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The "Eye Test": Another Disappointment at the Rose Bowl for the UCLA Bruins

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Grading out the finer details of UCLA's 31-27 loss to Washington State on Senior Day at home in the Rose Bowl to see if UCLA football is meeting expectations.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I believe this is the latest into a week that I have put out an Eye Test in the 4 years that I have been writing them.

Apologize for that and I am fully expecting this to be a fairly low volume edition of the Eye Test on the commenting end. With basketball just beginning to disappoint UCLA fans again and the football team's season now basically counting down to a 3rd/4th tier bowl game barring a miracle run to end the season, it is going to be tough to avoid apathy for the next few months.

I worked until 10 PM on Saturday night, so I did not get a chance to fully watch this game until Tuesday night. It was not fun to go through this again.

On a surface level, it is obvious what happened. UCLA got thoroughly outcoached in all three aspects of the game (not all that uncommon with this staff, to be perfectly honest), could not finish drives on offense, and had most 50/50 breaks go Washington State's way in regards to turnovers and replay review.

UCLA did not lose this game because of missed holding calls.

UCLA did not lose this game because the defense failed to stop Washington State on the last drive.

UCLA did not lose this game because of a "push off" by Gabe Marks.

UCLA did not lose this game because of Ishmael Adams or dropped passes or false starts or missed tackles

UCLA lost this game because this program has clearly stagnated while the bottom of the Pac-12 has improved.

The Bruins are still and likely will always be a much more talented football team than Washington State or Colorado or UC Berkeley or Oregon State.

UCLA cannot and will not win a conference championship on talent alone in a conference as talented top to bottom as the Pac-12.

Something needs to change.

Or not.

Then we can all settle in for the next 10 years while UCLA wins 7-9 games in the regular season and goes to a lot of Alamo and Holiday Bowls. Maybe a 10 win regular season with a couple of lucky breaks sneaks in there once or twice.

For the casual fan, that would probably be fine.

That decent of a team is easy to BS about with people at a bar, get faux-excited about their chances to break through every August, brag about on Signing Day when they get top 10-15 classes, get upset about two or three times a year, and go on with the rest of your life unimpeded by the lack of progress of a team you do not play for.

But, that type of stagnation is like death.

It makes columns like this pointless.

It makes my fandom redundant.

Why bother investing in something with no light at the end of the tunnel?

Football sucks. At least once a month I say "I hate that I love football so much". Because I genuinely do. I hope my children love something else.

I can barely stomach watching the NFL anymore. I still do every Sunday because I use that love to rationalize my hypocrisy.

It is not fun watching billionaires profit off of millionaires who are actively shortening their lives and killing their brains one snap, while most of those billionaires and some of the millionaires are often openly discriminatory towards women, disenfranchised people and minorities, while having an openly hypocritical stance on philanthropy and caring about veterans.

Knowing all of that and still watching the NFL at the same time is tough to rationalize just because it is the highest level of competition. I consider myself to be temporarily without an NFL team to root for and just waiting for some source of fandom to materialize out of the blue like it did when I was a child and Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson and John Lynch wrangled me into rooting for Tampa Bay.

But, if I am being honest with myself, I can't see myself getting invested again as a fan in the NFL.

UCLA is different.

The NCAA is probably worse than the NFL at the core of things, but at least there are moments like what happened with Jake Hall at the end of the Oregon State game. The moments where it all seems worth it.

Moments like the awe I felt walking through the tunnels and seeing the field at the Rose Bowl as a kid for the first time.

Moments like the 13-9 game.

Moments like Nebraska's fans honoring Nick Pasquale.

Moments like the euphoria of being in the crowd at the Jerrydome after Jordan Payton caught that TD pass to beat Texas.

Those moments are enough.

For now.

Enough of my rambling though. All things that can be saved for another time.

Let's get to the grades.

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

If you told me before this game that UCLA would hold Washington State's offense to 376 yards on 79 plays (50 yards taken away that came on a meaningless end of the 1st half pass where a holding penalty that would've negated the gain was declined), get 6 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, force a fumble and intercept a pass over 80 defensive snaps, while also having the lead with 1:09 seconds left, then I would take those results 10 out of 10 times.

It was not enough in this game.

Basically 79 plays for 376 yards allowed to a Mike Leach offense.

