The “P” word. That special word that all Bruins fans have been relegated to look at when examining this UCLA Bruins team. That “P” word is, “progress”. Can we just see glimpses of progress that will give fans hope as we look forward to 2019? That is what fans are looking for.
After seeing almost no signs of progress against Utah and Oregon, there were some signs of progress last week against Arizona State and, if there were ever a week where Bruins fans wanted to see progress, it was this week’s game against a pretty bad Southern Cal Trojans team, as the Trojans were coming off a pretty anemic performance in a 14-13 loss to UC Berkeley.
The first half of UCLA football was pretty solid on the offensive side of the ball, as the Bruins out-gained the Trojans in total yards 269-257. However, the two areas that have made Bruins fans scream this year resulted in 21 points for Southern Cal. First, the Trojans scored 14 points directly or indirectly via special teams plays. Second, a huge missed tackle by a Quentin Lake resulted in a Velus Jones Jr. touchdown on a play that should have only resulted in a small gain.
With that being said, the Bruins were in the game at the half and only down 24-21, and they received the second half kickoff. UCLA was on a nice drive to start the second half, but the Bruins picked a bad time for their first turnover. Wilton Speight dropped back and looked deep for Demetric Felton, but Isaiah Langley intercepted it. Felton did not do a good job of fighting for the ball, but the interception gave the Trojans their first possession of the half.
The Trojans turned that UCLA turnover into points, as JT Daniels made a couple of big plays on the Southern Cal’s first drive, with a completion to Michael Pittman Jr. for 37 yards being the big one. However, the Bruins defense did hold the Trojans to a 22-yard field goal and put Southern Cal up 27-21 at the mid-way point of the third quarter.
The third quarter saw the Trojans become a little more balanced on the offensive side of the ball as they gained a total of 149 yards, with 88 coming through the air and 66 coming on the ground. The Bruins only managed 54 total yards on offense during the quarter.
You have to love rivalries, and there was a hope that this little antic by the Trojans would pump up the Bruins to start the 4th quarter, and the Bruin it pumped up the most was UCLA’s Joshua Kelley. As Kelley’s four carries on the next drive accounted for 71 yards of UCLA’s 97-yard drive. The big carry was Kelley’s 55-yard TD run that put the Bruins up 28-27 early in the fourth quarter.
Then on Southern Cal’s next possession, first play, Daniels dropped back and threw an absolutely horrible pass that was picked off by Darnay Holmes at the UCLA 41 yard line.
Speight wasted no time moving the Bruins down the field, and giving Kelley a little rest, as he hit Caleb Wilson for a 15-yard completion and then Pabico for 11 yards to quickly get the Bruins down to the Trojans’ 24-yard line. On a big 3rd down play, Southern Cal was flagged for holding Kelley on a pass play that set up 1st a goal for the Bruins. However, the Bruins were denied on 3rd and 2 as a play action pass play was sniffed out by the Trojans and Speight’s pass to Devin Asiasi was defended. JJ Molson hit a 19-yard field goal to put the Bruins up 31-27 with 6:19 left in the game.
UCLA’s defense stepped up huge and held the Trojans on their next possession. Krys Barnes made the big play of the drive as he tackled Vavae Malepeai for a loss of 4 yards and forced a Trojan punt.
The Bruins weren’t able to gain much on their next drive and were forced to kick a 48-yard field goal to extend their lead 34-27 with 2:41 remaining in the game.
This set up the Trojans for their last attempt to drive down the field and tie the game. The Bruins defense once again stepped up and held on 4th down as Daniels’ pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown was deflected and the Bruins went into celebration mode.
- Joshua Kelley is a monster that deserves EVERYTHING he gets and today he got 40 rushing attempts for 289 yards. One of the single greatest Bruin performances ever. 40 carries people...insane! Heisman 2019 watch!
- No matter the game this year, no matter the score, the Bruins have fought hard every single game. That’s a testament to the players and the coaches.
- The offensive line has been the most obvious unit on the Bruins to show that “P” word. The progress they are making is really exciting. Speight had time to throw, although there was some pressure, and Kelley had room to obviously run.
- Speight managed a good game and made some nice throws. He was definitely a reason the Bruins won today and deserves to finish out this season as the starting quarterback.
- Theo Howard and Caleb Wilson were major contributors today.
- JT Daniels had all day to throw the ball, and that was both good for the Bruins and bad at other times.
- Chip’s clock management to end the first half was questionable to say the least. There were a couple of times that Chip could have called timeouts. However, not calling a timeout after the completion to Wilson was horrible.
- On the positive, Chip called a pretty solid game overall, and pushed the right buttons.
- While our defensive backs were forced to cover for long periods of time, they made some plays when given the opportunity. While the interceptions were horrible throws, plays still had to be made.
I know there are a lot of thoughts on this game, and I definitely am looking forward to reading yours below Bruins Nation. SO SOUND OFF!! WE BEAT $c!
UCLA’s last game of the year comes next Saturday, November 24th when they face the Stanford Cardinal at Noon PT.