Texas: Unit by Unit Analysis

The grades for each unit aren't pretty, with only a handful of players getting decent reviews, and the coaching grades are worse...


Richard Brehaut had a lot of work to do – UCLA already was down 21-0 when he got into the game, probably a series too late. He was not going to do anything by himself, obviously, but he could have helped a bit more. He completed only 8 of 19 passes for 150 yards, failing to pick up some open receivers, holding the ball too long at times and misfiring with a couple of passes. The Bruins also converted only 1 of 7 third-down plays in the second half. Couple that with the atrocious start by Kevin Prince and the Bruins were in deep and not going to make much of a dent in the halftime deficit they faced. Brett Hundley has not been revved up much in practice to this point – the plays he has been asked to run are very rudimentary – but the Bruins might want to think about accelerating his schedule. Prince is better in the run game and Brehaut is better in the pass game, but neither has been able to execute at a level that that is going to scare many defenses, negating the advantages of the Pistol.


Derrick Coleman pounded the football for a second game in a row, averaging 6.7 yards on seven plays and scoring the Bruins' two touchdowns from 1- and 1-yard out. Johnathan Franklin gained 58 yards on 15 plays (3.9 average) and had a couple of decent blitz pick-ups that gave Brehaut time, if nothing else, to look downfield. Jordon James got some reps at running back, which is a good thing because the ‘F' in F-back at this point stands for ‘Figment of your imagination.' There was a lot of talk about getting that position more involved in the offense during the off-season and in fall camp, but that has not been the case. James had a nice gainer (40 yards), motioning across the formation and wheeling his way up the sideline to haul in a pass from Brehaut against an overmatched linebacker. But he had only one carry, gaining three yards as the F-back, and Anthony Barr also had only one touch.


The Longhorns were ranked 17th in passing efficiency defense coming into this game, but there were receivers open for Prince and Brehaut. Too often, they could not complete plays. Prince completed as many passes to Texas defenders than he did his own teammates and Brehaut at times put the ball in difficult places to make catches. Going forward, Brehaut needs to be much sharper. But the receiving corps also has to be a concern given the 1-2 record and difficulties in the passing game. The group in the past has not exactly distinguished itself as go-all-out playmakers and the poor start could really hurt them on the practice field and in the games.


Sean Sheller, who will undergo surgery to repair a broken arm, will be a significant loss to the offensive line. They lost a guy who could play the quick guard and quick tackle and what little depth there was in the line gets considerably shallower; it's basically Greg Capella, Chris Ward, Alberto Cid and Kai Maiava at the center and guard spots (unless Wade Yandall can take some big leaps forward very quickly) and, then, really, a former walk-on Brett Downey as your only real option at tackle. The line played well enough against Texas for much of the game – the Bruins rushed for a decent 4.1 yards per play, allowed one sack and had only one penalty, a hold by Maiava. There were some issues inside with Texas defenders crashing into the backfield and some whiffs on blitzes, but some of those might have been solved by some changes in protections. Prince was hit one time by a blitzing linebacker who came in clean from the front side not the blind side. Nevertheless, the quarterback never saw him.


Most ridiculous thing we'll see all year … maybe. The Bruins have a 3rd-and-1 at the Texas 49-yard line and need to call a timeout because they can't get lined up, which is bad enough. But coming out of that timeout they somehow manage to have 12 players on the field and are penalized for a substitution penalty. How does that happen? Beyond that, the no-huddle was an utter failure. When in it, the Bruins still were snapping the ball with 17, 16, 15 seconds to go on the play clock. It was disorganized and did nothing but further complicate things for an offense that has problems getting lined up correctly to begin with. Plays were coming in late, there were issues with the signaling of those plays. In practice, it was a bit of a scramble and it was the same in the game. A lot of teams can do it without much thought. It also might have helped to try to speed up the game – or at least the offense – by just going with an abbreviated play sheet in 2-minute mode the entire second half, but they never did that.


The Longhorns exploited a couple of physical mismatches all game, a big reason they were able to pound out 284 yards on the ground, most of it coming in medium-sized chunks. UCLA can't point to three plays in this one and say, if only. The Bruins' front seven was manhandled by the Texas offense and the results were ugly. On the play that Andrew Abbott was knocked out of the game, Damien Holmes got crushed by a double team on the backside of the play by the tackle and running back. Watching both hits back to back it was one of those, ‘Oooh' and then an ‘Oh, man …' When they went right at Holmes, which was often, he had trouble standing ground and he was not alone. The Bruins are in deep up front, lacking strength and playing with little technique or discipline. Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Datone Jones were called for offsides penalties, both coming on third-down plays.


Patrick Larimore led UCLA with nine tackles, seven solo, but he did not play a strong game. Sean Westgate? Not much to say, so we'll move on. Will the Bruin coaches? They really should get Eric Kendricks on the field more often. Jordan Zumwalt, too. They have more of a chance to bring a physical presence the defense is so lacking. Through three games, at all three positions, the linebackers have been unable to get into position to make plays and, in those instances that they were, quite often they can't get it done. They have wranglers more than tacklers.


Not a good day, with a number of bad busts in coverage, mistakes and one just mystifying play when Sheldon Price failed to pick off or knock down that deep pass in the third quarter and ended up tipping it right to the intended Texas receiver inside the 10-yard line. That was a third-down play, too. On the Longhorns' first touchdown, UCLA dropped eight into coverage and still completely lost the tight end D.J. Grant. There wasn't a defender within 10 yards when he caught an easy throw from Case McCoy and went in for a 45-yard score. Dietrich Riley had a good sequence, forcing and falling on a fumble, but those were few and far between. Texas quarterbacks had completed 57.5 percent of their passes coming in, but were able to hit 16 of 20 (80 percent) against the Bruins.


This is not meant to be fair or mitigate the following, but with a stunning lack of ability to make a play or even tackle it's difficult to run anything with any confidence. The defense was a running comedy of errors through four quarters of football, from the 284 rushing yards allowed to the 16-of-20 passing to the 9-of-15 on third-down conversions to the missed tackles to the inability to get off a block to just getting flat handled by a more physical team. Oh, and let's not leave out being woefully unprepared for the wrinkles Texas threw at them around the goal line. Texas executed its offense very well, but it also got a lot of help from the Bruins. They often enough are in position to make plays, but they don't get made. That blitz, where the Bruins sent Larimore and Alex Mascarenas after the Texas quarterback only to have him scramble around, avoid a sack, and finally hit a pass downfield was just so telling. The thinking goes is that the Bruins' limited contact in fall camp was an effort to get to the opener at Houston healthy, but in doing so they forgot how to tackle. It worked, that is, and UCLA is the healthiest it's ever been at this time of the season in recent memory, but bottom line the defensive players are not physical enough, disciplined or fundamentally sound enough to be a good defense.


Jeff Locke had a nice game, hitting field goals from 51 and 49 yards and averaging 48.8 yards on four punts, including a 70-yard that went for a nice long roll across the Rose Bowl turf. Josh Smith returned four kickoffs for 115 yards (28.8 average), and had a very long return called back, and the Longhorns ended up pooching their kickoffs to eliminate the only chance the Bruins had of scoring a touchdown. The kickoff cover team showed some improvement and the Bruins were able to take advantage of an unforced error, falling on the football when the Longhorns' Jaxon Shipley muffed a punt.

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