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The "Eye Test": UCLA Bruins Fall At Home To Arizona State

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Grading out the finer details of UCLA's 38-23 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Bruins' Pac-12 home-opener to see if UCLA football is meeting expectations.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

I'm just going to be 100% honest and say that after this loss, I do not feel like I can put together a coherent preamble to this article.

There is going to be a lot of football talk in this article. Like close to 6000 words. Be prepared for that. If it is cathartic to know what happened in this game, you'll enjoy it.

Let's get to the grades.

1.) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play?

I felt like the defense had a good first half and the tape mostly backed that up. Far from perfect, but a massive improvement over how they looked against Arizona.

465 yards on 90 plays (5.2 yards per play, just a bit below their season average), 8 TFLs, 3 more no gain plays, an interception, 9 pass breakups/deflections.

There was a lot of good things in this game. I feel like the offense being more functional would have cut out a lot of the late yardage just based on fatigue.

They were also battling field position a ton in the 1st half.

Defensive scoring drives allowed:

  • 3 plays, 31 yards, 12-yard TD pass: Really starting behind the 8-ball. Pass interference on the 1st play didn't help, but not an overly egregious series.
  • 8 plays, 40 yards, 31-yard FG: Holding an offense to a FG when they start at midfield is a win, even if they got lucky with a dropped TD pass.
  • 10 plays, 41 yards, 25-yard FG: Drive starts at midfield. Holding to a FG is a win.
  • 6 plays, 64 yards, 34-yard TD run: I listened to this on the radio live because I was in line picking up food, but on the replay it was a bad look.
  • 6 plays, 63 yards, 11-yard TD pass:
  • 9 plays, 70 yards, 23-yard TD run:

I will touch on specifics more in the following sections, but overall the defense's play was not the issue in this contest. Down Myles Jack, Fabian Moreau, Eddie Vanderdoes, Jayon Brown and Marcus Rios (for most of the game) puts you at a disadvantage, but the Bruins need to be better at things that were issues with all those players at full strength. Defending the zone read should not still be an issue 4 years into Jim Mora's tenure at UCLA. There is too much experience in this defensive coaching staff to be making the mental mistakes this defense makes at times.

Those injuries cannot be excuses because the game is still the same: read your keys, trust your instincts based on all the work you put in during the week, fundamentals when engaging a blocker or tackling or taking angles, and make plays. Feel like a B (3.0) works well here.

2.) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?

UCLA actually averaged 5 yards a play in this game, that just feels wrong.

Rushing game, non-existent.

28 carries for 62 yards. But I always put sacks on the passing stats (takes away 1 carries for -4 yards), and including the 13-yard loss on the safety in the rushing total is ridiculous as is giving the rushing game -5 yards for the 2nd intentional safety.

So, with those 3 plays taken out it is 25 carries for 84 yards (3.36 yards per carry), which is still "Trent Richardson in the NFL" bad. But not as repulsive looking as 2.2 yards per carry.

Josh Rosen played pretty well considering the disadvantage he was put at without having a running game and not being given checkdown options on several plays that went poorly for UCLA's offense (more on that later).

Arizona State's MO on defense is bringing pressure. That is what they do, there was no special scheme drawn up because it was a freshman QB or to run blitz to minimize the effectiveness of Perkins. They blitz probably like 75% of their snaps in every game, Southern Cal burned them on it last week, UCLA burned them on it a bit in the past. That is what they do because they have a super aggressive scheme.

Not being prepared for them blitzing a ton is inexcusable. For the offensive line, for Rosen, for Adrian Klemm, for Taylor and Noel Mazzone, for Coach Mora. Everyone.

Remember Eldridge Massington, the uber-talented 4* recruit? The 6'3" WR who had an 80-yard TD reception against ASU last year on a screen pass where he broke three tackles? He got targeted twice in this game, I legit forgot about him with how little he's been utilized this season. He was one of my favorite players last season and I had to ask "who was that?" out loud when he caught a pass in this game. That seems off to me.

