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UCLA Football: Oregon Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 42-21 defeat at the hands of the Oregon Ducks.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Oregon Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Ok, first things first. Initial impressions of the game?

Markybcool: It reminded me of the way I was felt last year watching the UCLA Bruins at times. Watching a team that continuously fails at multiple facets of the game, including coaching, is difficult to watch. I just keep telling myself that it will get better because I do not think it can get any worse. I mean many people are saying that if it weren’t for special teams the game would have been closer. What on earth from that game made you think that? The Oregon Ducks had almost 500 yards of offense, and while it might have been slightly closer, the outcome of this game was not going to be different with the way our defense was playing and tackling.

AnteatersandBruins: Yikes. Where do I start? We looked unprepared to defend their offense and also to execute our own. DTR is regressing and is not nearly as advertised.

Andrew Goodman: Can we just give the ball to Joshua Kelley every down?

orlandobruin: Special teams killed us. And the penalties. And more missed tackles and drops. After the “peak” of UC Berkeley, this team has regressed.

Dimitri Dorlis: Excellent special teams play was a calling card of Chip Kelly’s Oregon teams, so it had to be fun for Oregon fans to beat Chip Kelly thanks to excellent special teams play. That level of commitment should also give UCLA fans all kinds of pause regarding the efforts of this season.

Joe Piechowski: It got ugly very, very quickly.

2. Dorian Thompson-Robinson did not play well in his return from injury, and then got injured again. Wilton Speight came in in relief and looked much better. Should DTR still be starting at this point, or should Speight take over?

Markybcool: It’s simple, if DTR is healthy he should play. I will continue to say that, although DTR’s performance was not good early on Saturday, he continues to show what you would expect of a freshman that has not played a lot of football as a starting quarterback to show...inconsistency.

AnteatersandBruins: At this point, the season is a bust. Let the kid take his lumps so he can grow next year. I can’t figure out what the QB coaches are doing with him at this point and why he still looks so bad. If he continues to get hurt, however, that will affect next year and is something to think about. Speight looked much better this weekend and also deserves playing time, and if this season wasn’t such a dumpster fire I’d say start him. But if we’re looking long term, DTR needs to get his feet wet. His true freshman-ness is showing.

Andrew Goodman: It’s not smart to play a true-freshman QB that is not 100% healthy. DTR did make a few bad throws, but also made a ton of athletic plays with his feet that should’ve resulted in sacks. I guess Speight did move the ball a bit better, but a big part of that was Josh Kelley. It seemed like, every time he touched the ball, it was at least a gain of 6-yards. UCLA isn’t going anywhere this year so they shouldn’t rush DTR by any means. Although watching Wilton Speight won’t be fun much, either.

orlandobruin: I think the team is being very, very cautious with Thompson-Robinson. Not sure if he or Speight should start the last three games, but I will tell you this. The kid needs some serious work in the weight room this offseason or he’s going to be in and out of the lineup his entire career because he IS going to get hit. And, right now, he seems fragile.

Dimitri Dorlis: I feel like people want to discount just how much better the offense looked with Speight at the wheel, or want to put more of that success on other players. But the truth of the matter is that Speight looked like the better quarterback. Hell, he looked like the quarterback who had practiced with the starters all week, which is what had happened in the leadup to the Oregon game. Frankly, throwing DTR out there without that practice time only to watch him be ineffective before getting injured for the 2nd time in 3 weeks was an awful decision. It’s a practice year, so why risk breaking the toys when it doesn’t matter?

Joe Piechowski: I’ve said it for most of the season. Speight is our best option at QB. DTR needs to sit and learn the position, which he barely played in high school.

3. Let’s talk about the running game and offensive line: they were very good! What stood out the most to you here?

Markybcool: The O-line was really opening running lanes for Kelley, and Kelley was hitting them hard. Kelley just seems to be one of those running backs that instinctively makes the right read, and follows blocks correctly.

AnteatersandBruins: If any unit has improved leaps and bounds, it’s these guys. Boss Tagaloa’s return had an extremely positive impact.

Andrew Goodman: The offensive line has definitely been a bright spot this season, but I didn’t think they did a good job in pass protection. It seemed like DTR had no time to throw, and was constantly under pressure. However, their run blocking was spectacular. Josh Kelley owes those men dinner.

orlandobruin: Josh Kelley and the improvement of the O line have been the sole bright spots this season. More rushing the ball please!

