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UCLA Football: UC Berkeley Post-Game Roundtable

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The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 37-7 victory over the UC Berkeley Golden Bears

NCAA Football: UCLA at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
  1. It’s the first win of the season! What was your initial impression of the game?

Markybcool: The combination of finally playing a not so good football team, and the Bruins improving equalled a pretty convincing win. It was really nice to see the defense play like that since over the last couple of years we have been witness to some defensive football that has sometimes been simply unwatchable.

AnteatersandBruins: We finally played a complete game. Not a game with bright spots here and there, or a game where we saw potential that could maybe turn into something great one day, but a game where we took control for 60 minutes and didn’t let up. We even made it to garbage time at the end and subbed in Matt Lynch. When was the last time we pulled our QB because we were WINNING?

Andrew_Goodman3: How does Cal have 3 wins this season? Wow, they looked a lot worse than the 1-5 UCLA Bruins. Overall, it was a pretty much the perfect performance for a reeling Bruins squad. Gotta give major props to the O-Line, they did a fantastic job protecting DTR, and opening up running lanes. They’ve improved each passing week.

orlandobruin: My first impression was being excited about the future of a 1-5 team. Probably for the first time in my life. As for this season, it would still take a miracle to become bowl eligible. But I think that this team will compete in every remaining game. Oregon worries me. All the other games seem within grasp if the Bruins play well and get a few bounces their way.

Dimitri Dorlis: I’m pretty sure my thoughts are pretty well-known at this point. Suffice to say, while I would have loved to see it happen earlier, I’m glad the Bruins were at least able to notch a victory over Berkeley, continuing UCLA’s streak of Ws against the Golden Bears this year. Plus, it was good experience for the team to see what a lesser public university looked like.

2. The offense moved the ball at will against a defense that entered the game ranked 6th in defensive S&P+. What stood out the most to you?

Markybcool: The growth of the offensive line and the holes they provided Kelley to run through, and also the time they provided Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Speaking of DTR, he played another solid game, and even sprinkled in some runs that so many people were clamoring that he start doing more often.

AnteatersandBruins: I’m pretty sure if you Google “Beast Mode” today, it will link you to Joshua Kelley’s ever growing stats. We not only have a run game, but we didn’t see oue quarterback running for his life. Our run game was working so well DTR only threw 15 passes (and hit on 13 of them, so there’s that too). Boss Tagaloa had yet another great game and really anchored the line. I’m glad he was moved over.

Andrew_Goodman3: You’ll only go as far as the O-Line takes you, and we saw evidence of that in UCLA’s 37-7 victory. UCLA made a mockery of UW’s vaunted D-Line, and pretty much did the same with UC Berkeley’s defensive front. I also loved seeing DTR get in on the action with his legs! That was a new niche.

orlandobruin: If you have been following the Bruins, I think that you could have predicted a strong outing in the run game. I did, and I highlighted Kelley and the offensive line in the Pregame Guesses article before the game. Although Berkeley was ranked 6th in defensive S&P+, the unit was only 60th against the run in the NCAAs (out of 129 teams). It showed, and an improving O-line and Kelley dominated the Golden Bear defensive line.

Dimitri Dorlis: The offensive line has been talked about a few times already, so I’ll focus on a group we haven’t talked about here: the wide receivers. Specifically, the wide receiver rotation has gotten way shorter, and that’s benefited everyone by getting guys into rhythm. And really, this was Caleb Wilson’s prospective-NFL highlight film, because he did everything in this game.

3. The defense, which has been maligned in recent weeks, forced 5 turnovers and held UC Berkeley to 7 points. Again, what stood out to you here?

Markybcool: I was worried about McIlwain a lot, as I think I have PTSD from last year’s Arizona UCLA game where Khalil Tate ran for like 500 yards against us. And not that McIlwain is Tate, but there was some concern on my end as to how we would contain him. Not only did UCLA contain him, they shut both him and Laird down, and made the Bears look like not a very good offensive team, wait they’re not.

AnteatersandBruins: Berkeley is known for their turnovers, but we really shut down their run game and disrupted their passing game. McIlwain actually had more yards than DTR, but barely completed half of his passes and Laird had under 100 yards.

Andrew_Goodman3: The Bruins totally manhandled the Golden Bears, and I was very impressed with how they were able to bottle up RB Patrick Laird. Remember, Laird ran wild against the Bruins last season. Also, forcing 5 turnovers is no small feat. McIlwain made a lot of bad reads, but credit to UCLA’s defense for flying around and making plays. A lot of the young guys showed out.

orlandobruin: I am not going to go overboard here. Yes, the defense only allowed seven points. But Berkeley’s back up QB was awful and, even before the game, had a propensity to turn the ball over (he had two pick sixes in the immediately preceding game). I agree with Andrew that UCLA’s “bottling up” of Patrick Laird was a pleasant surprise. Lucier-South certainly had the game of his UCLA career, so I’ll go with him.