4.75 yards per play, with 6 sacks, 11 TFLs and an interception.

That was not enough to win this game.

Let's go into all of WazZu's scoring drives:

1st Washington State scoring drive:

  • Showing blitz way too early on a 4th and 5 and getting and giving space for an easy slant route in to the vacated area.
  • Taking John Johnson off the field for Nathan Meadors and getting burnt for 2 slants in a row.
  • Doing that weird Kenny Clark two yards off the ball thing on a 2nd and 4 and on a 1st and Goal from the 2-yard line.

2nd Washington State scoring drive:

  • Jayon Brown gamble combined with an idiotic cheap shot by Kenny Young gives the Cougars a total of 31 yards on the first play of the drive. Not an ideal start.
  • Rebound strong with a pressure, a sack that knocked out Falk and another pressure. Gets the defense off the field.
  • Ishmael Adams fumble at the 14-yard line on a punt.
  • 3-and-out forced after getting a sack on 3rd and 10.
  • Ishmael Adams holding on 3rd and 10.
  • Great coverage by Marcus Rios on an end zone fade. Dom Williams makes an incredibly difficult catch for a TD.

3rd Washington State scoring drive:

  • Can't fault UCLA for the 1st 3rd-down conversion. Heady scramble by Falk. Good coverage, not a bad pass rush.
  • UCLA gets away with a targeting penalty that should have given the Cougars 15 more yards.
  • Adarius Pickett has great coverage on his man on a 3rd and 3. Genuinely great coverage. Just a perfect throw and great catch.
  • Nice play call for the touchdown. This was a solid drive by WazZu, they earned these points.

4th Washington State scoring drive:

  • Drive starts at the WSU 47-yard line. Not ideal. This being just a FG drive against a good offense is a win.
  • Two offsides penalties, a pass interference penalty, a 4th down conversion. All on a drive that started at midfield.
  • UCLA getting off the field down 8 is so lucky.
  • Defensive backs did a great job on this drive.

5th Washington State scoring drive:

  • Ugh. Before I even start. Ugh.
  • Front-four did their job on this drive. Got pressure, forced Falk out of the pocket, nearly got a sack if not for great pocket presence by Falk.
  • The undisciplined pursuit by Randall Goforth and Marcus Rios getting beat in man coverage by Williams were the two biggest things that got WSU in scoring position on this drive.

That's not a bad day. They had some insanely costly miscues at the end and got bailed out a bit by that terrible throw by Falk on the interception.

But as a whole over 79 plays, this was a good performance by a banged up defense against a damn good offense.

B (3.0).

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

First Drive:

  • 13 yards, 45 yards, 14 yards, OL misses blocks for a 1 yard loss, 7 yard run to get to the 2-yard line on 3rd and goal

Second Drive:

  • UCLA still trying to make the Jet Sweep happen. It won't work with the players he's giving the ball, but Noel Mazzone keeps trotting it out there for 0-2 yard gains.
  • Throwing an end zone fade is always a very low percentage throw, especially if you don't have a target like Joseph Fauria or someone overwhelming with physicality, jumping ability or size. Jordan Payton, though extremely skilled, is literally none of those things. Bailed out by a ticky-tack PI call where both players are hand fighting.
  • UCLA has Paul Perkins at running back. The Pac-12's leading rusher last season who has actually improved drastically in 2015. With 4 plays from inside the 5-yard line, UCLA threw the lowest percentage throw in their playbook (end zone fade), put in defensive players and handed Nate Iese the ball on a stretch play to the outside, threw out a 4 WR set and kept Perkins in to pass block, then kicked a 23-yard FG.

Third Drive:

  • Three-and-out. Never good.

Fourth Drive:

  • Loved everything that happened on this drive. The extra-OFFENSIVE LINEMEN instead of a defensive end or defensive tackle was about 3 years overdue. The dual-back set that has been criminally underused got thrown in there. It was like everything clicked for Noel Mazzone for about 10 minutes.

