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The "Eye Test" Special Spring Showcase Edition: Bruins Win, Bruins Lose

Grading out the finer details of UCLA Bruins' (Blue Team) 28-0 victory over the UCLA Bruins (White Team).

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It's been too long. 117 days since the last UCLA football game.

It will be quite a few more before there is a game that actually counts, but the Spring Showcase was enough to try and hold us all over until we start getting stir crazy in July or so.

Seeing UCLA a few times this spring in person helped me out, but that's not the case for everyone so I'm putting together a "Eye Test" for a game with ridiculous rules that didn't count and didn't have live contact on special teams or on the quarterbacks.

I have to say this at the risk of offending anyone who feels differently about Chris Roberts:

The announcing team for UCLA is absolutely atrocious. Getting players names wrong regularly, not paying attention to the action, trying to get the crowd excited about a player returning to action immediately after he committed a penalty.

So bad. Music would have been a drastic improvement or just silence.

Need to also say this before evaluating the offensive or defensive performances:

The "red jerseys" on the QBs is sensible and every team should do it for the spring (I think Michigan State had a QB come off the field after getting hit in their full-contact Spring Game). But the referees seemed to take the "tag off" rule a little too seriously as every QB had sacks called on plays where the defenders had zero chance of making a play.

Anyway, let's get to the grades (more so the general observations from watching live and a DVR recording):

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

Some observations first from both teams.

White Team (1st Team Defense):

1st Series: Myles Jack had a TFL on a swing pass to Jordon James. Owamagbe Odighizuwa beats Caleb Benenoch four times on the first series (lined up offsides once), used a variety of moves, both speed and power. But he also dropped into coverage and did an awful job dropping into his zone, was the reason for a Lucien reception. Kenneth Clark blew by Brendel. There was a "Sack" by Zach Vinci that in no way, shape or form should have counted.

2nd series: Owa gets a "sack" battling through Benenoch, the ball was away before contact happened. Priest Willis dogs Payton for four plays in man coverage, then gets burnt on a double move by Payton and a cheap PI the next play. Being a defensive back is tough sometimes.

3rd series: Nice TFL by Ryan Hofmeister on a swing pass to James. Showed great instincts to get there so quickly.

4th series: Owa has another pass rush off the edge again. Caleb will not enjoy watching the first half on tape.

5th series: PBU by Hofmeister with tight coverage on Mossi Johnson, the INT by Adams gifted by a bad throw.

6th series: Bad zone drop by Librado Baracio on 2nd and 8. Gave up the inside way too easy. Zach Vinci catches Malcolm Bunche off guard for a sack. Sack by Ellis McCarthy on a stunt doesn't count for some reason. Would have murdered Faufal in a real game, great job sucking up three blockers by Owa. Solid pass breakup by Fabian Moreau, breaks on an out route by Payton.

7th series: Priest Willis and Anthony Jefferson blanket Lucien down the sideline. Adams breaks off of Payton in man coverage. Willis locks down Lucien in single coverage with half the field to himself.

8th series: Ellis McCarthy manhandles Manfro on a read option. Owa manhandles Caleb for another sack off the edge, while McCarthy does the same to Kenny Lacy inside.

9th series: Fabian Moreau is on Lucien's hip on a drag route, tackling him for a 1-yard gain.

I'd give the 1st team defense a B (3.0). They got a ton of pressure from everywhere on the defensive line. The walk-on defensive backs and defensive lineman that gave rest to the starters got exploited by Payton and Lucien and in the running game. Not overly concerned with the 28 points.

Blue Team (2nd Team Defense):

1st series: Eli Ankou had a great bull rush. Deon Hollins with an edge pressure.

2nd series: Solid play, no flash but made Faufal look lost.

3rd series: Tahaan Goodman working fast downhill on a running play. Big hit.

