UCLA gained 385 yards of offense and didn't score a single point. Unfortunately, much of the blame for this has to fall on the shoulders of Kevin Prince. Despite decent play calling, Prince had a very poor game throwing the ball. He opened both halves missing receivers high, and on his one interception he made a very poor decision locking on to Nelson Rosario with Shaquelle Evans open underneath. He also had another shot at hitting Evans on that same deep route that went for a touchdown against Colorado, but threw that one way too long. His mechanics seemed off, actually, because he was releasing the ball a lot earlier in his throwing motion. He looked OK at times in the second and third quarters, but he missed too many key throws and took too many bad sacks in a game where he needed to play mostly mistake-free.
Running Backs: D
Derrick Coleman, like Prince, reverted to the bad version of himself. With Prince, it's the inaccurate throwing and poor decision making. With Coleman, it's slow-footed, weak running. While there were several things wrong with the 4th-and-2 call down 7 in the first quarter, one big one was how slowly Coleman hit the hole and how easily he went down. Later, on a 3rd-and-2, Coleman basically fell right into Hayes Pullard for no gain while presumably trying to change direction. Coleman also had a tough time in pass protection, and didn't even get a body on someone on one of Prince's sacks in the second quarter. Johnathan Franklin had a fine day, but the running game wasn't really a focus for UCLA after the first quarter.
Wide Receivers: C
The positive: this unit, as a whole, showed up to play and looked like they could actually compete with USC's secondary. Nelson Rosario played with great effort the entire game, and both he and Evans did some good work blocking. Evans should have had at least one touchdown on the deep route that Prince missed. Joseph Fauria was also a factor early, although the offense went away from him, inexplicably, in the second half. Ricky Marvray actually got on the field and a) didn't lose his helmet and b) caught a pass.
The negative: too many big third-down drops. Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario both dropped third-down passes when the game was…well, I guess you can't say "still in doubt," but when the game was closer than it ended. I suppose you can't fault him for it, but Evans let up on the intensity in the fourth quarter after Prince threw to him in triple coverage. On the next play, he gave a pretty poor effort on a pass to the sideline.
Offensive line: F
Kai Maiava is absolutely lost when it comes to picking up a blitz, but the rest of the line isn't much better, with the notable exception of Jeff Baca. The interior of the line was just a sieve for USC's pass rush. The Trojans weren‘t doing anything too complex, but they did delay a few of their blitzes. Naturally, the offensive line wasn't able to adjust because they've never seen a delayed blitz in practice. USC's linebackers would wait until the offensive line would commit to double teams on the interior and then send a linebacker up the middle to pressure Prince. Maiava was just not very mobile on blitz pickups, and the quick USC linebackers were able to get around him with ease.
In the run offense, the line didn't do much. What Franklin got in terms of yardage he mostly engineered on his own with little push from the line. On Coleman's 4th-down run early, the offensive line got no push, but Cory Harkey and Joseph Fauria were particularly bad. Fauria took off at the beginning of the play to block a safety in the middle of the end zone, which would make one think he didn't know where the play was supposed to go. Harkey was pushed back two yards from the line of scrimmage, and with the gap left by Fauria's premature departure, there wasn't a ton of hope for a slow-running Coleman.
Offensive coaching, play calling, and game plan: D+
It might seem weird that the offense isn't getting straight Fs in a shutout but, hey, this was a weird shutout. UCLA's offense didn't look horrible, and the scheme actually looked pretty good. There were a number of nice wrinkles in the first half. UCLA actually passed out of the zone read, which we haven't seen much this year. The Bruins ran a number of empty back field, spread formations which were pretty successful even with an inaccurate Prince, which almost makes you think the spread offense is a highly productive style practiced by most top college offenses, whether or not they have good quarterbacks or dominant offensive lines. There were even a couple of plays where it seemed like Prince was lined up in a true shotgun.
The big negatives were terrible timeouts, a really conservative play call on the Coleman goal-line run on 4th down, and the abysmal decision to not kick the field goal with 3 minutes to go in the game to prevent USC from hanging a donut on the scoreboard (just to be annoying). If they call a bootleg on the Coleman run, save at least one of those timeouts for the end of the first half, and somehow get Prince to not throw that interception into the end zone, the score might actually have been 29-21 at the end of the first half. With this team, though, that's a few too many ifs.