Fifth Drive (End of the 1st half):

  • UCLA has 3 timeouts and 1:24 to go in the half. Perkins gets 11 yards to start the drive and then UCLA passes 5 straight plays.
  • Perkins gets another carry for 8 yards on the 6th play, UCLA uses their first timeout with :43 seconds to go.
  • UCLA has 2 timeouts and :43 to go in the half with the ball on WazZu's 38-yard line. Already on the edges of FG range with 2 timeouts.
  • UCLA runs 5 straight pass plays and settles for a 38-yard FG with 2 timeouts unused.
  • I hate this offensive philosophy so much.

First Drive of the 2nd Half:

  • Nate Starks in at the start of the half instead of Perkins.
  • Perkins comes in and gets 9 yards.
  • Eldridge Massington whiffs on a block and gets Perkins tackled for a 5-yard loss.
  • UCLA brings in the extra OL on 3rd and 2, which is fine. WazZu sends a run blitz and gets home for a TFL.

Second Drive of the 2nd Half:

  • Looked like a smooth moving scoring drive until the Andrews fumble. Was not crazy about Perkins being out of the game, but Jamabo is more than capable of holding his own.

Third Drive of the 2nd Half:

  • Offense battles back to get a 1st down after a TFL on the opening play
  • Paul Perkins gets one carry to start the drive and then the offense throws the ball 5 times in a row. Again, this Paul Perkins fellow is pretty decent at running the ball. Might want to get him involved in the 2nd half against a physically inferior opponent. Just my two cents.

Fourth Drive of the 2nd Half:

  • Paul Perkins gets runs of 14 yards, 17 yards and 16 yards to start the drive. These plays were here all game. UCLA waited until the 4th quarter to use them in the 2nd half. Not wise.
  • Caleb Benenoch gets obliterated on 1st down from the 29-yard line on the play where Perkins is getting rest. Creates a 2nd and 15.
  • Alex Redmond jumps. Creates a 2nd and 20.
  • Nate Starks and Josh Rosen make huge individual efforts on back-to-back plays to get a 1st down.
  • Somehow this offense commits a delay of game penalty which costs them a manageable 3rd down chance.

Fifth Drive of the 2nd Half:

  • The little tap pass is a pointless play. Needs to be scrapped.
  • I thought again that UCLA should have been trying to run the ball on this drive, especially with all three timeouts and over 3 minutes to go. But it ended up working okay.
  • Keeping Starks in as a pass blocker instead of Perkins is a huge testament to how much Starks has improved in that aspect of his game.
  • That run by Rosen to score was incredible. One of the most clutch plays I have ever seen someone make. It looked like it was happening in slow motion. I yelled "Slide" while it was happening and 9/10 times that would probably be the right thing to do, it is certainly what that safety thought was going to happen. But Rosen turned the corner and decided he was going to score on that play. Insane play.
  • Well drawn up and executed 2-point conversion. UCLA has run that play effectively a few times, Rosen excels at that touch throw to Duarte in the corner. Awful communication by Washington State's DBs helped a bit.

UCLA kicked 4 FGs in this game, for varying reasons.

I think that having an NFL-level kicker might be the worst thing to happen to UCLA's redzone offense.

Contrast that conservative style of coaching that UCLA has to Washington State's.

Mike Leach on Washington State's 1st scoring drive: 4th and 5 from the UCLA 43-yard line. Down 3-0. He goes for it and gets it. Aggressive mentality beats the conservative one.

Mike Leach on Washington State's scoring drive to make it a 24-16 game: 4th and 6 from the UCLA 37-yard line. He goes for it and gets it. Aggressive mentality beats the conservative one.

That is 10 points that Mike Leach's offense got due to an aggressive mentality.

Those points are a huge deal.

UCLA, on the other hand, left 2 potential TDs on the board and instead got FGs. Ball inside the 5 yard line, 4th and goal. Let's say UCLA fails on one and converts one.

They now have 7 points instead of 6 on those drives and also force Washington State to start a drive from inside the 5-yard line once. Not only does a team score more points, they also put their defense in position to win a field position battle.

Under 30-yard FGs should not ever be kicked unless it is to win a game in the 4th quarter or if they're an extra point.

This offense is so sporadic.

Overall, good play in this game if you look at the numbers.

But why is Josh Rosen throwing the ball 57 times in a close game?

Why is Paul Perkins not touching the ball in the 3rd quarter?