Dimitri Dorlis: I was actually surprised at the pass blocking, but I don’t know how much of that was the line’s fault. DTR was pretty indecisive in the pocket (the sack-fumble, for example, featured DTR holding onto the ball despite having an open receiver in the flat, one that DTR even faked to) and the offense ran longer routes, leaving the offensive line to deal with a pretty-talented pass-rush unit. When Speight came into the game, the gameplan shifted to quicker passes, which led to increased protection. I guess there’s a question of why that change wasn’t made earlier, but that’s maybe lower on the question list for this game.

Joe Piechowski: I think the offensive line has been one of the biggest surprises. It was viewed as being one of the weakest units on the team heading into the season and has proven to be anything, but that. Credit goes to offensive line coach Justin Frye for turning this unit around.

4. The defense was not nearly as bad as the final score would indicate, as they got put in terrible positions by the offense and special teams for a lot of this game. How would you rate their performance?

Markybcool: I would rate their performance as bad!!! They continue to put zero pressure on the QB, which is one of the reasons our DB’s perform so badly. I said one of the reasons, the other is the DB’s just cannot find the ball in the air. The other huge issue is that our defense let’s opposing offenses convert on 3rd down almost 50% of the time. You are going to lose a lot of games when you allow that.

AnteatersandBruins: We can’t tackle. While it wasn’t abysmal, it still wasn’t good.

Andrew Goodman: Defense I thought was pretty meh, but it’s hard to be successful with so many lapses in special teams. The missed tackling epidemic is driving me nuts.

orlandobruin: Oregon still had 492 yards of offense on UCLA, with 200 on the ground. We still cannot tackle. We still cannot pressure the QB. Zero sacks. Although three of the Oregon scores were already in the red zone because of Thompson-Robinson’s fumble and special teams miscues, UCLA still didn’t “bow up” on two of them and hold the Ducks to field goals (the drive that started at the one and ended in a TD is excusable for the defense). Krys Barnes has an abysmal game. I give the defense a C-.

Dimitri Dorlis: Oregon’s average starting field position was their own 44 yard line, and they had 3 drives that began at or inside the UCLA 20. That’s a huge difference. The defense only gave up 3 long TD drives, which is equal to the amount UCLA had on offense. They did what they could, and were mostly let down by the special teams continually screwing them over.

Joe Piechowski: The tackling was bad again. I know Chip Kelly said there were only 6 missed tackles in this game, which is an improvement, but the tackling still doesn’t pass my personal eye test.

5. The special teams was truly special. What was your favorite miscue of the night?

Markybcool: I loved them all equally and passionately as it might have been the worst special teams performance that I have ever seen in a football game. I loved the fake field goal where they converted and we missed a tackle all in the same play.

AnteatersandBruins: Sweet Baby Jesus...that was the worst special teams play I’ve seen in a long time. I think a senior muffing a punt was my favorite.

Andrew Goodman: I think I died a bit on the inside every time there was a false start called.

orlandobruin: Krys Barnes’ missed tackle on the fake field goal (which would have stopped the runner short on the line to gain) was the worst. The ball ended up on the one yard line in a 7-0 game to that point. Or maybe the punt return that made it 7-0. Or Pickett’s fumble. Or the false start a on the long field goal attempt. Before the half. Cue Bizet’s Carmen Habanero.

Dimitri Dorlis: In 3rd place, we get Adarius Pickett muffing a punt for the second week in a row. In 2nd we get a false start moving an end-of-half FG attempt back and causing it to miss for the second week in a row. And in 1st we get the communication breakdown that led to coaches not telling J.J. Molson to be ready to get on the field, leading to a rushed FG attempt that also had a botched snap. Just amazing.

Joe Piechowski: They were all bad and indicative of a team which may have checked out for the season.

6. The Extra Point - Sound off!

Markybcool: An early game on the road against an ASU team that has two wins in a row against Southern Cal and Utah, sounds like a recipe for a blowout UCLA win. Hey, I am going to be a glass half-full guy here.

AnteatersandBruins: Stop getting false start penalties on 51-yard field goal attempts!!!!!! Two weeks in a row, people! Molson is good, but there’s a big difference between 51 and 56 yards. Stupid way to leave points on the table.

Andrew Goodman: It can only go up from here?

orlandobruin: Not feeling good about ASU in Tempe. Not good at all. But I’ll watch because of Battered Bruin Syndrome.

Dimitri Dorlis: No matter how you slice it, this team has regressed over the past 3 weeks. It’s almost like UCLA has a voodoo curse over the program that requires them to get worse as a season progresses no matter who the coach is.

Joe Piechowski: I’m not happy with the regression. If that trend continues, Chip really needs to consider replacing some of his assistant coaches.

Go Bruins!