Much as I love watching Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte make plays, it is a little questionable that only 2 players have more than 11 receptions in this offense that supposedly prides itself on spreading the ball around.

Mini-rant aside, you all probably watched this game. It was as bad as the linebackers' performance last week, but as an entire unit from the coaching staff to the players. D+ (1.3)

3.) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times?

General Observations:

  • Opening 3rd and 4 for the defense, great recognition of the screen look by ASU. Isaako Savaiinaea always looks good when he is going downhill. Aaron Wallace reads the non-block of the LT quickly, Tahaan Goodman does a good job getting off of a block while he is up tight in press coverage. This was a promising start.
  • First punt, Devin Fuller clearly waves off the PR team but Octavius Spencer keeps blocking downfield and the ball hits off of him. Luckily Fuller reacts quickly enough to commit a holding penalty to keep the ASU gunner away from the ball. Could have been a disaster.
  • UCLA's first 3rd down on offense. Ball gets tipped at the line on a nice play by the ASU defender, but Rosen passes up an easier throw to Devin Fuller on a drag route where he is uncovered to instead target that quick hitch to Jordan Payton as a single WR that UCLA runs way too often. 3rd and 6 should have been converted here. Rosen's eyes lock on to the first read too often and teams are going to start taking advantage of that. I know that he's 18-years old, but it is still somewhere to improve.
  • Kene Orjioke, after having to have sat through hours of film on how badly UCLA defender the zone read last week, bites inside on the first zone read that ASU runs and Mike Bercovici gets 11 yards and a first down. Just basic stuff. Orjioke has no chance of making a tackle on this play if it gets handed off to Demario Richard, but he hops an extra three yards inside anyway instead of keeping contain. This is infuriating, yelled at the TV live and on the replay. And, once he catches up to Bercovici, he leads with his helmet on a sliding QB for no reason. Luckily he misses the QB, but if he'd made contact it would have been a justifiable targeting penalty.
  • AND THEN AARON WALLACE DOES THE EXACT SAME THING ON THE NEXT DAMN PLAY!!! Bercovici throws off the option look and gets a 16-yard completion on the triple option look. Wallace is looking right at the mesh point between Richard and the QB and still hops inside instead of doing his damn job. What on earth is happening at practice to make these edge defenders mentally break down like this on Saturdays?
  • Textbook MLB stop by Isaako Savaiinaea on the ensuing 1st down. UCLA is in a 4-3 and Savaiinaea reads the flow and does a textbook tackle right at the line of scrimmage.
  • Wasted timeout by Coach Mora. ASU has a 4th and 16, but leaves their offense on the field. Bercovici is in shotgun but about 10 yards deep. Clearly going to pooch punt unless UCLA leaves someone uncovered on the edge, which was not the case. The split players were covered. Calls the timeout and ASU still punts the next play. Again, this was a 4th and 16. No coach goes for a 4th and 16 in the 1st quarter to give their opponent the ball at midfield. You punt in Madden when that situation arises, and you should never punt in Madden.
  • Josh Rosen (and any QB) has to be able to check out of plays when they are clearly dead in the water pre-snap. ASU has 8 in the box after showing pressure on a 2nd and 6. UCLA has 3 WRs on the field, with a slot WR being covered by a safety 12 yards off the ball. UCLA has 6 men to block 8 defenders. You cannot run into that box. You simply 100% cannot do that. Take a timeout, audible. Something. You cannot do that and expect anything but a TFL to happen and that, surprise, is exactly what happened. Go from a 3rd and manageable to 3rd and long because there is no flexibility in this offense.
  • 1st down play on the series where UCLA gives up the safety. Kenny Lacy and Jake Brendel had to have some kind of miscommunication on a combo block. DT is right between them in the A-gap, LB is shaded over the B-gap about 5 yards off the ball. The play is an inside run to Perkins. Easiest thing is to have Lacy take the DT and let Brendel use an easy angle to seal off that LB. At the snap, the DT slants to Lacy's side (easy block, all Lacy would have to do is turn) but Brendel goes with him on the slant and Lacy has to try and get to the LB at a huge disadvantage. The LB fills the hole and makes a tackle for no gain. Drive looks a lot different if Perkins gets the 5 yards this play looked like at the snap. Play call is fine, mental side for the OL is bad.
  • 2nd down play of that series is the awful slip screen into the flat that has worked maybe 15% of the time it has been run at UCLA. Unsurprisingly, it is sold terribly and ends up being a 3-yard loss on 2nd and 10. I am so tired of saying how much I hate this play.