4th series: Isaako Savaiinaea much smoother reading plays and acting on what he sees, Deon Hollins with a sack off the edge

5th series: PBU by Jayon Brown to save a TD pass to Ahmad Harris. Deon Hollins and Eli Ankou get pressure off the edge and get a sack. Kylie Fitts forces Woulard to leave the pocket early with a nice pass rush, great coverage on 4th down and long.

6th series: Deon Hollins starts the 2nd half with a sack and another edge pressure on 3rd down to make Woulard step up in the pocket and scramble. Made Colby Cyburt look bad all game.

7th series: Not a long series. First play interception by Adarius Pickett in a Cover 2. Easy pick and a nice runback after the interception.

8th series: Deon Hollins gets a sack stolen from him. Beats Cyburt inside, unabated to Neuheisel but there's no whistle. Isaako makes two solid tackles in a row. PBU by Justin Combs, makes a quick break on a slant. Sack by Kevin McReynolds on a stunt. Marcus Rios blanketed Kenny Walker the entire drive, which isn't that tough with the quality of routes I watched him run all game. PBU by Charles Dawson, nice play.

9th series: Jayon Brown big TFL on a 3rd and 2. Then blows up a guard on 4th down along with Savaiinaea.

I'd give the 2nd team defense an A (4.0) easily. They made the offensive line look bad on the edges and were solid in coverage.

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

I'll focus on Brett Hundley's only drive of the game and then give a general overview of the rest of the game.

Brett Hundley (1st Team Offense):
  • First play was under center, a look that the Bruins worked on quite a bit in practices and Hundley fired a laser to Eldridge Massington (or Mossi Johnson if you'd believe Chris Roberts and not the #82 on the field) on a 12-yard comeback route to the sideline.
  • Then a quick hitch to Jordan Payton (though he had Jordon James wide open out of the backfield a wheel route)
  • Third play, Hundley does a great job breaking down a Cover 3 to find Devin Lucien open on the sideline from the opposite hash. Good ball and smart decision making.
  • Hits Jordon James on that wheel route, but James drops it. Probably a TD. Well thrown ball with a lot of velocity.
  • Good read on a read-option for a first down by Perkins.
  • Completion to Massington on a "sack" by Zach Vinci where he was totally washed out by Malcolm Bunche, but put an outstretched hand on Hundley's back.
  • Offsides drawn by hard count by Hundley, gotten a lot better at that.
  • Gets legit sacked by Owa off the edge, and then pressured up through the pocket by Owa into Ellis McCarthy for a "sack" while Ellis had his back turned on a 3rd and long.
  • I give Brett Hundley's offense a B+ (3.3). He got victimized by the quick whistles but looked great in the short time he was out there.
Blue Team (1st Team Offense):

For the rest of the game, it was Jerry Neuheisel and (in the 2nd half briefly) Mike Faufal on the Blue Team at QB. As was the theme with the QBs besides Hundley, they alternated between looking good and making me scratch or shake my head.
  • Jerry's first passing attempt was called off by a "sack" but he missed two insanely open guys underneath and hopped until he got touched at the same moment he finally saw Jalen Ortiz on a drag route with no defender near him.
  • On the next play, he goes the other way and wisely checks away from underneath passes for a chance at a deep crossing route by Devin Lucien, nice throw to get a big gain.
  • Threw a bad pass on a swing, followed by a quick decision on a curl to Sam Handler.
  • The highlight of Jerry's day was a deep throw to a wide-open Jordan Payton after a double-move on Willis gave Jerry tons of space to work with. Second highlight would be a nice back shoulder throw to Lucien in between Anthony Jefferson and Erick Zumwalt.
  • Lowlights was pretty much the rest of the game after that TD drive. Threw a really bad interception at the end of the first half where he broke the cardinal rule (late over the middle, across his body) to Ishmael Adams. His second interception might have been worse. I've replayed it five times and saw it live and still can't figure out what led him to believe he could make that throw against a Cover 2. Passed up a wide open Ahmad Harris to throw into coverage down the sideline.
Steven Manfro looked good running and catching the ball, decisive on his cuts and running through arm tackles. Definitely had the best day of any running back.

