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The "Eye Test" Part 1 of 2: The Cardinal Dominate The Bruins

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Grading out the finer details of UCLA's 21-10 first half deficit against the Stanford Cardinal to see if UCLA football is meeting expectations.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, doing the Eye Test a little differently this week. Since there is no Pac-12 Championship Game for the UCLA Bruins to look forward to, I am going to break up this week's Eye Test into two parts. One for the 1st half, which saw UCLA go down 21-10. And one later for the second half, which saw UCLA lose 10-0 to make for an overall score of 31-10 in favor of the Stanford Cardinal.

Let's get to the first half grades:

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

The defense actually played well more often than not when one particular set was on the field.

  • FIrst series, my dream defensive line group was all in on the same play. Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Clark inside at DT, Ellis McCarthy and Owamagbe Odighizuwa at DE. No surprise that Stanford went three and out and got no push against that defensive front.
  • The next series, it is back to what they've been doing all year. Why? It is just such a waste that those 4 players didn't play a couple hundred snaps at the same time this season. 4 NFL defensive lineman not utilized at the same time.
  • They have those 4 in again against Stanford's jumbo set near the goal line in the 1st quarter. The other package got lit up all the way down the field. This unit gives up a 4-yard run where the RB gets lit up trying to squeeze through a hole. Then a 3-yard run on 2nd down. Then they stop the RB short of the goal line, then give up a 1-yard run. Not a goal-line stand, but a much better look than the rest of the defensive packages showed all game.
  • Next series, TFL on 1st down with that front. Basically, that was the front that made Stanford's running game a non-factor in the 1st half. Under 4 yards per carry.
  • Once Deon Hollins and Aaron Wallace got hurt, I thought it was a for sure thing that UCLA was going to go with those 4 for the majority of the snaps. Why not go with the most size possible as well as the most talented front? Especially without a proven pass rusher like Hollins in that group of OLBs/DEs. I believe Wallace's injury was less serious, but he was still banged up. All the more reason to lean on those guys.
  • The 2nd Stanford TD, do you want to guess the DL that was in? On a 2nd and 11 near the red-zone in the 2nd quarter. Kenny Clark, but with Eli Ankou, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Aaron Wallace. Along with a needless pass rush from Myles Jack and a late blitz that is nowhere close to hitting home from Eric Kendricks.
  • Seriously, edge rushing is not something I have seen Jack consistently do well against a high level opponent. I don't get why it keeps happening. Just let the kid cover people in space and play linebacker. He is not an edge rusher, he will not ever be an edge rusher.

Pressures on pass plays:

  1. Ellis McCarthy sons the LG on Stanford with an outside move at the snap, he gets to Kevin Hogan and puts a big hit on him. Actually had a defensive lineman win a 1-on-1 at the snap. Unfortunately it is completed because of an uncalled OPI on the Cardinal that trips up Fabian Moreau.
  2. Eli Ankou gets a nice pressure inside on a 1st and 10, doesn't get the sack because he is out of control but it does actually disrupt Hogan and forces him to try and run.
  3. Owa gets to Hogan, but does not wrap up. Great move. Did not finish. End up being a TD pass to Devin Cajuste.

But, in reality, the defensive lineman as individuals did not play well. Nor did the secondary, nor did the linebackers.

Letting Kevin Hogan go for 189 yards passing in the first half is inexcusable.

Letting Stanford's offense get four 20+ yard plays in one half without Ty Montgomery is inexcusable.

Committing 5 defensive penalties in one half is inexcusable.

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

If you take into account the brilliant first drive and how the offense never looked that way again in this game, it is a sobering 1st half. Starting with 5 plays going for 64 yards (an unsustainable 12.8 yards per play) got everyone's confidence up.

56 yards in their next 18 plays. That's 3.1 yards per play. Even against a top 5 defense, there is no excuse for an offense to be that unproductive.

There was bad everywhere. A huge dropped pass in the red-zone, missed blocks, two sacks (only one really should count as a sack, in my opinion). A couple missed throws by Brett Hundley, who started 3-3 for 50 yards and a TD and then went 4 for 10 after that point for 23 yards.

Granted, one of those was a throw away, another one was a toss up downfield on what should have been a free play because Stanford was visibly offsides and not called for it and there was the one that was a drop on a beautiful ball on a deep out to Fuller.