Dimitri Dorlis: Yeah, it’s hard to say this was an amazing performance by the defense, considering UC Berkeley’s offense is really, really bad. So I guess I’ll just say it was nice to see the coaching staff recognize what they needed to do to secure the victory, and the players execute on that strategy almost perfectly. If that continues going forward, the defense could improve rapidly.

4. We’re now at the halfway point of the season. Obviously it hasn’t been what any of us expected, but how are you feeling about it? Positives, negatives?

Markybcool: Regardless of what everybody has said here and other places about play calling, benching DTR, schemes, etc. The Bruins have 100% played hard each week, and that is a testament to the players and coaches and something that I have enjoyed watching. I have also enjoyed the overall improvement of the team. They are getting better, and that means the coaches are coaching them up, and that is great for the future of UCLA Football. The negative is that the fans and players had to endure a start that none of us have ever seen as UCLA Bruins fans.

AnteatersandBruins: Stick with Chip and you shall be rewarded. We have irrational fan bases in just about all L.A. sports. If you aren’t winning, you should be fired, whether it’s game two or year two. We need to learn to calm down and roll with the punches. There is a method to the madness, and we have seen that materialize in the last two games. Curve of the hockey stick people, curve of the hockey stick!!! It’s nowhere but up from here.

Andrew_Goodman3: I’m actually quite pleased with how the Bruins have played this season. You look at their record and might think I’m crazy, but the noticeable improvement on both sides of the ball each week is hard to ignore. Plus, UCLA’s opponents this season have each individually had successful seasons thus far. It’s easy to quit when you’re 0-5, but the Bruins kept fighting which tells us a lot about how the players respond to Chip Kelly and the coaching staff. Woohoo!!!

orlandobruin: As I said above, it’s the best I’ve ever felt about a 1-5 team, that is for sure. UCLA is hopefully trending up. Now, with Khalil Tate gone this weekend, I kind of feel that UCLA should win this game. That would not have been the case two or three weeks ago.

Dimitri Dorlis: I don’t know, really. I’m still not nearly as excited as I was at the beginning of the season, but that excitement is less because of the on-field stuff and more because of the off-field, specifically recruiting. UCLA’s recruiting efforts this far have been pretty anemic, both in terms of results and the rumblings that multiple outlets have mentioned regarding recruiting effort by this coaching staff. It’s great that Kelly and the staff are taking their time to identify the “right recruit”, but if you don’t bother to put any effort in once you’ve identified that recruit, then what is the point of that initial effort? Maybe it gets better the closer we get to Signing Day, but with all of the “coaching staff is focusing on 2020” talk, I’m not optimistic.

As far as the on-field stuff, it’s fine. The defense does way more things that make me happy compared to last year, and I’m still willing to give the offense a chance, even though I’m unconvinced the strategy will have long-term success (ask me about this again after the Utah game).

5. The Extra Point - Sound off!

Markybcool: By my high level mathematical computation skills, I can extrapolate that the Bruins continue to advance towards my 6-6 preseason prediction. They need to go 5-1 in their final six games. Difficult task.

AnteatersandBruins: I really think we’ve shaken off the bad juju from the last few coaching eras. Yes, I’m calling it here. Chip has disrupted the order in Westwood so much that we have not only strung together two quality games in a row (when was the last time that happened?), but we traveled to Berkeley and looked great, when in years past, we’d either barely win or lose miserably. One thing that isn’t really being talked about is the fact that we haven’t won a road game since 2016--this wasn’t just breaking a losing streak for the season, but for the last two years. Chip has really torn things down, and now he’s building them back up. I think if you’re able to have some patience and hang with this team, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and glad you stuck around.

Andrew_Goodman3: BRING ON THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS!!!!

orlandobruin: It is kind of an exciting time to be a UCLA football fan. With all the young talent getting experience this early in their collegiate careers, the Bruins can only get better, right?

Dimitri Dorlis: When UCLA let Noel Mazzone leave in 2016, I was upset. Not that he was leaving, mind you, but that he was leaving for Texas A&M, who just happened to be UCLA’s first opponent in 2016, and also a game I was traveling to watch. He stuck around through 2017, but once that game ended, I was excited because I thought it meant I was done having to watch his offense in person. Of course, I happen to live in the worst hell imaginable, so of course when Kevin Sumlin was hired at Arizona, he brought Mazzone with him, and of course UCLA hosts Arizona this year, and of course I’m going to be at that game. 7 years of watching a Noel Mazzone offense in person. Someone put me out of my misery please.