Paul Perkins ran for a short TD, looked alright overall. Had a nice run after the catch on a swing where he always looks good.

Jordon James was non-existent outside of a short TD run where he beat Owa to the corner off a block by Benenoch (one of his few highlights on the day) and a brutal drop on a wheel route.

Jordan Payton had a good day throughout, the highlight was that post-corner for a big game. He played much more physical than he showed in 2013. Devin Lucien had a decent day as well, but got helped out by bad zone coverage against walk-on corners twice for catches.

I give the Blue Team offense a B (3.0).

White Team (2nd Team Offense):

Asiantii Woulard started in the first half, but interchanged series with Mike Faufal in the first and watched the 2nd half as Neuheisel and Jake Hall took almost every rep with the White Team.

Woulard, like Neuheisel and Faufal (to a lesser extent), alternated between looking sharp as hell and then equally as bad.
His first series tells the story near perfectly.
  • He hits Kenny Walker and Craig Lee back-to-back to get a quick first down.
  • Then he overthrows a wide open Logan Sweet by at least 10 yards.
  • Then he goes the other way, throwing an exceptional pass while stepping into pressure on a slant to Tyler Scott (probably the 2nd best throw of the game behind Faufal's deep ball to Sweet).
  • Overall, his numbers really get hurt by four drops (back-to-back drops by Craig Lee on catchable throws and two more later in the first half by Tyler Scott after excellent ball placement on the run to the sideline and a second on a deep ball down the sideline that would have been a 40 yard gain).
Craig Lee looked mostly great, explosive and physical with the ball in his hands; but had bad moments (namely dropping two straight passes). No running back on the roster looks as talented as Lee, but he has a ways to go still.

The 2nd team offensive line was brutal. Can't put it any other way. The 2nd string defensive line is lightyears ahead of the 2nd team offensive line in athleticism and technique. Not a good look on tape.

Mike Faufal certainly had the best throw of the day, on a deep ball down the sideline to Logan Sweet. He looked lost on his first series and had quite a few bad throws throughout the game that didn't look as bad in person as they did on film.

White offense did not play well, but not as bad as the 0 in the score would indicate. I give them a C- (1.7).

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

The officials were not shy about whistling plays dead or throwing flags. Here's a recap of those from both teams.

White Team (2nd Team Offense, 1st Team Defense): Two offsides on the first drive (Owa, Zach Vinci), extremely iffy Pass Interference call on Priest Willis, two false starts on the offense

Blue Team (1st Team Offense, 2nd Team Defense): False start by Caleb, hands to the face by someone on the offensive line, ineligible man downfield on Jacob Brendel as Neuheisel left the pocket, personal foul on the same play by Manfro, offensive pass interference on Kenny Walker.

Some other things to note:
There was a play where all 4-down linemen on the Blue Team sniffed out a screen pass to Lee instantly. Well coached 2nd team line.
The reverse to Kenny Walker on the opening kickoff of the 2nd half was a neat curveball to throw out there. He has the speed to make an impact but that's all he has at this point, in my opinion.

I'd give the team an overall grade of a C (2.0) here. That's about the season average the last few years on penalties in a game. Disappointing to see those issues arise even in a game that doesn't count. Can't get a boost from special teams play because it wasn't a genuinely live atmosphere for that.

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

White Team (2nd Team Offense, 1st Team Defense): A (4.0)

Blue Team (1st Team Offense, 2nd Team Defense): A (4.0)

5.) Do our players execute?

Both offenses and defenses were pretty vanilla, but that allowed for a lot of evaluating of the little things. I'll share some good things and some bad things that I noticed.