Stats on Hundley aren't as bad as they seemed if you take those things into account.

Running game on actual running plays went for 55 yards on 9 carries, which is over 6 yards per carry against one of the best rushing defenses in the country. That is a half worthy of praise. All things considered, the offense probably should have been at least at 17 points in this half instead of 10.

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

General Observations:

  • Run fits on a big run by Stanford on the first play after the Brett Hundley TD. Get saved by a BS holding penalty on the Cardinal. Canceled out a 39-yard run. Vanderdoes got put on skates by Andrus Peat on this play, blown 4 yards off the ball.
  • Screen play on a 2nd and 11, Ellis McCarthy is undisciplined in continuing to rush after Andrus Peat released him. I realize that McCarthy is an unbelievably talented player, but he needs to realize that there is never going to be a play where he beats Peat that easily. Eric Kendricks also overruns the screen, doesn't trust his help outside and gives the RB a lane in the middle. Giving up 1st downs on 2nd and 11 is not a productive way to defend.
  • Mossi Johnson was totally lost on the KOR after Stanford's first TD. Got Jordon James tackled at the 15 because he didn't try to touch anyone on the play.
  • Anthony Jefferson diagnosed the hell out of the Wildcat set in the 1st quarter. Blew it up for a TFL. That is 100% from studying film. Knew where the ball was going before the snap.
  • Tahaan Goodman does the same thing on the next play (which is just a regular stretch play). Dips underneath the WR pre-snap and is in the backfield immediately after the handoff. It results in another TFL, though Myles Jack ends up getting it as the back made it outside after Goodman blew it up.
  • Owa undisciplined in his contain on a reverse to Francis Owusu. Let Owusu get around the corner for the 1st down. Have to be smarted than that and know you aren't going to chase down the stretch play from your backside DE spot.
  • I understand why Hundley tried to create with his legs on a 2nd and 9 right after Stanford had scored to go up 14-10. He is electric when he can get through that first wave of rushers and get to the 2nd level. UCLA has won more than a few games because of Hundley making those kind of plays. But Jordon James is just sitting in the flat by himself as a check down. That is a guaranteed 5 yards and maybe more since James can make a man miss in space. Has to be able to make that decision at the next level.
  • There was an AWFUL!!! missed offsides penalty on Stanford. Their DE is standing even with Connor McDermott pointing at him, as if to say he twitched for a false start. Hundley throws up a deep ball with no thought because he is assuming it is a free play. The pass goes incomplete, the flag goes unthrown and UCLA has to punt after a incompletion on 3rd and 9. This was that ball where it looked like Lucien broke in and Hundley threw outside. But Hundley clearly was just throwing it up on the off chance of a TD, knowing he would have a 3rd and 5 play upcoming regardless. Worst non-call of the game. Could have been the difference in the way the 1st half ended, to be honest.

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

1. Offsides by Deon Hollins. Easy call, gets a jump on the snap. One of the few times that a defensive lineman actually won a 1-on-1 situation in a pass rushing situation.But, he didn't actually win because he was offsides.

2. Myles Jack lines up in the neutral zone while he is covering a slot WR. This is a dumb play by Jack. You can't play press coverage on the line if a WR is not on the line of scrimmage. Mental  awareness needs to be higher. Negated a stop on 3rd down that had nothing to do with this part of the play.

3.Illegal hands to the face on Owa. Stanford got the 1st down anyway, but this was deserved. He gets sealed and goes right to the face on the RT.

4. Pass interference on Tahaan Goodman. Easy call.

5. Defensive holding on Ishmael Adams. Easy call, away from the ball. Gets declined.

4.) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game?

This is technically only 30 minutes, but I thought the team as a whole seemed a little bit listless. I can't praise the effort level or the energy level.

This makes no sense at all because UCLA NEEDED TO WIN TO HAVE A CHANCE AT THE F'ING PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP AND F'ING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

These things were both still alive for UCLA in their final regular season game and they got outscored 21-10 by Stanford in the first half. A Stanford team that had nothing on the line in this game outplayed UCLA on the field and outcoached UCLA's coaches on the sideline.

5.) Do our players execute?