  • On the safety, terrible play-call by Mazzone. Yes, Jake Brendel absolutely whiffs on his block. Yes, Josh Rosen runs backwards to extend a play and not being aware of field position. But UCLA has 4 WRs, two on each side, and all 4 run routes with stems that go 10+ yards. There is no check down option against a team that blitzes 75-80% of the time. On a 3rd and 13 inside of your own 15-yard line. That's just an awful plan. Rosen has no option to go with underneath.
  • Home run ball to Darren Andrews was well done, good throw, good route, good play-call. Great penalty by Arizona State's DB to keep Andrews from running away. Would have been a TD, UCLA didn't score on the drive.
  • Jake Brendel just doesn't block a DT that is lined up head to head with him on a pass play on 1st and 20 after a Redmond holding penalty. This was so weird. Brendel had to be expecting help because he just lets the DT run right at Rosen at the snap.
  • Deon Hollins plays the zone read perfectly to make a TFL with ASU inside their 5-yard line. Why is this not what happens every time?
  • Deon Hollins reads a screen perfectly on 3rd down on the same drive. Doesn't make the tackle, but is the reason they were stopped short of the 1st down. Great series for Deon, who played well most of the game.
  • Another bad read on a zone read by Rosen, in my opinion. 2nd and 3, there is no read man on the end of the line of scrimmage. Rosen gives, which makes Nate Starks have to cut back across the line to the same place that Rosen could have run straight into. He gets the 3 yards easily if he keeps. Should be automatic. UCLA had to punt after an incompletion on 3rd down. Stalled a drive that started at midfield.
  • 1st and 10 inside the 5, Isaako Savaiinaea cheats up way too early and gets caught in traffic. Demario Richard gets 15 yards because Savaiinaea was the only 2nd level defender on the play due to ASU's formation. Rare mis-step in this game for Isaako.
  • Deon Hollins with the recognition to make the play on the Fumblerooski. Brilliant, he points it out before the snap and then goes straight to the action to make the tackle.
  • On the same level as the UCLA offense's crappy screen play in my book is the backwards lateral swing pass that makes the motion player try to catch the ball 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The motion draws the attention of the defense, then you swing it to him with lateral pursuit already on the way. It was nearly an interception return for a touchdown, but luckily was just ruled an incomplete pass. Terrible call by the Pac-12 refs to not move UCLA back to a 2nd and 16 instead of 2nd and 10, clearly a backwards pass that went out of bounds.
  • Savaiinaea got jobbed out of a half of a TFL on a 1st and 10. Given to just Matt Dickerson despite the fact Savaiinaea got there first by shooting the A-gap, had the RB wrapped up and going down and Dickerson just finished the tackle.
  • Either Alex Redmond or Jake Brendel severely messed up on a 1st and 10 on the drive Rosen threw an interception at the end of the 1st half. The DT is completely unblocked and gets to Perkins three yards deep in the backfield. Cannot happen.
  • Randall Goforth made a perfect break and read on ASU's first offensive play of the 2nd half, just did not catch the sure thing interception. Game-changing play if he comes up with that.
  • TD run by Bercovici was over before the zone read decision was made. Both linebackers, Young and Savaiinaea, run themselves into blocks at the line of scrimmage. Whether he kept it or gave it to the RB, this was going to be a big play. Norvell is a damn good chess player as an OC. Jaleel Wadood overruns the play as a safety, but it shouldn't be the safeties' responsibility to make that play.
  • Failed 2-point conversion was another chess match win for Arizona State. They rush 3, and get pressure somehow, while dropping 8 into coverage. Perkins is staying in to pass block when there is no pass rush, so he's essentially a dead body on the play. Trips side gets locked down, Rosen tries to buy time and ends up throwing it away basically. No execution problems, just ASU outsmarting Mazzone.
  • Arizona State gets away with an egregious offensive pass interference on a pick play in the 4th quarter. 3rd and 1 play, receiver is "running a slant" that just happens to make him run directly into a UCLA defender and the WR wraps his arms around defender for good measure. As I recall, there is a rule against blocking downfield before the pass occurs and also one against impeding the path of a defender. But, I could be mistaken after watching, playing and analyzing football for the last 15 years.
This section focuses on a ton of negative, but there were a great deal of positives here as well. I would say it was pretty clear that UCLA got out-coached in this game. Handily in the 4th quarter. C (2.0)