Why is a running game that is getting 6 yards a carry not breaking 30 rushing attempts (25 carries for about 150 yards excluding Rosen's scrambles, Darren Andrews' run and Nate Iese's whatever that was?

B- (2.7). If the offense finishes one of those 4 FG drives, UCLA wins this game.

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

General Observations:

  • First Quarter
  • 14:55, outstanding lateral pursuit and closing speed by Kenny Young on the first snap of the game. Definitely a scouted look.
  • 7:25, UCLA shows pressure way too early on a 4th and 5, gives Falk time to call a quick slant to the vacated area. Easy conversion, even with strong coverage by John Johnson against a much bigger WR.
  • 5:15, I do not get the Kenny Clark lining up two yards off the line of scrimmage thing. It doesn't click with me. I would love to hear the reasoning behind it on running downs. It is odd to have your DT that far from the ball on a 2nd and 4. WSU runs right at it on this play with the easiest trap block you will ever see and gets 6 yards and a 1st and Goal.
  • 1:10, this is unnecessary to point out, but Kenny Clark is not an ideal candidate to try and seal the edge on a stretch running play as a lead blocker. Nor is Nate Iese a player who should ever be handed the ball. Nor is it necessary to put defensive players on the offense to perform running plays when Paul Perkins, Nate Starks and Soso Jamabo are all averaging over 6 yards a carry on the season.
  • 0:13, Now UCLA does the weird two yards off the ball thing with Matt Dickerson. WazZu runs at it and gets 19 yards on 1st down. This is not a formation that works well in non-obvious passing down situations (for example: Kenny Clark gets a sack on a 1st and 21 stunting out of this alignment). It makes the opponent's offensive lineman's angles and leverage easy as hell for run blocking.
  • Second Quarter
  • 14:24, UCLA's defense is lined up with no one in the A-gap on either side of the line. Eli Ankou is outside eye of the RG, Matt Dickerson is lined up outside eye of the LG, Jayon Brown is basically stacked over Ankou. Washington State runs the ball inside and unsurprisingly gets 10 yards. That is a formation guaranteed to fail.
  • 9:55, The blocked punt of Matt Mengel. Not in any way Mengel's fault. There are two possible places to blame. The first is the special teams coordinator, whoever that may be. The second is the personal protector on the punt team (generally the middle guy in that wall of 3 players in front of the punter. I believe it is Carl Hulick, but am not 100%). If UCLA has a Max Protect audible, like every team who punts the ball should have because that is just common sense, then this situation in inexcusable and whoever the personal protector is should lose that position. If UCLA does not have a Max Protect audible on their punts, then whoever is coaching the special teams should not be allowed to coach at UCLA any more. This is basic, basic, basic stuff. The numbers cannot block the rushers, you cannot allow a snap to happen if that is the case. Slide players down to protect and then punt. Simple as hell.
  • 8:47, Outstanding job by UCLA's defense of staying home on an end-around by Washington State. Cameron Judge misses a tackle, but it is so well defended as a team that it did not matter.
  • 2:23, Ishmael Adams fields a punt inside the 5-yard line. No matter what happened afterwards, this is an inexcusable mistake that Adams has made more than once. You cannot let someone keep doing that as a coach. One of the only rules as a punt returned is to plant your feet at the 10 and not ever catch a ball that makes you go backwards. Leave it alone. Let the bounce work itself out.
  • Third Quarter
  • 14:52, Nate Starks runs backwards instead of going forward and getting a positive gain on a run. You cannot reverse field like that in D1 football unless you are a transcendent player. Lucky he got a yard out of it instead of fumbling or losing 4-5 yards.
  • 12: 40, Kenny Walker is for some reason put in at punter and proceeds to shank for a zero yard punt, giving the Cougars a start at midfield. Wow. Just wow.
  • Fourth Quarter
  • 14:13 Outstanding pursuit by UCLA's entire defense on a WR screen to Gabe Marks.
  • 11:09, Josh Rosen has less than ideal instincts on protecting himself while running. This will likely work out poorly at some point in the future if it is not fixed. Rosen is not Cam Newton, he should not be absorbing contact on purpose.
  • 8:23, Josh Rosen's ability to throw on the run creates a vacuum on a 3rd and 10 where defenders have to honor the threat of the wide outs and it gives Rosen a massive lane to run and pick up the 1st down. Same effect takes place on the TD later in the game. Happens with Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck as well in the NFL.
  • 5:28, the linebackers (Young and Brown) on this play both look lost. Brown likely just made the wrong read, Young is super timid in plugging the gap (admittedly not helped by the DT being driven 5 yards off the ball). 12-yard run on 1st and 10 with UCLA needing to get the ball back down 24-19.
  • 1:09, QB spy by Jayon Brown was perfectly done. Tackled Falk after 3 yards, forced WSU to use a timeout.

