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UCLA Football: Colorado Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 38-16 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Buffaloes.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Since the game was a tale of two halves, let’s start by getting your impressions of the first half. What were the positives that you saw?

AnteatersandBruins: I actually had hope in the first half. We were putting together some consistent drives, the line was holding better than they had in past weeks, and we held the Buffs to only two scores. Then the second half started…

Markybcool: During the first half there were definitely some positives on both sides of the ball. I enjoyed seeing the running game get going and the offense seemed to have a flow as well. The Bruins also looked ready to play and not intimidated with the environment and the crowd. The first half was fun.

Andrew_Goodman3: Much like AnteatersandBruins, I actually thought the Bruins might win their first game of the season the way they played the first half. Defensively, the Bruins bent, but didn’t break in the first half, and then there was the second half… Any progress that was made in the first half was almost immediately negated by the Buffs’ offensive onslaught.

Dimitri Dorlis: Shout out to the offensive line, which has shown clear progression through the past few games. It certainly helped that Boss Tagaloa was able to successfully slot in at center and provide a spark in run blocking, but the shuffling really helped this unit look like it belonged at the Pac-12 level, which is nothing short of miraculous.

Joe Piechowski: Believe it or not, there was a lot to like, at least, in the first half. We were moving the ball well, especially on the ground. Due to that, the flaws in the passing game were somewhat hidden. I thought the offensive line played its best half of the season. The playcalling seemed to be much better, too.

2. And, sticking with the first half, what negatives did you see?

AnteatersandBruins: We still had a lot of incomplete passes. Yes, I know we’re passing freshman to freshman a lot of the time, but there were also times Caleb Wilson could have been targeted and he wasn’t. Either Dorian Thompson-Robinson isn’t reading his progressions or there is a timing or route running issue. Our line, while better, also can’t create enough space for our run game. Running it up the middle shouldn’t even be in the playbook because it simply isn’t working.

Markybcool: I still feel like the offense does some predictable things.

Andrew_Goodman3: While Thompson-Robinson looked ok in the first half, he still missed wide open receivers. He has the tendency to stare down a WR which gets him into trouble very quickly. I couldn’t agree more with AnteatersandBruins, he needs to look to get Caleb Wilson involved more often. He’s arguably UCLA’s biggest offensive weapon and he’s been relatively quiet to start the season. Wilson only has 10 catches this season and that’s a big red flag in my eyes.

Dimitri Dorlis: Thompson-Robinson’s poor outing actually began in the second quarter, where he started to routinely miss open receivers, either throwing inaccurate passes or failing to pass to them at all. And, just so I space these out, the defense and, specifically, Nate Meadors had more than a few drive-extending penalties that would translate more frequently in the second half.

Joe Piechowski: As I wrote above, I think the running game helped mask the performance of the passing game in the second quarter. It didn’t really notice an issue until Thompson-Robinson went 0-for-3 passing in the third. I didn’t see negatives because I was so thrilled to death that we finally seemed to be sustaining drives offensively.

3. Ok, second half time. Let’s be nice and again start with the positives from the second half.

AnteatersandBruins: JJ Molson was consistent. That is all.

Markybcool: We had a nice drive to start the 3rd quarter, and that’s about it.

Andrew_Goodman: Hmm, I did like the way RB Joshua Kelley was running the football. He and J.J. Molson were UCLA’s best players on Friday :(

Dimitri Dorlis: No, seriously, J.J. Molson deserves every bit of praise we can give him here, because he’s really making good on the promise he held when he first came to campus, and looks like he’s finally become another in a long line of consistently-great UCLA placekickers. Also, Stefan Flintoft is one of the best punters in the nation somehow? I didn’t know that until the commentary crew mentioned it repeatedly and, sure enough, that’s actually the case. Good for him!

Joe Piechowski: The defense held as long as they could.

4. Aaaaaaand, now, for the second half negatives....I assume you have a lot so go ahead and talk about them.

AnteatersandBruins: Good lord. Can’t block, can’t pass, can’t pass rush, can’t run...what’s left??? We never make adjustments in the second half. So, we come out looking like chumps and the other guy (literally doesn’t matter who it is) puts together a highlight reel. UCLA is going to owe me a Weight Watchers membership at the end of the season to counteract all of my stress eating.

Markybcool: After the one drive in the second half, the offense was basically three and out. After UCLA scored on that first drive, CU immediately drove down the field against UCLA’s D and never looked back after that.

Andrew_Goodman3: Oy vey. Where do I start? UCLA’s inability to get any sort of pressure on opposing QB’s is just astoundingly terrible. Montez was just totally shredding the Bruins with his arm, and his feet. It’s almost like the Bruins have never seen an opposing team run a zone-read before. Yikes. The UCLA Bruins have gotten slaughtered this season in the third quarter which indicates that they do not make much adjustments during the half. Save me, please.

