39 yards on 15 carries while Bolu Olurunfunmi added 15 yards on 8 carries.

They just couldn’t get the running game going in this one.

Rosen’s 26 passes were caught by twelve different receivers, but I’m not sure if that stems from the fact that Rosen seemed to be improvising on offense throughout much of the game or if it was by design.

On one hand, Rosen was only sacked once in the game which would seem to imply that the offensive line gave him enough protection, but, far too often, the protection schemes were breaking down forcing Rosen to scramble and improvise. And, so far this season, it usually isn’t a good thing when Rosen has to scramble and improvise.

One of these plays resulted in a BYU interception which may have been questionable as to who actually came down with the ball. Unfortunately, the limited camera angles limited the different perspectives replay officials had available and the call on the field stood.

But, there were several near-interceptions when Rosen was hurried or scrambled throughout the course of the game. In fact, it’s getting to the point that, when Rosen is under pressure, Bruin fans should probably hold their collective breath as Rosen seems much more inclined to try to force a play when things break down rather than throwing a ball away. On one hand, it’s easy to admire his determination to make the play, but, it’s nerve-racking whenever he does it.

The Ugly

The yellow flags were back out in force again tonight. Well, they were out in force against the Bruins. UCLA was penalized 5 times for 49 yards. While that may not be as bad as some of the games from last season, Bruin fans should be grateful that only 5 flags were thrown against them in this game.

While the Bruins’ first penalty of the game ultimately didn’t hurt them that much, you never want a 15-yard penalty assessed against you after your team just gained 35, but that’s exactly what Darren Andrews did after a huge gain. At least Coach Mora gave Andrews a hard time over it on the UCLA sideline.

Penalties played a crucial role in allowing BYU’s first touchdown.

Tonight’s game was officiated by a Big 12 crew. So, you can’t blame things on the Pac-12 officials. But Bruin fans should be grateful that only 5 flags were thrown against them in this game.

The Bruins were penalized 3 times for 24 yards on that drive and each penalty gave the Cougars a first down.

The fifth penalty against UCLA was a holding call on a drive that resulted in a missed field goal attempt by JJ Molson. It’s easy to look at that and say "Eh, Freshman kickers." (Canadian pun intended.) But, if the Bruins were 10 yards closer, would Molson have made it? I can’t say for sure, other than to say that a 28-yarder sure is an easier kick to make than a 38-yarder. At least, it didn’t prove to be a fatal holding call.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line in this one is that the Bruins got the win.

It wasn’t pretty and, in many ways, it was an ugly win, but it goes into the left-hand column and, now, UCLA can turn the page to Stanford, who easily beat Southern Cal tonight by a score of 27-10, in what will be the Bruins’ first test in the conference action.

And, what a test it will prove to be for Jim Mora and the Bruins who were thoroughly defeated last season on a Thursday night in Palo Alto.

Go Bruins!