For the most part, I attribute the issues here to the coaching staff. The alignment on defense that led to some issues is not on the players, the special teams mistakes are much more on the coaching staff than the players, the offense looked like they were running exactly what was dialed up.

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. Snap infraction by Jake Brendel. First snap of offense sees a 1st and 10 become 1st and 15.
  2. False Start by Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. Not his fault that the UCLA coaching staff put a defensive end on the field.
  3. False start by Alex Redmond (somehow credited to JTM despite JTM not being on the field). 3rd and Goal from the 2-yard line is now 3rd and Goal from the 12-yard line.
  4. Offsides by Matt Dickerson and Kenny Young. 2nd and 5 becomes a free 1st down for Washington State.
  5. (UNCALLED) Josh Rosen pretty blatantly commits intentional grounding on a 3rd and Goal with 23 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Not outside of the tackle box, in my opinion. Ball doesn't make it to the line of scrimmage and no receiver in the area. Would have been a much longer FG, but Fairbairn still likely makes it.
  6. Running into the kicker by Takkarist McKinley. Extraordinarily dumb situation to try and go for a block, but on a 4th and 16 and with it only being running into and not roughing, it doesn't hurt and gets declined.
  7. False start by Caleb Benenoch. His head is bobbing up and down and he is moving at the snap. Borderline call, but probably correct. Makes a 2nd and 4 into a 2nd and 9. Could have been a drive killer on UCLA's first TD drive.
  8. A personal foul on Kenny Young for taking a cheap shot after the play well away from the ball. Should have been pulled off the field after this play, but, since this is UCLA and penalties don't matter, he stays in the game.
  9. Holding on Ishmael Adams. After fumbling a punt to give Washington State a free redzone opportunity, UCLA is in a position to hold WazZu to a FG. 3rd and 10, UCLA gets a sack to force a FG from a mediocre kicker. Pretty clear to me.
  10. (UNCALLED) An egregious targeting penalty is missed. Tahaan Goodman with an inexcusable (I am typing this word far too often) cheap shot on Luke Falk. Falk scrambles on a 3rd and 10 to get the 1st down, he slides to give himself up past the marker and Goodman comes diving over the top of Falk, leading with his helmet to try and obliterate a defenseless player. Luckily he misses the hit that might have ended Falk's career or worse, but still hits Falk with an elbow right in the helmet. This was by far the worst call (non-call) that I have seen this season. I would not have an issue with suspending Goodman for the Utah game and strongly considered calling for one. A player willing to do something like this should not be allowed on a football field. A danger to himself and others.
  11. Offsides on about 3 separate Bruins gives Washington State a free play on offense, they get a TD out of it. Declined the penalty obviously.
  12. False start on Eldridge Massington. Puts UCLA at a 1st and 15 to start their drive to go and try to take the lead back after Washington State scored to make it 21-16.
  13. Eli Ankou with an offsides to give WazZu a 3rd and 1 instead of a 3rd and 6. Undisciplined, unsurprising.
  14. Pass interference on Marcus Rios. Got there before the ball on a slant. Rios gets beat off the line and grabs on to make up for it. Easy call, dumb penalty. Quick slant isn't going to hurt, you're in position to make the tackle for a 3-yard gain. 3rd and 7 is preferable to 1st and 10 from the same spot.
  15. Deon Hollins lines up offsides on a 3rd and 9 that gives Washington State another play. I think this play got some Twitter hype as being a bad call, but it is pretty cut and dry to me. Hollins' helmet is even with the ball, you have to be in front of the ball. The line judge would not be able to see the ball from his angle looking straight down the line of scrimmage, that is offsides.
  16. False start on Alex Redmond. After a promising start to a drive, UCLA goes -5 on 1st down, gets a false start on 2nd down and it is suddenly 2nd and 20.
  17. A F-ING DELAY OF GAME in this up-tempo offense. Makes a 3rd and 10 at the 15 into a 3rd and 15 at the 20. This might be the most frustrating penalty of the game.
  18. Pass interference by Ishmael Adams on the TD pass. It was PI, I don't agree with those announcers at all. Thought it was going both ways, no call would have been my call if I were there. But the PI was there.

