Well, the game started off positively for the Bruins. The UCLA Bruins got on the scoreboard first after Dorian Thompson-Robinson hit Caleb Wilson on a 65-yard pass that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Bolu Olorunfunmi. Despite the fact that those were the Bruins’ first half highlights, the first half played itself out and, overall, the Bruins looked better than they did last week against Cincinnati.
When the teams went into the locker rooms for the half, the Oklahoma Sooners had scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 21-7 halftime lead.
At that point, there was still some hope that UCLA could narrow the Sooners’ lead and make a game of things.
The third quarter put an end to any remaining hope as the Sooners tacked on three more touchdowns to make it six consecutive TDs as Oklahoma took a 42-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, UCLA finally put an end to that streak, thanks to a six play, 75-yard drive that included a 21-yard pass to freshman Chase Cota as well as Theo Howard’s first catch of the game which went for 45 yards and put the Bruins on the Sooners’ one-yard line. After a one-yard loss on the next play, UCLA finished the drive with a two-yard plunge by Olorunfunmi.
Oklahoma responded with a 65-yard TD drive of their own and the Sooner led 49-14.
Then, suddenly, Chip Kelly seemed to finally open up the playbook as UCLA drove down the field relying more on the pass than the run for the first time this season.
It has certainly seemed odd that Chip Kelly has seemed to insist on running the ball almost twice as much as the team has thrown. Even in this game, UCLA threw the ball 26 times while running it 50 times. What makes this even worse is the fact that UCLA is clearly not doing a good job running the ball. Those 50 carries resulted in just 134 net rushing yards including 33 yards lost due to the six sacks of Thompson-Robinson.
Five of the six sacks happened in the first half. So, it would seem that the pass protection got better in the second half after it was terrible in the first half.
If the offense remains a work in progress, the defense has already made significant strides over last season. The Sooners threw a balanced attack at the defense with 70 offensive plays split evenly between passes and runs. The Bruins held a potent Sooner rushing attack to 179 yards. Some of that is certainly due to the fact that junior running back Rodney Anderson left the game after just six carries for 19 yards and a touchdown, but, last season, it would have easily been double that.
While there is clearly work to be done with respect to tackling and other fundamentals, the pass defense is also improved over last season. The Bruins held Kyler Murray to 306 yards passing and 3 TDs. He may well have thrown for more than 500 yards against last season’s defense.
While there was clearly improvement in some areas over last week, other areas showed a regression to bad habits that were the trademark of the Mora era. For instance, UCLA was penalized six times for 77 yards, but it seemed worse than that due to the fact that UCLA averaged almost 13 yards per penalty while OU also was penalized 6 times, but the Sooners were only penalized 40 yards. That’s almost half as many yards. But, I’ll leave an analysis of the penalty situation for this week’s Eye Test.
Overall, the Bruins looked better than they did last week, even if the third quarter turned the game into a blowout.
I’m really tempted to rely on the ol’ standby, “At least we beat the spread!” But, I’m so sick of losing that I don’t want to offer up any moral victories at all.
The bottom line to this game is simple. The Sooners put a beatdown on the Bruins and the much-anticipated Chip Kelly era has begun with 2 losses.