White Team (2nd Team Offense, 1st Team Defense):
Bad: Owa dropped into zone coverage on the first drive and stopped about 10 yards before he should have and that directly lead to a completion for a first down. The really bad overthrow by Woulard to Sweet down the sideline. The back-to-back dropped passes by Craig Lee. One play where Faufal runs out of the pocket for no reason without any pressure. Two drops by Tyler Scott on one drive. Miss on a FG attempt by Sean Covington. Bigger issue for me is why is the punter kicking the only FG opportunity of the game? Terrible pass and a worse decision by Neuheisel throwing a floater to the sideline against Cover 2. Doesn't have the arm strength to warrant thinking about that throw.

Good: Pass rush on the edges throughout. Ishmael Adams looked good on kickoff returns. Great leaping catch by Andrew Huusfeldt on the sideline on a throw from Woulard. That Logan Sweet and Mike Faufal connection was pretty.

Give the White Team a B- (2.7) on excecution. The drops were brutal, the interception by Neuheisel was bad. But the defense tackled well, played well in the secondary when the 1st string players were on the field and got a lot of pressure on the QB throughout.

Blue Team (1st Team Offense, 2nd Team Defense):
Bad: Drop by James, Benenoch roasted 4 times by Owa on Drive #1, bad pass on a swing by JN,  punts by Sean Covington were outstanding downed two inside the 5,
Good: Double move by Jordan Payton on a post-corner route, back shoulder throw by JN to Lucien, Scott Quessenberry gets to the 2nd level and mauls Myles Jack on James' 2nd TD run.

I give the Blue Team an A- (3.3). I can't get over how great Owa was pass rushing and his victim was Benenoch. The interior did a solid job on Kenny Clark but Ellis got into the backfield way too easy too many times.

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

White Team (2nd Team Offense, 1st Team Defense): Owamagbe Odighizuwa was dominant. Looked like an All-Pac-12 player whenever he was on the field. First step is crazy and I totally forgot how good he is at converting speed into power as a pass rusher. Fabian Moreau was thrown at once in man coverage and made that tackle for a 1-yard gain. That's a damn good day for a cornerback. On the offensive side, maybe Craig Lee could warrant that attention if not for almost single-handedly ending a drive with two drops. Zero points gets almost zero praise. B (3.0)

Blue Team (1st Team Offense, 2nd Team Defense): Deon Hollins on that defense was as dominant as Owa was for the white team. Apparently he had a hip injury most of last season that held him back, but he sure looked like a different player in this game. Challenge is doing that to a starter and not a backup tackle. Isaako Savaiinaea was a monster as well, probably close to double digit tackles. Secondary was solid across the board. Tyler Foreman looked very good at safety. On offense, Jordan Payton had 9 catches. Looked like he was ready to step into Shaq Evans' role from last season as the single side WR. I thought Scott Quessenberry and Jacob Brendel both had good days inside. A (4.0) on the Blue Team.

Final Grade Card for the Spring Showcase

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

White Team (1st Team Defense): B (3.0)

Blue Team (2nd Team Defense): A (4.0)

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

Brett Hundley Offense: B+ (3.3)

White Team (2nd Team Offense): C- (1.7)

Blue Team (1st Team Offense): B (3.0)

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

UCLA: C (2.0)

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

White Team (1st Team Defense): A (4.0)

Blue Team (2nd Team Defense): A (4.0)

5.) Do our players execute?

White Team (1st Team Defense, 2nd Team Offense): B- (2.7)

Blue Team (2nd Team Defense, 1st Team Offense): A- (3.3)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

White Team (1st Team Defense, 2nd Team Offense): B (3.0)

Blue Team (1st Team Offense, 2nd Team Defense):A (4.0)

Normally, I'd tally up the GPA for each team but I am forgoing that part of the "Eye Test" to just say that the Spring Showcase was a success. Saw a lot of great things on both sides of the ball. No major injuries the entire spring. Saturday was a good day to be a supporter of UCLA football.

Go Bruins!