Dimitri Dorlis: At some point, the Colorado Buffaloes finally realized they should load up the box and make a poorly-performing quarterback try and beat them, and it worked. That’s really the story of this game when you break it down. Meanwhile, the defense faded again, and yeah, I’m starting to think there’s something in the water in Westwood that makes it impossible for a UCLA team to ever defend against a mobile quarterback.

Joe Piechowski: It begins and ends with the play of Dorian Thompson-Robinson. His inability to sustain a drive didn’t just hurt the offense. It also put the defense back on the field early. So, his play impacted the entire team’s performance. I’d say that Chip Kelly needs to bench him, but I think you’ve heard that before.

5. Let’s get crazy here and put everyone on the record: what should be done about the QB position going forward?

AnteatersandBruins: I’d say pull him, but who the heck is going to take his place? Speight isn’t the answer, in my opinion. Lynch didn’t look so bad last year, but he must have looked terrible this year compared to the other three quarterbacks. Chip Kelly lost his only viable option. So, the only thing you can do is leave the kid in and recruit for the coming years. My big reservation with Dorian Thompson-Robinson going into the season was his lack of playing time. I think it’s showing.

Markybcool: I say we continue with him, but, again, I am not blind to the fact that you have to produce in order to play. With that being said, I feel there is always a balance. Some have categorized his play as way worse than I have. Yes, he’s making mistakes, but he’s a freshman. If there is a better alternative on the team, then it’s up to Chip to identify who that better alternative is and give them a chance.

Andrew_Goodman3: Like Markybcool, I am a huge Thompson-Robinson guy. However, that doesn’t mean I am blind to his quarterbacking issues. He’s young and I don’t think they should pull him because the other options at QB are way worse. This season is a rebuilding year and I believe benching him hurts his growth as a QB just a little bit. There will be peaks and valleys, but Chip Kelly has to stick with him because, after all, he is UCLA’s prized possession at QB.

Dimitri Dorlis: The only quarterback on the roster that isn’t a Jim Mora holdover is Wilton Speight. The quarterback who won the job coming out of fall camp was Wilton Speight. The only quarterback on the roster who has won a game at the collegiate level is Wilton Speight. So, I don’t get the argument that the other QB options are worse. I don’t even get the argument that Chip is rolling with the quarterback he feels is best suited to run the offense, because if that were the case Thompson-Robinson would have been the starter against Cincinnati and not Speight. Now, I do get that people want to let the, and I feel I need to couch this now with, possible future develop on the field, but, at some point, Chip Kelly is going to need to prove that this new offense can work, and Thompson-Robinson just isn’t getting it done. If he’s healthy, Speight should start. It sends the message that no one is above being benched for poor play.

Joe Piechowski: Two words: BENCH DORIAN! There comes a time when you have to try something else. Having Dorian Thompson-Robinson as the starting quarterback is not working. It is time for Chip to try someone else. That could be Speight. It could be Burton. It could be Lynch. But, the failure to bench Thompson-Robinson, at this point, amounts to coaching malpractice on Kelly’s part.

6. The Extra Point - Sound off!

AnteatersandBruins: Saturday is going to be ugly. We’ve regressed to the point that I think it’ll be worse than Oklahoma. I’d love to see a breakout game where we finally get it together and don’t look back, but that’s long in coming. I’ve said it to friends and I’ll say it here: I think our progress is going to look like a hockey stick. Terribly flat at first. But at some point you’ll see an uptick and there’ll be nowhere to go but up. But that’s a two to three year process and having a growth mindset and patience is getting increasingly harder, especially when ticket prices are also going nowhere but up.

Markybcool: I am not overly excited about the game on Saturday. Although I do like to watch Jake Browning play since he is a local kid. It seems there are so many issues with this team right now that it makes it really scary to see where it could possibly go this season. I hope I am wrong, and I hope to start seeing more improvement in all areas, but it’s tough for me to see that happening against a tough team like the Washington Huskies.

Andrew_Goodman3: Line up the tequila shots, because Saturday is going to be rough. Last week against the Buffs was a prime opportunity for the Bruins to get back on track, but naturally they regressed. Washington will have absolutely no problem putting up points against the Bruins D, but the real question is: Will UCLA be able to hold them under 40? I doubt it. My family has had UCLA season tickets for the last 50+ seasons, but we decided to give them up before this season because of how outrageous the prices are. I’m glad we cancelled them.

Dimitri Dorlis: I’ve never been happier to go to a wedding in the fall than I am this weekend.

Joe Piechowski: To put it into words Chip understands, the way to win on Saturday is for him to have a conversation with Wilton Speight, Austin Burton or Matt Lynch and say, “Hey, Wilton/Austin/Matt, you’re starting.” Then, Wilton/Austin/Matt will say “Yay!” And, that’s it. But, starting Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a guaranteed loss and I’m starting to think that it’s becoming clear that he is more like Kevin Craft, Kevin Prince and Ben Olsen than Josh Rosen, Brett Hundley, Cade McNown or Tommy Maddox.

Go Bruins.