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UCLA Football: Texas A&M Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s wild 45-44 victory over the Aggies to start the season.

Texas A&M v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

1. So, yeah. That really happened. The Bruins pulled off a miraculous comeback to knock off the Aggies. Initial thoughts?

markybcool: Tale of two halves. 1st half we could not run block, pass block, get open, make tackles on D, pressure the QB and overall looked and played like the worst opening day UCLA team I have ever watched. Then the second half happened. Holding TAMU to FG’s on their second and third possessions of the 3rd quarter set the stage. The D started pressuring the QB, and the O made almost every single play that had to be made. Amazing game!

AnteatersandBruins: I think I was clinically dead by the end of the game. We kept wondering what lit the fire under the team because the first half looked eerily familiar. All of a sudden receivers were catching passes and the defense was stepping up. Still worried about the minimal run game.

DCBruins: I told the person I was texting during the game that I am texting her during every game this season. Not that I am superstitious. Early in the second half I was thinking: “when should we pull Rosen” to prevent him from getting beat up more. Winning was not on my mind.

orlandobruin: I had already picked out my song for Friday’s Pregame Guesses: Beck’s “Loser.” Well, that one needs to go back on the shelf (hopefully forever). Seriously, I thought that UCLA would pull a UCLA and either fall short on the last drive or allow a game winning field goal after the Bruins went up with under a minute to go. My wife went to bed at 44-10. I told her she is not allowed to watch UCLA games in the man cave anymore. She must watch from the bedroom!

Dimitri Dorlis: The amount of things that had to go right for this comeback to occur remains unbelievable. The Bruins had to succeed on essentially 5 2-minute drills, while simultaneously keeping the Aggies off the score board. Wait, sorry, not just keep the Aggies off the score board, keep the amount of time taken off the clock to a minimum. It required the right mix of skill and luck, and they somehow pulled it off.

Joe Piechowski: I’m still not quite convinced that we actually won the game.

2. Josh Rosen ended the game throwing for 491 yards and 4 touchdowns. Is it safe to say he’s pretty good at this whole football thing?

markybcool: Time and playmakers are all he needs. His skillset as a pocket passer will translate well at the next level. As a matter of fact, he might be donating money back to the university someday after his lucrative NFL career is finished just like the UCLA QB he reminds of did, Troy Aikman.

AnteatersandBruins: I’ll take yes on this one. He clearly has talent and just needs a guy on the other end he can connect with. It was kind of funny that he was looking like Tom Brady last night.

DCBruins: Rosen is not that hard to figure out. If he has time to throw he is a great college quarterback. If he doesn’t, well, things get trickier.

orlandobruin: Josh was a tackling dummy in the first half. The offensive line has to do a better job to allow him time to throw. Credit to Fisch and the offensive in the second half is they modified the offense to more quick strike plays, especially crossing routes to Caleb Wilson (remember two and three years ago when Mazzone was our offensive coordinator and the Bruins NEVER ran crossing routes? LOL.) Rosen delivered, no doubt, he proved to the country that he can sling it with the best college football has to offer, and he will do fine at the next level.

Dimitri Dorlis: Josh Rosen is not very there is no way in hell I can sell that, huh? Yeah, Rosen was unconscious in those final 20 minutes, and while he got lucky on a few throws, that luck felt like a reward for all the right decisions he made surrounding those throws. Credit also to Jedd Fisch for finding a way to keep Rosen upright, which allowed him to prove just how good he can be when given time.

Joe Piechowski: If that game doesn’t change the minds of any doubtful NFL scouts, nothing will.

3. The Bruins needed a lot of things to go right to pull off the comeback. What stood out to you the most during the second half?

markybcool: Just that UCLA kept going, even after the two field goals in the 3rd and the fact that at the 4:08 mark of the 3rd they were down 44-10. Not many teams, college or pro, look at that score and think to themselves...we can do this. Well UCLA did. I think the biggest thing that stands out to me and makes this comeback more improbable is that they did it without getting any TO’s, punt returns kick returns for TD’s. They did it ALL with their D and O.

AnteatersandBruins: Their sticktoitiveness got them the win. As bad as it was, they didn’t lie down and take the trampling. What also stood out were players like Darnay Holmes and Jaelan Phillips--young guys--that didn’t give up and kept pushing. My crew kept thinking we needed a turnover to pull it off, and they didn’t even get that. It was all grit.

