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UCLA Football: Oregon State Post-Game Roundtable

The writers and editors of Bruins Nation discuss UCLA’s 48-31 loss to Oregon State.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at UCLA Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

1. Initial thoughts on the game?

Shayan Saalabi: When Oregon State, the Pac-12’s benchmark of incompetence, cruises to a road win, you have to seriously re-assess the state of and overall direction of your program. Whatever Chip Kelly is trying to accomplish -- 6-6? 4-8? -- is definitely a long-shot. It was, in a word, embarrassing.

Mark Schipper: Humiliating loss both on the level of local fandom and for the program’s reputation across the country. I think UCLA football bottomed out with the way this season started, shocking everyone, even professional analysts, with its haplessness and the Bruins have been scraping along that same bottom ever since. I was telling anyone who would listen to enjoy the Wackiness at Wazzu as much as possible because it might be the most fun available to UCLA partisans all fall. I could easily be wrong about that and the football team could start coming along or pull some astonishingly improbable upset, but at this moment it might be the worst program in the Pac-12 and I never thought I would say that with a straight face about UCLA football. It’s a sad time for its mighty athletic department, its distinguished alumni, former players and coaches, and fans. I’m scared to think about what the vast bleachers at the Rose Bowl are going to look like on game days until some hope starts to emerge.

AnteatersandBruins: There were a lot more people at the game than I thought there would be, probably because people thought this might be a win. Turns out we were all wrong. I’m saddened at what this once-prominent program has become and it looks like we are actually going to be worse than last year. Oregon State’s defense is terrible and we made them look capable of beating a good SEC team.

Joe Piechowski: We may not win another game this season.

Dimitri Dorlis: I missed going to this game due to another engagement, and honestly I don’t regret that nearly as much as I normally would. Says a lot about how this season has gone.

2. The offense was generally competent with Austin Burton at the helm. What stood out about his performance and the offense in general?

Shayan Saalabi: He was better than Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but I’m not sure if that’s saying much. He was, somewhat understandably, skittish, tucking-and-running about twelve too many times. Nervousness aside, I think he did enough to deserve another start. What does Chip Kelly have to lose at this point?

Mark Schipper: The offense is moving the football, which is good, but they’re not finishing drives, which is bad. However, scoring can be the last thing to come and the offense might begin to build some real confidence in its strengths and figure that last part out. I want them to be invited into the Coffee Klatsch Club, because Coffee Is For Closers. On Saturday, they had seven more first downs than OSU (27-to-20) and an excellent third-down percentage at 12-of-19 chances converted. By the way, 27 first downs is a lot of first downs, 31 is a fair amount of points, and both generally suggest a winning offensive effort. The Bruins had more yards than OSU (492-448) and out-rushed the Beavers by nearly 100 yards (256-163) while committing zero turnovers. The penalties, thank God, were low at two for 25 yards and UCLA held the ball for 35:17 to OSU’s 24:43. All of these statistics, taken in isolation, suggest a victory. But the defense will not allow that to happen right now.

AnteatersandBruins: The offense did its job under a backup quarterback. He panicked a little here and there, but for the most part looked poised and workable. He didn’t let hits or mistakes shake his confidence and I think we need to stick with this kid going forward. I know you aren’t supposed to lose your job to injury, but Burton looks like a quarterback, whereas DTR looks like a good athlete trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Joe Piechowski: For the first time outside of the second half against Washington State, UCLA moved the ball well and even put up a lot of points. That was a positive takeaway from this weekend’s game.

Dimitri Dorlis: I think Burton looked fine for what he was allowed to do. UCLA got a bit more simple on offense with a backup quarterback, which feels like a mistake considering that Burton looked capable of doing more. The biggest issue, as has been the case all season, has been the play of the offensive line, which has still not gotten to the level they were playing at last year. Of all the regressions we’ve seen this year, the offensive line has been one of the most disappointing.

3. The defense….is just not good. What piece of awfulness stood out the most in this game?

Shayan Saalabi: I get it if Jaylen Hurts drops 48 on the Bruin defense, but Jake Luton? 285 yards and five touchdowns, two of those coming in the game’s first five minutes? This is Oregon State, not Oklahoma. Be better.

Mark Schipper: The defense is atrocious. They’re often out of position and are terrible tacklers when they’re in position. The defensive backs do not consistently demonstrate proper technique and struggle to cover receivers when the ball is in the air. It has been for several years one of the worst tackling teams in college football from both a technique and results perspective. It’s embarrassing to watch as the Bruins surrender chunk play after chunk play all the way to the end zone. Opposing teams are never made uncomfortable and they are allowed to run their plays in wide open spaces like it’s a practice game where players only phantom-occupy their positions to build memory. The Beavers on Saturday on the road averaged 11 yards per pass and five yards per rush. They were ahead of UCLA 21-0 approximately six minutes into the football game and everyone was demoralized. This was the Beavers’ fifth Pac-12 win in the last four years and they looked like conference champions dropping 49 points on the road and walking it off. Whatever is done about the coaching, something needs to be stepped up in the recruiting. The Bruins need to go all in on getting into Westwood a defensive line that can hold its ground on the football field.