General Observations:

  • The first drive on offense was a thing of beauty. Quick, efficient, good play calls. Hit Thomas Duarte on a skinny post for about 15, easy 8-yard run by Paul Perkins, quick screen to Devin Fuller outside to get the 1st down, 6 yard run on 1st down by Perkins, take advantage of Stanford biting on the screen to hit Duarte on a slant for a TD pass. Watching that drive makes it so much more unusual that UCLA did not score another TD for the next 55 minutes.
  • Christian McCaffrey is a huge mismatch for Kenny Young. He should not have been asked to try and handle him in man coverage. Easy completion on Stanford's 2nd drive.
  • Brett Hundley misses high on an out route on 3rd and short. Route was there for Duarte with a little separation. Not a terrible throw, but Hundley is better than that.
  • UCLA gets bailed out after a bad punt by Matt Mengel. Kicked a low line drive beyond the coverage and gave McCaffrey a ton of room to work with. This was a huge return that got negated by a dumb penalty on Stanford. Also a total whiff on an open field tackle by Carl Hulcick.
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa blows up a TE, FB and destroys a 1st and 10 run for Stanford. Results in a TFL for Kendricks, but Owa was the star on that play.
  • Beautiful 3rd down conversion by Brett Hundley on UCLA's first drive of the 2nd quarter. Has pressure, but keeps his eyes downfield as he escapes the pocket. Finds Mossi Johnson on a crossing route for a nice gain.
  • Alex Redmond gets his face crossed on a 3rd and 1 that UCLA really needed in the 2nd quarter. Deep in Stanford territory. If he gets even a piece of defender, Perkins gets the 1st. It is well blocked outside of this. Redmond gets bailed out by Perkins' second effort, but still a bad sign of things to come.
  • Jordon James with a stuff on a lead block for Perkins around the edge. I am a big fan of the two back sets when they do creative stuff like that.
  • Props to Stanford on picking up a blitz as well as I have seen any OL pick up an interior blitz on a 3rd and 4 they converted at the end of the first half. UCLA sends 4 guys to the A-gaps and they get swallowed up. Impressive to watch even if it was at UCLA's expense.
  • Hundley misses on a 1st and 10 throw to Duarte at the end of the 1st half. Had room to work with.

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

  • Brutal drop by Devin Fuller on a 3rd down in the redzone. Hundley does an outstanding job staying in the pocket and throwing a perfect ball to the sideline for Fuller. Hits him in both hands and falls to the turf. UCLA will never take the leap unless there are players capable of making that catch on this team.
  • Takkarist McKinley shows why he is just a pass rusher at this point when he gets baffled by a QB keep on a zone read. Whiffs in open field on a player he is much faster than. Hogan picks up a first down.
  • Missed tackles on near sacks by Ankou and Odighizuwa on the same drive. One resulted in a short run, one resulted in a long TD pass to give Stanford a 21-10 lead at the half.
  • Jacob Brendel gets mauled on Stanford's first real sack of the game on Hundley at the end of the first half. Instant move to the right beats him. Interior pressure ruins the play. Hundley actually escapes the first man as he has done countless times after breakdowns on the OL. But he gets chased down as no WR shoots open during the scramble.

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

Who played well in this first half?  You might read this and ask that.

I think Anthony Jefferson, Ellis McCarthy and Owamagbe Odighizuwa had decent halves on defense. Maybe Eric Kendricks, but he did not flash much on the 2nd viewing.

The offensive line was decent actually. Not a ton of pressure on Hundley and a good looking ground game for the most part. Some blown assignment really hurt UCLA though, so it wasn't a performance without serious errors.

Hundley was much better on 2nd viewing. Only real mistakes he made was not checking down to Jordon James on that 2nd and 9 play where he tried to escape through the middle of the pocket and on that 3rd down throw to Duarte.

Paul Perkins was steady as always but did not get enough touches to really have an impact.

FIrst Half Grade Card for the Stanford Cardinal

1.) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play? D+ (1.3)

2.) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard? C- (1.7)

3.) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times? C- (1.7)

4.) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game? D (1.0)

5.) Do our players execute? D+ (1.3)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field? B- (2.7)

Stanford GPA: D (1.6)

The second half Eye Test will be on the way shortly with a final GPA. Here's a hint, it will also not be very pretty.

Even with this, the ending is always the same.

Go Bruins!