Offense:

There should have been 18 penalties in this game.

Exceptional effort? Sure. That drive by Rosen was heroic. Made the most of some really questionable decision making by his coaching staff and an unsteady performance by the offensive line.

Defense:

Again. 18 penalties in this game.

The defense played okay, but Jesus Christ, the 10 penalties are just insane.

Special Teams:

Why is Nate Starks suddenly returning kickoffs? I am a huge fan of Starks' skill set, but he doesn't really strike me as an ideal fit for the return game. Also, what happened to the blocking on special teams? Why is it such a mess now?

The Mengel blocked punt is explained above at 9:55 in the 2nd quarter. Inexcusable mistake by either the personal protector or (far more likely, in my opinion) the special teams coordinator.

Bringing in Kenny Walker is almost as inexcusable as not having the punt team audible to Max Protect on the blocked punt. Whoever is in charge of special teams needs to not be in charge any more.

Ka'imi Fairbairn. Keep doing what you're doing. Should win the Groza Award this year. He is now going to get a shot to kick in the NFL with how much he has improved. That is amazing.

Overall, this is a D (1.0). Penalties killed UCLA in this game, like always. I am glad that the coaching staff has taken the opportunity to complain about other teams not getting penalties instead of trying to fix the mentality that has made UCLA the most penalized Power 5 team in the country since Mora has been at UCLA.

Got to lose that kind of personal accountability. Sends a great message to the team.

5.) Do our players execute?

General Observations:

