1. UCLA ran for 142 yards on the day, making it the 5th time in 7 games this season that the Bruins have run for over 100 yards. I know that’s a rather low bar to clear, but after last year, that’s a huge amount of progress. What has changed from last year for this unit?
AnteatersandBruins: I feel like there has been individual improvement on the line and a new line coach that has made a difference. Scott Quessenberry seems more confident, and although Kolton Miller is struggling quite a bit (at least it appears he is) the other changes in personnel are at least making up for it. Sunny Odogwu brought a lot of experience and I saw his jersey on the field on Saturday as well. Additionally, not losing your quarterback will just instill more confidence in the unit as a whole.
Markybcool: Having Josh Rosen healthy for the entire year so far definitely makes the offense better and less predictable, although with the team behind and passing all the time that makes you pretty predictable too.
However, the offensive line, which I thought would be our biggest achilles heel, has actually not been that bad. They have given Rosen time to complete passes, and I actually think that the running game has slightly improved, with our running backs averaging pretty healthy yards per attempt. Lastly, I have also said this all year, we can talk about coaching, and the inability of our coaching staff to make players better, but I think Coach Fisch and Coach Fraley have done a pretty good job overall. If the Bruins even had a semblance of defense this year, and this offense was how it currently is, there would be way more praise being thrown about for Coach Fisch. With that being said, I would not be shocked if he turned up on some head coaching short lists for next year.
Dimitri Dorlis: I think this group is just playing with more confidence in general. The line is working together as a cohesive unit, and the running backs are finding the holes quicker, and running with more confidence. It probably helps that, with Rosen back, teams are forced to overcompensate on defending the pass, but this team is more improved over where they were last year with Rosen in terms of running offense.
Joe Piechowski: The new offensive coaches have stressed attention to detail and they have focused on the little things and it’s clearly making a difference in the offense in general.
2. Continuing with the offense, who are some of the unsung heroes who have really stepped up to the plate in terms of performance?
AnteatersandBruins: We haven’t talked much about receivers this year, but it is very obvious that we have made major strides in this area. There was nothing but complaining about dropped passes last year (even before Rosen was injured), so we need to give these guys credit for improving so much.
Markybcool: I will stick with the offensive line. They have had some injuries (Kenny Lacy out for the year), but they have still done a pretty solid job.
Dimitri Dorlis: I wrote this question specifically so I could give a shout out to all of the new blood on the offensive coaching staff. Jedd Fisch (rightly) gets a ton of credit for turning the offense around, and for helping Josh Rosen realize his potential, but you also need to give credit to Hank Fraley with the offensive line, Jimmie Dougherty with the wide receivers, and DeShaun Foster with the running backs for turning each of those units around. And of course, credit to the only remaining offensive coach from last year, Rip Scherer, for having the tight ends look like a strength of the team.
Joe Piechowski: I agree with Dimitri. The offensive coaches have earned a lot of credit for turning the offense around so quickly. The offense was a major concern heading into the season and it’s become the team’s saving grace.
3. Out of 10, how would you rate Bolu Olorunfunmi’s touchdown run?
AnteatersandBruins: 10. I think the gymnastics team would agree. But we’re all glad he didn’t break his neck.
Markybcool: Since he didn’t stick the landing and pretty much stuck his neck into the turf, I have to give him a 9.9. However, I LOVE when players sell out like that. Bolu ran that ball, in the words of the great Kevin Harlan, “With no regards for human life!” That’s including his own.
Dimitri Dorlis: 4.5. Olorunfunmi earned deductions for improper feet placement, he didn’t tuck in during his roll, and an improper landing (I really hope everyone gets this joke and doesn’t think I disliked the jump).
Joe Piechowski: Bolu literally stood on a defender’s head! The degree of difficulty alone earns him a 10.
4. Let’s give some credit here: the defense held Oregon to 14 points, which is the lowest point total they’ve allowed all season. Oregon isn’t great, but it still technically counts as progress. Was there anything in this game that made you think this unit could play better consistently?
AnteatersandBruins: I might not be too quick to credit the defense, as Oregon’s defense is better than their offense. The return of Jaelan Phillips made a huge difference as well. But we have GOT to know who the play makers are on the ground and guard those guys. The double digit breakout runs are getting annoying.
Markybcool: No, add Oregon to the long list of teams that ran on us pretty much at will.
Dimitri Dorlis: Well....Far be it from me to be a sunshine pumper, but there were some schematic and personnel changes that did seem to have a positive effect, especially with the defense becoming more aggressive. They might not be consistently good, but if they can raise up the aggressiveness, cause more negative plays and turnovers, that could be enough to help the offense out.
Joe Piechowski: I prefer to wait and see. We should know in a few days when the team faces Washington.
5. Let’s give the specialists some love - who has been your special teams MVP so far?
AnteatersandBruins: I’m still going with J.J. Molson. That guy is so much more solid than last year. If the team has a most improved award and he doesn’t get it, I’m going to protest in front of Wasserman.
Markybcool: Both of our kickers have done a solid job this year.
Dimitri Dorlis: Stefan Flintoft has added an average of 2 yards to his punts this year, with an increase of hangtime to go with it. Flintoft has become a weapon for the Bruins, which is good because the team could use as many weapons as they can to help the defense out.
Joe Piechowski: My special teams MVP so far has been Jedd Fisch. “Wait...what?” you ask. Fisch is the guy who is responsible for making the offense much, much less conservative, resulting in fewer punts and field goals attempts than any other season under Jim Mora. Our NeverKick percentage is WAAAAAY up. So, in that respect, Fisch is my Special Teams MVP.
But, if I’m going to choose an actual player, I’m going with Flintoff. While both he and Molson have improved significantly, Flintoff has been pinning opponents deep in the own territory an awful lot. So, he gets it.
6. The Extra Point - Sound off!
AnteatersandBruins: We’re going to Washington this weekend, so I’m just going to enjoy this win and pray for an upset. You never know.
Markybcool: The unpredictable nature of college football from week to week has made the year interesting. This year in college football has already provided some pretty big upsets. ASU beating UW sure did not help our chances of surprising Washington and joining the upset party. I’m hesitant to believe that our defense will be able to disrupt the balanced UW offensive attack, but THAT IS WHY THEY PLAY THE GAME!
Dimitri Dorlis: This has nothing to do with football, but I couldn’t find a way to sneak this into the Eye Test, so I’m putting it here. I taped the game so I could watch the replay a few times, and by far the biggest highlight for me was the surprise of seeing my favorite current UCLA basketball player, GG Goloman, get a PAC Profile. THAT HIGH SCHOOL PICTURE! HOPE Y’ALL ARE READY FOR THE BASKETBALL RECAPS TO ONLY BE ABOUT GG THE GOD THIS YEAR!
Joe Piechowski: I’ll be sure to ignore the contributions of Hands, Wilkes, Welsh, Aaron Holiday and Prince Ali when writing this year’s basketball recaps. Speaking of which, is it basketball season yet?