4.) Do our players play disciplined and with exceptional effort for 60 minutes every game on special teams, offense and defense?

As always, the penalties are taken on a play-by-play basis with context:

1. Holding on the first punt of the game, listed as Mossi Johnson, but it was Devin Fuller with the huge heads up play to make up for Octavius Spencer's miscue. Good penalty, helped UCLA a ton.

2. Offsides on Deon Hollins, gets declined but would have turned a 2nd and 8 into a 2nd a 3. Happens with Deon's get-off on occasion.

3. False start by Conor McDermott on 3rd down. UCLA goes from 3rd and 4 into 3rd and 9 and the drive ends on the next play. Costly because it completely changes what the offense would have done.

4. Intentional grounding for a safety on Josh Rosen. I cover this play below. It is not on Rosen, in my opinion. The result of this play lays on Noel Mazzone's shoulders. Put a freshman QB in a position to fail on a 3rd and 13. No check down option against a team that blitzes a ton. Ridiculous.

5. Pass interference on Randall Goforth on the first play after the giant safety kickoff return. Not a promising start to a drive where you are already in a bad position on defense.

6. Holding penalty on Alex Redmond that negated a 30-ish yard gain on a throw to Jordan Payton. Redmond got beat inside at the snap and grabbed a hold of the jersey to make sure he didn't get to Rosen. Unfortunate. If Redmond sets his feet here, UCLA probably goes into the early 2nd quarter with the score 9-7. Makes a big difference. 6 penalties in the 1st quarter is also brutal. Lucky to get out with just a 9-point deficit.

7. Defensive holding on Isaako Savaiinaea when he gets beaten by ASU's TE. Gets declined because the pass makes it through anyway. He is outside of his comfort zone being asked to cover more athletic players in man.

8. Holding on Caleb Benenoch. UCLA ends up scoring a TD on the drive anyway. Not too costly.

Offense:

3rd and 2 play in the 2nd quarter on UCLA's first scoring drive. Terrible play, poorly blocked, weird design where UCLA huddled, Jordan Payton tried to sneak out into the flat after lining up 10 yards behind the center. Handoff to Paul Perkins and he breaks three tackles to get the 1st down. Should have been dead in the water, individual effort continued the drive for UCLA.

Overall though, this was a no for the offense. Lots of mental mistakes and breakdowns.


Defense:

Miles better than last game, I thought the defense held up well until the very last drive of the game where the fatigue got there after the OPI non-call on the 3rd and 1.

Special Teams:

After two pretty standard and normal punts by Matt Mengel (who is just an average D-1 punter, but nothing to worry about), Adam Searl gets the 3rd punt for some reason. UCLA is backed up, punting inside the 20. Searl barely gets it across midfield. No clue what the logic behind that switch was. Shouldn't mess with the mental side for special teams players.

The punters imploded in the 2nd half though. 13-yard punt by Mengel, a short one by Searl. Bad all around.

Coverage unit was insanely undisciplined on two returns. More missed tackles than they have had all season.

Poor performance here by the offense, solid by the defense, solid in parts and bad in parts by the special teams.

C (2.0) seems appropriate.

5.) Do our players execute?