AnteatersandBruins: Good Lord, we couldn’t even defend the run and that was a relative strength going into the game. Jake Luton had NEGATIVE nine yards before Saturday. NEGATIVE!!!!! How on earth was OSU allowed to score three times in the first six minutes? We didn’t even let Oklahoma do that! I don’t know if the defense was playing down because OSU was “so bad” or if we are just that terrible. We can’t tackle and we even look bad trying. But, there’s one thing for sure--Jerry Azzinaro needs to go. Fast.

Joe Piechowski: The defense is the worst in the country. It’s so bad that I’m not sure there’s one thing that stuck out as the worst part of the defense. The tackling was bad. The pass coverage was bad. It was all sorts of awfulness.

Dimitri Dorlis: I have no idea why opposing teams don’t just throw 10-yard outs on each play against this defense. The scheme is almost designed to give those up, so why not take the easy yards? Oregon State was only forced to punt three times in this game, and right when UCLA looked to be gaining momentum to potentially make a comeback, the defense resumed their terrible play and let the Beavers rattle off three 60+ yard touchdown drives. Just an embarrassing performance all around.

5. We’ve reached the halfway point of year two of the Chip Kelly era. While last year the Bruins also started out 1-5, this year’s version feels much different. What is your general feeling about the direction of the program at this point?

Shayan Saalabi: The Bruins, more than anything, are poorly coached. They have an inability to adapt to their opponents, create favorable matchups or expose any of their weaknesses whatsoever. And that’s all on Chip Kelly.

Mark Schipper: I think what makes this year so fist-clenchingly, shout-at-the-gods frustrating is that it not only doesn’t look like a second year under the same system defensively, it looks like they were not taught a system at all and were maybe actively sabotaged. Oregon State is generally woeful offensively except against the most pathetic defenses and they lit up UCLA for 48 easy points. Nothing is working on that side or even has the semblance of something that works. When you are giving up 11 yards per pass (a first down every throw in standard situations), and five yards per run (a first down every two plays in standard situations), you are going to get scorched. You feel bad for the players because they are being humiliated in front of friends, family, alumni and students at the Rose Bowl, and by more on television. Thank God only a baker’s dozen of households can watch the Pac-12 Network. There’s nothing they can do about it. It’s bad for recruiting, it’s bad for self-esteem, and it’s bad for everything related to UCLA’s 18-time Pac-12 Conference champion and once proud football program. There needs to be an urgency at work to fix this.

AnteatersandBruins: I think recruiting is going to be so bad going forward that we are going to have to get used to blue chips 100% going elsewhere. There is no reason to come to UCLA when you could actually suffer from being so poorly coached. We don’t appear to have made any progress from last year and, in fact, look worse. In 2018, at least we could hang our hats on the fact that the kids were learning the system and it could only get better. Boy, were we wrong. Does Chip know there’s no draft at the end of the season and tanking doesn’t get you the first pick?

Dimitri Dorlis: I don't think anyone thought that the Chip Kelly era would devolve into a poorly-coached mess, but here we are. The recruiting is bad, the on-field product is somehow worse, and the program seems oblivious to all of these issues from the outside. When Oregon State is able to come down to the Rose Bowl and cruise to a comfortable 17 point victory, that’s a huge flashing sign that something is terribly wrong in Westwood.

6. The Extra Point - Sound off!

Shayan Saalabi: Entering Saturday, the Oregon State Beavers were 1-18 over their last 19 Pac-12 contests, with that single win coming in overtime against Colorado. 1-18. Yet they needed only six minutes to string together a 75-yard scoring drive, force a turnover-on-downs, score another touchdown, recover an onside kick, and score again. Find me a worse opening stretch of football, please.

Mark Schipper: It’s sad to see what’s happened here. I hate how embarrassing it is to talk about UCLA football with anybody. It’s a conversation right now that’s better off passed up. The Bruins had a real shot at 5 to 7 wins this year which, if the team was building week to week and looking progressively better, would have made this a fun second season to watch. UCLA needed a few upsets to make that happen but the time for probable upsets and a few victories as an actual favorite have passed. The Bruins now are entering the heart of a difficult schedule with Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, USC, and UC Berkeley all on deck. Would an 0-6 run through there even be surprising? I might argue a 1-5 record would be shocking as the situation stands. Maybe next year Chip’s team all of a sudden makes its leap. Maybe it will take a full three years to show progress, and a fourth year to have it be revealed in the wins-and-losses column. I don’t know. But what I do know is that this season is a major bummer for UCLA football.

AnteatersandBruins: I’m just going for the tailgating now. If we play some decent football, that’s extra cheese on my nachos.

Joe Piechowski: The Victory Bell was finally back on the field where it belongs. It only took four games. There is still no explanation as to why it took that long however and that is as disgraceful as the coaching has been bad.

Dimitri Dorlis: Is it basketball season yet?