Utah: Unit-By-Unit Analysis

The grades go south this week, with very poor execution and offensive and defensive game plans that severely hurt UCLA's chances for a win...

Quarterback: F

Kevin Prince had a truly awful second half. While he had some early success throwing the ball, he completely unraveled in the second half when the Bruins needed him to lead the comeback. Both interceptions were inexplicable decisions, the first into double coverage and the second without a receiver within ten yards of the ball. In his defense, on both throws, there was some pressure, but there's simply no excuse for those kinds of decisions. Aside from the interceptions, he also consistently threw behind his receivers, missing Shaquelle Evans, Nelson Rosario and Joe Fauria by throwing behind them at various points in the second half. Yes, the weater wasn't great, but the snow had cleared in the second half. Utah also did a nice job of containing Prince on the zone read, so he really didn't get much opportunity to make up for his passing with his legs. This game was further proof that with Prince at the helm, UCLA is at a huge disadvantage when passing is necessary.

Offensive Line: F

It was a nightmarish day for the offensive line, and especially Mike Harris, who had an astonishing 4 false starts. In the post-game, Harris said it had to do with some yelling from the Utah linemen, but really, there's no excuse for that many miscues. Aside from that, there were a number of bad holding calls, and two other false starts. The penalties alone would drop this to an F, but the offensive line had probably its worst game blocking in quite some time. The normally reliable Jeff Baca was bad in run blocking and really bad in pass protection, repeatedly getting pushed around. Wade Yandall had a bit of a regression, missing a couple of blocks in pass pro, and also not drive-blocking as well as he has. On the bright side, Harris actually played OK when he wasn't false starting.

Running Backs: B-

Honestly, Johnathan Franklin, Derrick Coleman, and the gang had an OK game, despite some pretty poor run-blocking and a bad overall game from Prince. Coleman did his usual thing, ekeing out some tough yards and running strong through the middle of the defense, and Franklin actually broke off some big runs. Indeed, they did surprisingly well considering the very conservative game plan made it so Utah could stack the box for much of the game. The big issue for UCLA was not the running game, but the fact that they couldn't run the ball as much as they would have liked in the second half due to being down by so much.

Wide Receivers: C-

The receivers didn't get much work to do in the first half, but Taylor Embree and Anthony Barr both had drops. Barr's was probably understandable, with Prince floating him a pass with a safety about ready to take his head off, but Embree‘s just demonstrated some poor concentration. In the second half, Joe Fauria came alive, which was a big positive for the passing game, but there seemed to be an overall poor effort from the receiving corps. Nelson Rosario, in particular, had two plays where he gave a half-hearted effort on semi-poorly thrown balls from Prince. Looking at those last ten minutes or so, isn't it pretty obvious Ricky Marvray should have been seeing more time this year, despite the fact that he's apparently wearing a giant's helmet? From what I've seen, he, Evans, and Devin Lucien are the best receivers on the team.

Offensive Coaching, Scheme, and Game Plan: D

As Tracy mentioned in his post-game, this was a wildly conservative and ineffective game plan. Prince only threw the ball six times in the first half, as opposed to 24 rushes, and that's just not going to be an effective ratio, no matter who your quarterback is, unless you're cranking out a consistent 5 to 6 yards per carry. Heck, Prince actually looked effective on his first pass, only throwing one poor ball to Jordon James. If they'd spent a few more pass plays building his confidence, and hey, maybe even scoring a touchdown or two, it very well could have changed the complexion of this game. The final drive of the first half was conservatism at its worst, with UCLA getting possession with 5:29, driving down field at a glacial pace, and settling for a long field goal attempt from a former soccer manager. It was just a poorly-conceived, poorly-managed game.

Defensive Line: D

Despite getting Cassius Marsh back into the fold (who, weirdly, had probably the best game from a defensive lineman), the unit had a second straight week of struggles. Datone Jones was once again pretty ineffective, both inside and out, and this time you really can't make the case that he was being double teamed all game long. Justin Edison and Nate Chandler were pushed out of the play almost every time they were in, with Chandler in particular being pushed ten yards back from the line of scrimmage a couple of times. Iuta Tepa played a few snaps and looked OK, and Damien Holmes once again had a pretty fair day. But overall, the line did a really poor job stuffing any of the running lanes for John White IV, who had a field day. And that falls mostly on the defensive tackles.

Linebackers: F

And what doesn't fall on the tackles falls on these guys. Patrick Larimore had a really bad day tackling, Glenn Love wasn't much better, and the unit really did a poor job even slowing down White before he hit the secondary. Although UCLA did not stack the box nearly as much as they should have, even when they did, the linebackers were unable to make the requisite plays. Oh, and despite having what was for him a poor game, Eric Kendricks needs to be seeing 75% of the snaps at Will. He just shows so much more drive and instinct at the position. At one point in the 3rd quarter, he had one of the better plays I've seen from a linebacker this season when White took a sweep to the strong side and Kendricks ran from the opposite side of the field to (almost) get him in the back field. While he's still very raw, Kendricks has the instincts and athletic ability to really be a star at the position. For what it's worth, the touchdown pass to White was not Sean Westgate's fault. No pressure from the front four, and a linebacker on a running back, and even you probably could have completed that touchdown pass.

Defensive Backs: C+

The secondary didn't have much to do, with Jon Hays being far from an effective passer. They largely played OK, but you would have liked to have seen more pressure from the unit given how poor of a passer Hays is. The pass interference penalty on Sheldon Price in the first drive was really a poor play by Price, and makes you wonder if he's fully healthy. Tevin McDonald once again showed why he has the potential to be a real star, with that pass breakup at the line of scrimmage in the first half a great display of his athleticism. Dalton Hilliard did not have an effective day in run support, with White repeatedly breaking out of his arm tackles.

Defensive Coaching, Scheme, and Play Calling: D-

Against this team, the game plan should have been stacking the box and run blitzing, and UCLA really didn't do as much of that as they should have. Throwing a typical seven man front against John White and that running attack is just asking to be chewed up for eight yards per carry, which is what White started to do in the second half. Again, like Tracy said, this was a very conservative defensive game plan. We saw almost no sign of Aramide Olaniyan on passing downs, which was likely a casualty of Marsh's return to the lineup. There was little blitzing from the secondary, and very little press coverage. Then UCLA's D was in nickel quite often, which makes very little sense given that it was going up against an offense that clearly couldn't pass, was going to run the ball, and it was snowing. UCLA's game plan didn't appear to take into account just how bad Hays is, and just how good White is, which really shouldn't have been hard to miss. And at this point, we're going to throw missed tackles under coaching. The decision to not have any live tackling in practice is looking sillier and sillier by the day.

Special Teams: C

Jeff Locke had another pretty good day, but Johnathan Franklin had the bad penalty interfering with the punt returner. Tyler Gonzalez looked good on his two makes, and was really put into an unfortunate circumstance on the 47-yarder, having to kick a ball right at the limit of his range. All in all, return coverage was good, and they did a nice job of recovering the fumble to set up the first field goal.

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