General Observations:

  • Caleb Benenoch and Thomas Duarte whiff on their blocks on UCLA's opening snap of offense. Perkins had no chance.
  • DJ Foster is so good. Been one of my favorite players in the Pac-12 his whole career. Great play call and design by Mike Norvell to get a 28-yard gain on a screen. UCLA's DL doesn't do anything wrong, the Sun Devils have plenty in protection and actually have their linemen block instead of giving a free release. The uncovered OL slips into the flat and Foster comes underneath to find the opening. Nothing UCLA really did wrong on this play.
  • After Arizona State's missed FG in the 1st quarter, Alex Redmond looks lost pulling on the 1st and 10 run by Perkins. ASU is bringing pressure, Nate Iese takes on the end man on the line of scrimmage and does an okay job. When Redmond gets to the point of attack, instead of turning up into the hole (where he would have met an ASU LB), he just kind of runs to Iese's block and push Iese in the back. Odd play from Redmond. Perkins gets stuffed in the hole by an unblocked Sun Devil defender.
  • Kenny Clark is stepping up huge in the absence of UCLA's other playmakers. 1st and 10 on ASU's 3rd drive, he actually gets off the ball late, but pushes the center for ASU back two yards to blow up a run. Doesn't get a tackle, but he is the reason it went for no gain.
  • Good return by Devin Fuller after Arizona State's first TD, well blocked on the return and Fuller made one guy miss by outrunning him to the corner. Gave UCLA good field position to start what should have been a rebuttal drive.
  • Josh Rosen gives the ball when he should have kept on a 1st and 10. Had the triple option look with Darren Andrews in motion. No defender out there with Andrews, easy pull and throw to the flat for Rosen. He gives to Perkins and it is no gain because the edge defender crashed down to make the tackle. Would love for Rosen to be more aggressive and decisive on these plays, they hit for big yards with Hundley and for teams across the country (ASU got a big gain on one in this game).
  • Great punt by Matt Mengel to pin Arizona State inside the 5 yard line.
  • Rosen misses a wide open 3rd down throw to Darren Andrews. Just a poor throw.
  • Great punt by Adam Searl to pin Arizona State inside their 5 yard line.
  • Beautiful deep ball to Stephen Johnson by Rosen. Liked this play a lot, post across the middle by the inside slot with Payton and Duarte occupying the attention of the safety to the side the post is running to. Good job by Mazzone here, even if it wasn't designed to be Rosen's first read.
  • While asking Aaron Wallace to bounce out to the slot in coverage is deserving of much more fault than the mistake he made in coverage, he still made a mistake on the 26-yard completion to Gary Chambers. Didn't get hands on Chambers or redirect his route, free release past the 2nd level. Easy throw for Bercovici. Really miss Myles Jack on those types of plays.
  • Later in the same drive, Wallace is asked to cover a good TE in Kody Kohl in man coverage down the sideline, gets beat, luckily the TE dropped a TD pass that hit him right in the hands.
  • ASU's last scoring drive, Wallace gets lucky again because he gets beat in zone and gets bailed out by a drop.
  • Takkarist McKinley has great instincts with getting his hands up on pass rushes. One of those things that you can teach, but some players get it and others won't ever get it. Improperly credited to Matt Dickerson (he has to love the scorekeeper in this game, got lots of extra stats).
  • The drive to get Kai'mi Fairbairn his shot at the 53-yard FG was flawless. Rosen threw two perfect passes to get UCLA a chance at points. Probably the highlight of the game for the offense.
  • The 13-yard punt is confusing because the punters had a really good night before that mishit. Not clear on the TV feed exactly what happened with it, hoping for some help from people who were there live.
  • Both Kenny's on defense misplay the 16-yard run prior to the Bercovici TD run. Young overruns the hole he should be plugging, Kenny misses the tackle in the hole despite shedding a block and jumping two gaps to get there.
  • Isaako Savaiinaea gets burned in man coverage on Demario Richard for 22-yards. He is just clearly uncomfortable in coverage. His feet look like they're on a different person's body than when he is playing the run. Teams are going to attack him (and Kenny Young) with running backs all year long.
  • Hell of a play by Jaleel Wadood to blow up a screen. How a 160 pound player can create that much havoc is beyond me.
  • Kenny Clark almost single-handledly ends ASU's drive on the series where Devin Lucien made that insane catch.  Carries a guard 4 yards into the backfield for a TFL, on 3rd and 14 he bull rushes and tips the pass that Savaiinaea intercepts.
  • I have been watching football for a long time and have not seen someone dominate at DT like Clark did in the 4th quarter. Crazy to watch.