  • First Quarter
  • 12:22, Josh Rosen is just insane. Flawless throw, and I am about 90% sure that if I got an end zone look at this play that he moved the safety with his eyes to the right to give Jordan Payton a clear 1-on-1 shot down the middle of the field.
  • 11:47, Jake Brendel is the only offensive lineman that appeared to do anything positive on this play. It is a inside run to Perkins, with Caleb Benenoch pulling and the left side of the line down blocking. Basic play that is run on every level of football. Kolton Miller is at RT and gets punked by a player probably 60 pounds and 5 inches smaller than him, but is not a part of the play. None of the down blocks work except Brendel's. Benenoch doesn't touch anyone while pulling. Linebacker run blitzes and tackles Perkins for a loss. Not an ideal 1st and goal result.
  • 2:05, an awful pass block attempt by Kolton Miller on a 3rd and 10. Josh Rosen being an immaculately talented player saves the Bruins from having to probably punt on their 2nd drive. Elite level throw by Rosen on the run to Eldridge Massington after avoiding the sack with his footwork.
  • 1:44, I watched this play 5 times in slow motion and still have no clue what UCLA is trying to do in pass protection on this play, but it was atrocious and got Rosen hit. Luckily, he is a savant and makes a money throw to Massington (who makes a hell of a grab) on a post to get UCLA a 1st and Goal. Might have been a run-pass option, but it didn't look like that to me.
  • 0:30, a 100% "LOOK OUT" block by Caleb Benenoch on 3rd and goal. Lucky it wasn't a sack.
  • Second Quarter
  • 15:00, Matt Dickerson embarrasses the RG on this play. Eli Ankou gets the TFL, but Dickerson makes the highlight.
  • 10:32, Conor McDermott and Alex Redmond allow a WazZu DL to split them on 2nd and 7 and he blows up the play. Perkins battles his way to 3 yards somehow, but this play is the biggest reason for a 3-and-out on the drive.
  • 4:38, Jake Brendel with a fantastic pull and seal downfield on Soso Jamabo's only carry of the night (how did that happen?).
  • 4:20, Nate Starks hits the hole furiously on his TD run. Gets an extra gear when he sees the end zone.
  • 4:14, Jayon Brown gambles to go for the ball on a 1st and 10. Drag route where he has to pick up a WR in coverage, decent positioning, but a needless gamble. WazZu gets 16 yards instead of maybe 3 if Brown goes to tackle Dom Williams.
  • Third Quarter
  • 9:04, Randall Goforth makes an outstanding play in run support on a stretch play to the right side. Coming from a deep safety spot in the end zone, rallies up to meet the running back at the line of scrimmage and force a much bigger back out of bounds for no gain.
  • 8:39, Jayon Brown with flawless timing on an A-gap blitz on a 1st and Goal. Blows the play up. Doesn't get credit for the TFL, but he caused it.
  • 7:04, Perfect blocks on a WR screen on 3rd and 1 by Thomas Duarte and Jordan Payton. Easy conversion for Darren Andrews.
  • 6:14, Kolton Miller gets beat badly at LT. Forces Rosen to flush the pocket and throw on the run. Still a completion and 3rd down conversion. Rosen is amazing.
  • 4:03, Both tackles get beat badly on a 1st and 10 from the 4-yard line to start a drive. Not good.
  • 2:50, There is a reason why Darren Andrews is normally catching the WR screens instead of blocking. He gets dominated on this play and Payton is tackled before he has a chance to make anything happen.
  • 1:38, Flawless open field form tackle by Kenny Young. Does the same thing on the next play in space.
  • Fourth Quarter
  • 11:30, Fantastic block by Conor McDermott to seal the edge on a defender that started with outside leverage. This is a high degree of difficulty block and it looks easy on film.
  • 9:54, Caleb Benenoch gets absolutely demolished on a 5-yard loss by Nate Starks. He gets driven 6 yards into the backfield. He isn't even a play side blocker on this play, the WSU DL puts him on skates at takes him at a 45 degree angle to tackle Starks on a stretch play to the left side. Embarrassing for this to happen to someone as good at run blocking as Caleb, this is like a walk-on trying to block an All-American.
  • 8:00, Alex Redmond gets rag-dolled and Perkins gets tackled for no gain because of it. Hole was there for a nice gain on 1st down.
  • 7:10, Aaron Wallace and Kenny Young collapse the pocket on Falk with twin bull rushes from the right side. Force him to roll out left and make a bad decision to flip it to his RB behind the line of scrimmage for a loss on 1st down.
  • 4:10, Adarius Pickett gets burnt by Robert Lewis on a 3rd and 2 for a 21-yard gain. Just got beat.
  • 2:37, perfect route by Jordan Payton to get a 3rd down conversion.
  • 1:09, 2-point conversion by Rosen. That throw was immaculate. He's indescribable. I wish I knew better words to illustrate how impressive he is.
  • :45, Such a great move by Aaron Wallace to beat the LT on this play. He is fingertips away from a sack to basically clinch the game but Falk steps up a half second before Wallace gets there.
  • :37, Marcus Rios gets beat by Dom Williams. Just got routed basically. 30-yard gain to get WSU in easy FG range.
  • :02, Kolton Miller and Conor McDermott both get roasted on the final play of the game. Had no chance to even try and make a miracle happen. Four man rush against a 6-man protection got two defenders loose. Not inspiring.