DCBruins: I heard the stat that the first half was our worst first half since that Arizona loss a few years back. That game the team completely quit on Coach Rick Neuheisel. It was the beginning of the end for him and should have been the end. For all Mora’s flaws, both real and perceived, the team never quit. The defense stayed in the game and Rosen, well, nuff said.

orlandobruin: Caleb Wilson. The kid was a Godsend. More particularly, the Rosen to Wilson connection. Wilson will go down in UCLA lore (the fact that he defected from Southern Cal is a nice piece of the story too).

Dimitri Dorlis: I remain constantly impressed with Noel Mazzone’s playcalling ability. Not many coaches would chose to throw the ball at a near 50% rate when presented with a 34 point lead and a true freshman quarterback with a weak arm, but that’s why Mazzone gets paid the big bucks.

Joe Piechowski: I’ve got to give a ton of credit to the second half defense. After giving up 38 first half points, they only gave up 6 points in the second half. If either of those two field goals is a TD, we lose. Tom Bradley’s halftime adjustments made a big difference.

4. The comeback does help mask that the Bruins were awful in the first half. What does the team need to focus on the most as they get ready for Hawaii this Saturday?

markybcool: Continue to focus on how to run the ball effectively. Using tempo too. This team has a lot to focus on moving forward. It would be too simplistic after yesterday’s game to think narrow the focus...keep grinding.

AnteatersandBruins: Rosen’s arm will not last the season if he has to throw 59 passes in each game. I’m going to be optimistic and say that offensive line play will improve enough that the run game will get going and Rosen won’t be scrambling to throw the ball away like he was in the first half.

DCBruins: Play to strengths. Pass to set up the run. Protect Rosen, maybe more short quick passes. On defense, the secondary is good, maybe very good. The defensive line may be suspect. Blitz or stay away from nickel packages except in obvious situations.

orlandobruin: UCLA has to do better stopping the run. The Bruins were gashed in the first half and, really, but for the fact that Mazzone stopped calling running plays in the 4th quarter, UCLA could and should have still suffered the loss.

Dimitri Dorlis: More than anything else, the coaching staff is going to need to do some serious self-scouting regarding the flaws that were on display in that first half. The offense is going to need to figure out how to run the ball with any kind of consistency, and the defense should probably be in their base 4-3 set for the majority of plays going forward.

Joe Piechowski: The offense still needs to work on the same things we’ve spoken about all offseason. They need to protect Rosen and they need to run the ball more effectively. Defensively, we need to stop the run.

5. The Extra Point - Sound off!

markybcool: I predicted 3-0 heading into Stanford, and I am sticking with that especially after that game. This team has lots of work to do, but they gave me a game yesterday that I will remember for the rest of my life, and how many times can we as a collective Bruins Nation pretty much agree with that fact?

AnteatersandBruins: I have to give a major shoutout to J.J. Molson--he was perfect on Sunday and looked ten times better than last year. He started preparing for 2017 as soon as the 2016 season ended and it shows. He looks more poised and prepared for games, and clearly has the psychological aspect of the game under control. Other kickers may have pushed a PAT for the win, but he shot it right up the middle.

DCBruins: While the players and coaches deserve credit for never giving up, two coaches blew it and cost and almost cost their teams the game. UCLA Defensive Coordinator Bradley’s idiotic sticking to nickel defense against a team that was running us over and could not pass to save their lives for so long is very concerning. He dug a big hole and has to do a better job adjusting. Yes, they were in a spread offense but neither A & M quarterback could pass. On the other side, we have to thank Noel Mazzone. What kind of moron passes that much when you have a great running backup quarterback who can’t throw. If he ran every time he passed the ball, the clock may have run out before UCLA could win. Mazzone proved that he needed to be fired at UCLA and will likely get Sumlin fired at Texas A&M.

orlandobruin: Thank God we got rid of Mazzone. A&M fans are calling for Sumlin’s head, but Kevin Sumlin doesn’t call the offensive plays. UCLA fans know who does. On another note, from an emotional level, this is arguably the best comeback I have ever experienced as a UCLA fan. Stanford in ‘05 was great. UCLA over Gonzaga in tournament hoops in 2006 was amazing (with tons on the line--and Gus Johnson), and UCLA over Southern Cal in ‘96 (coming back from down 3 scores with less than 7 minutes to play) was sublime, especially considering the opponent. This game is right up there with them.

Dimitri Dorlis: I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, and I’m still mentally exhausted from that game. I have no idea how the team is doing, but the short turn-around may be a bigger deal than we’re letting on.

Joe Piechowski: I was prepared for a long season. It may still end up being a long season, but I certainly have more hope now than I did midway through the second quarter. With the Chosen One, all things are possible!