Some observations about the dropped passes, sacks, fumbles, interceptions and missed tackles:

  • A really basic DE-LB stunt by Arizona State gets a ton of pressure on a 3rd and 8. Benenoch and Redmond both miss and force a panicked throw by Rosen under duress. Ends up getting it to Iese for about 2 yards. That's basic stuff, a guard-tackle combo has to be able to trade off responsibilities when it is just 2-on-2.
  • Great pressure by Savaiinaea on a 1st and 10. It is a play-action out of shotgun, but he settles his feet in case there was a handoff, then restarts in time to get a hit on Bercovici. He struggles in coverage, like all of UCLA's linebackers, but is a force when he is moving forward.
  • On the kickoff after the safety, Kai'mi Fairbairn absolutely drilled the ball. It went 74 yards and got muffed by the return man at the 5-yard line. This should have been horrible field position for ASU. If Fairborn is kicking from the 35 instead of the 20, it goes 5 yards out of the end zone. Instead, Dylan Luther (why is a walk-on on the kickoff team when we have one of the most talented teams in the country?) dives and misses a tackle at the 10-yard line, someone else (can't see the number, might have been Soso Jamabo) takes an atrocious angle and misses a tackle at the 20-yard line and takes out another UCLA player in the process, Goodman and Roosevelt Davis take bad angles to fail to get the tackle from the 30-40 yard line. Fairbairn has to take on two ASU blockers with 30-yard running starts, gets obliterated but manages to accidentally get kneed in the head to trip up Tim White. Not a just world when you get that result after destroying a kickoff.
  • Randall Goforth missed a tackle on a relatively harmless gain at the end of the 1st quarter. 1st and 10, quick pass for about 5 yards, he goes for a big hit instead of wrapping up. He knocks the WR back and ends up making the tackle at the same point he originally made contact at anyway. But it set a bad precedent that hurt UCLA later in the game.
  • Jaleel Wadood misses an open field tackle that he has to make on ASU's first touchdown. Screen with a 2-on-2 situation. Wadood is the unblocked player, has a great angle but isn't able to get his arms around the legs of Tim White. Would have been a 1st and goal anyway, but still needs to be a tackle that is made.
  • I would put the sack of Rosen on a 3rd and 20 on Paul Perkins if I had to assign blame somewhere. There is a LB who has either man responsibility on Perkins out of the backfield or is spying Josh Rosen (definitely the less likely scenario). Perkins goes to help to the outside of Benenoch, which is 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The LB sees Perkins isn't running a route and has a free rush on Rosen when he steps up in the pocket.
  • 3 more missed tackles on the kickoff coverage after UCLA's first TD. 47-yard return gave ASu the ball at midfield instantly.
  • Josh Rosen's interception was ASU's scouting and knowing that UCLA's offense tends to throw to the outside options instead of attacking the middle. Linebacker read Rosen's eyes and trusted his instincts. Great play by him.
  • A much worse throw that should have been intercepted was on UCLA's opening 2nd half drive. He stares down Payton at the snap, gets flushed out of the pocket to the other half of the field, locks back onto Payton and tries to throw across his body to Payton while being hit. This is a play that could not have been any more of a "throw it away" read if there was literally a flashing sign in the stadium that went off saying "Throw The Ball Away, Josh Rosen." So lucky that Jordan Payton made a defensive play to break it up.
  • Nate Iese's drop on the next play might have been even worse. Great play-call and read by Rosen.Actually a pick play with Thomas Duarte running a slant from the opposite side to occupy the linebackers. A look that UCLA hasn't shown at all with Iese at a real TE spot, good route to get him underneath the LBs, just a straight drop on 3rd and 5.
  • Dropped pass by Perkins on a 2nd down followed by a dropped pass by Jordan Payton on 3rd down after the Bercovici TD run. Brutal. Both well placed, eminently catchable balls. Need those plays in order to win games in the Pac-12.
  • Dropped pass by Mossi Johnson on a 3rd down, perfect ball. Rough 2nd half for the skill position guys.
  • Drop by Thomas Duarte on 1st and 10 to start the drive. We remember this one, don't need to relive it further.
  • Missed tackle by Goforth on DJ Foster on a 2nd and 4. Would've been short of the 1st down. Didn't wrap up.