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

  • Q1 14:27, Deon Hollins with a fantastic rush to get UCLA's first sack of the game. Easy win due to poor footwork by the right tackle and an oddly deep drop by Luke Falk. Still props to Deon for the bend to close off that edge.
  • Q1 8:17, Takkarist McKinley with a ridiculous stunt from head up with the LT to the A-gap. Gets his right arm and body in great position to rip through the RG and get a strip sack of Falk and an intentional grounding as well.
  • Q2 13:05, Kenny Clark does this:Teams needing interior DL in top 50 this draft should have no problem - good group including UCLA's Kenny Clark: pic.twitter.com/A2Pq9bXzR9
  • Q2 5:10, Caleb Benenoch and Kolton Miller get worked on a simple stunt on a 2nd and 9. Should have been a sack, Rosen evades the rusher and makes an outstanding play to pick up 14 yards on a pass to Darren Andrews. Paul Perkins also does an outstanding job picking up a blitz on this play.
  • Q2 3:04, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner with a quick first step and burst off the ball is able to turn a stunt into a sack. He isn't even supposed to be the intended play maker on this stunt, he's supposed to absorb a double team to let the outside rusher loop underneath as a free rusher. But he is so quick that he splits the double team, has unbeatable positioning on the LT and gets straight to Falk for the sack and hit that sent Falk to the locker room until the 2nd half.
  • Q2 2:23, Ishmael Adams' fumble is addressed above. But still deserves a deep sigh and a face palm for this atrocious decision making by Adams. I do think that this was a fumble as well. When it happened, I thought he fumbled, but the call on the field originally was that he was down. The video evidence wasn't indisputable, in my opinion, so the call should have remained the same whichever way it was originally called on the field. I'm not up in arms about this being the end result though because I think Adams fumbled it to begin with. Plus, being undisciplined enough to be fielding a punt in this situation deserves this type of a consequence.
  • Q2 2:00, Matt Dickerson gets a sack taken away on a holding penalty by Ishmael Adams. Dickerson beats the LG with just a straight bull rush. Aaron Wallace forces Peyton Bender into Dickerson's lap with an aggressive edge rush on the RT to close the pocket down. Great team rush against an inexperienced QB. Shame it was wasted because of another undisciplined player.
  • Q3 6:00, Darren Andrews fumbles to give Washington State another possession. I also thought this was a fumble. Seemed like the right call after watching it back. Close, but I think that it was a fumble.
  • Q4 14:50, Kenny Clark gets a coverage sack. Holds his position, keeps his eyes up and shows off his athleticism in pursuit after a spin move.
  • Q4 13:13, Kenny Clark gets a sack after Aaron Wallace rushes off the left side to force Falk up through the pocket. Clark has more than earned these two 4th quarter sacks after the unappreciated work he's put in for other pass rushers.
  • Q4 3:20, An awful decision by Falk, but impressive break on the ball and closing speed to go make a huge interception by Jaleel Wadood.
  • Q4 1:01, Randall Goforth takes a dreadful angle on this play. Pickett does a good job keeping Marks in front of him. Just short of the 1st down marker. 2-on-1 in space. UCLA should make this tackle for 6 yards at most, probably tackle him behind the 1st down marker to keep the clock running. Instead, Goforth never slows his feet, over pursues in addition to taking the bad angle. Marks cuts back inside for 10 extra yards. Underrated miscue in this game.

Some great, some good, some bad, some awful. It was an up and down day in terms of execution, but this was not the reason UCLA lost by a long shot. A C+ (2.3) seems appropriate.

6.) Do we have leaders on the field?

Josh Rosen, Paul Perkins, Kenny Clark, Aaron Wallace, Jordan Payton, Jake Brendel, Ka'imi Fairbairn.

Yes. An A+ for athletes being leaders during the game.

But, this is an embarrassment for UCLA.

Losing to less talented teams at home is unacceptable.

To be honest, losing at home at all is unacceptable.

Jim Mora, Noel Mazzone, Tom Bradley, Adrian Klemm.

Be better.

You're being paid like the best, you need to be performing like the best.

Not like the good. Not like a developing team. Not like an inexperienced team.

Like the F-ing best.

Those athletes can only do so much on their own.

If you can't hold yourselves accountable because of how much money you are making and what that means in terms of personal accountability and responsibility, then at least hold yourselves accountable for the dream you sold to those athletes listed above and all the others wearing Bruin uniforms.

Because, in terms of on the field leadership, you are failing them.

C- (1.7)

Grade Card for the Washington State Cougars:

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? B- (2.7)

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? D (1.0)

5.) Do our players execute? C+ (2.3)

6.) Do we have leaders on the field? C- (1.7)

Washington State GPA: C (2.12)

For reference, the GPA for last week's win over Oregon State was an impressive B+ (3.62) ). The game (the word "loss" doesn't seem to sum it up well enough, so I'm just calling it a game) against Stanford was a D+ (1.52). The other two losses this year were to Colorado, a disappointing C (2.25), and Arizona State, a C (2.17). Those stand in sharp contrast to victories over UC Berkeley B+ (3.57), Arizona, a B- (2.9), BYU, a B (3.27), UNLV, a B (3.26), and Virginia, a 3.45 (B+).

Two games left in the regular season. If UCLA wins out, they still win the Pac-12 South and get to go try out Stanford again.

I still expect wins every week because that is what the talent level suggests.

Until next time, Go Bruins!