This hurt to watch again. C- (1.7)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

Despite his lackluster stat-line, Paul Perkins continues to impress the hell out of me as a football player. There were key moments in this game where he managed to make lemonade out of essentially a used diaper. The 3rd and 2 where he got hit 4 yards deep and still got the first down, the draw at the end of the first half where he had no business getting a first down, that drive to cut the score to 29-16 where he ran for 33 yards and a TD.

He is the backbone of the UCLA offense. Even more so than the offensive line because he can make them look good when they don't play well.

Kai'mi Fairbairn showed up in a huge way in this game. The kicking was as good as he always is, but with the addition of a last second 53-yard FG at the end of the first half. That "tackle" on the safety kickoff return deserves to make Kai'mi immune to criticism for at least the next 5 weeks. Damn heroic to stare down three players running full speed, knowing you are a kicker, knowing you are going to get destroyed, actually shedding the first block attempt at then taking a full blow from a player much larger than you are. Props.

On defense, Kenny Clark continues to amaze me. Defensive tackles should not be making 8 tackles a game. What he is doing is crazy, especially because so much more pressure has been heaped onto him to make plays. The only critique of Clark would be his relatively small impact on the passing game, but that is nitpicking to the max.

Isaako Savaiinaea made 15 tackles, looked great stopping the run outside of a couple plays (which happens to even the All-Pro LBs in the NFL). He's stepped up huge, playing like the player he appeared to be coming out of high school.

There are leaders on this team, there is just no way for a handful of players to make up for the mistakes of others. B (3.0).

Grade Card for the Arizona State Sun Devils:

1.) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play? B (3.0)

2.) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard? D+ (1.3)

3.) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times? C (2.0)

4.) Do our players play disciplined and with exceptional effort for 60 minutes every game on special teams, offense and defense? C (2.0)

5.) Do our players execute? C- (1.7)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field? B (3.0)

Arizona State GPA: C (2.17)

For reference, the GPA for last week's victory over Arizona was a B- (2.9). Previous games had the following grades: BYU was B (3.27), UNLV, a B (3.26) and Virginia, a 3.45 (B+). All four games resulted in wins for the Bruins.

UCLA gets a bye to prepare for a team that has been Jim Mora's biggest issue as a coach at UCLA, the Stanford Cardinal. Still led by the underwhelming Kevin Hogan at QB, an impressive offensive line and a defense full of players that are essentially clones of the defenders from every other Stanford defense the last 10 years.

This is a must-win game for UCLA. With the actual playoff rankings on the horizon (those are the only rankings that I will reference seriously), a 1-2 start to the Pac-12 play would not quite cripple any hopes of a big bowl for the Bruins, but would make it a "run the table" scenario.

This team was not going to go undefeated with a true freshman QB. It doesn't happen in college football. When doing BN pre-season predictions, I guessed a loss to Arizona and another loss I would rather not admit to predicting. Just missed which Arizona school it would be.

This is still a team talented enough to win every game left on the schedule and that remains my expectation going into every individual game. If the Bruins are more talented, they should win the game. Getting over the Stanford hump would give the team a ton of momentum going into the meaty part of the Pac-12 schedule.

Until next week, Go Bruins!