Defensive line: F
No discernible pass rush, no discernible tackling, no discernible sign they were actually present at this game aside from one nice play by Damien Holmes rushing Matt Barkley where he threw a near-pick. The line put no pressure on Barkley. In a game where the assumption going into the game had to be that Barkley was going to try to make his Heisman case, it's simply bizarre that there wasn't more of an effort to generate a pass rush from the front four by putting Aramide Olaniyan in. Datone Jones spent altogether too much time at defensive end rather than inside, but he didn't do much at either spot. With a tremendous lack of blitzing in the game plan, the line was eaten up by USC's offensive linemen for the vast majority of the game. Donovan Carter, for what it's worth, played hard the entire game.
The linebackers spent most of the first half out of position and, when they weren't out of position to start the play, would over-pursue and take themselves forcibly out of position on any simple misdirection from Barkley. Patrick Larimore is a serviceable linebacker in run support, but he was abused in coverage (as was most of the team). Eric Kendricks was mostly a non-factor, as you'd expect in a game where running from USC was mostly a non-factor. Every single linebacker managed to go the opposite way on Curtis McNeal's touchdown run, which was bizarre because there was no real misdirection, aside from a mistaken impression that Barkley might have been running play action. Of course, they weren't helped by the defensive line getting no pass rush, or by a scheme that called for them to stand three yards back from the line of scrimmage and brace their ankles to be broken, but it was still not a good showing.
Defensive backs: F
Talk about not being put in a position to succeed. The safeties spent most of the first half cheating up in run support, which was interesting because USC almost never ran the ball. Sheldon Price and Aaron Hester were both abused in coverage, regularly playing 5 to 10 yards off of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, who gladly took flat passes, juked Hester or Price, and gained 10 to 15 yards. The deep passes to start the second half were a clinic in how to get what you want from a defense. After the first pass, where Lee was bracketed by a safety and Price, USC ran an extra pattern on the next play to take up the safety, leaving Lee in single coverage with Price. Price still isn't fully healthy, so that was a mismatch that needed to be avoided at all costs. Tevin McDonald was out of position on a number of plays, including the big pass to Woods where he was pushed out at the 4-yard line. I'd like to not blame the cornerbacks for the soft, busomy cushion allowed for Woods and Lee, but according to Joe Tresey, some of the time that cushion is actually a read made on the field, so they have to shoulder some of it.
Defensive coaching, scheme, and play calling: 0
To paraphrase Billy Madison, we award you no points, and made God have mercy on your soul. USC ran what was basically a two tight end formation with a slot receiver, a running back, and one receiver out wide for much of the first half and UCLA consistently played this as if it was a running formation. This left whatever poor cornerback was on the outside to deal with Lee or Woods in the flat when Barkley inevitably dumped the ball off. No adjustment was made to this, and it was actually either a bizarre or merciful stroke that USC didn't just run the same play out of that same formation the entire game, or else, who knows, the game might have gotten ugly. In a game where the plan had to be pressuring Barkley, it seemed like the entire plan was geared toward stopping the run and allowing Lee and Woods to catch the ball. Just really strange. It had to be one of the more bizarre defensive performances in recent UCLA history, because it was hard to tell what the Bruins were even trying to do. Granted, Lane Kiffin is actually a pretty good offensive coach, but UCLA's defense was not strong in any facet of the game.
Special Teams: B-
Nothing really stood out here. Josh Smith ran pretty well in kickoff returns, and Jeff Locke, despite the kicks not looking smooth, was pretty effective in the punting game. Taylor Embree was a non factor at the punt return slot, and coverage units were adequate.
Alternate Uniforms: C
There aren't too many UCLA fans that would say the unis didn't look sharp. If we're going by just the look, this would be an A. But it is another epic fail of a decision on the part of the UCLA football program and the UCLA Atheltic Department to have thought it was a good idea to introduce them in this game. Any smart UCLA administrator could have anticipated there was a good chance this would be a blowout. And, as a result, those cool, sharp-looking uniforms would forever be branded as the USC blow-out unis, the "50-0" unis and never, ever see the light of day again. It's almost as if someone wanted it to happen this way. Is it a matter that the UCLA decision-makers are so blinded themselves by blue-tinged glasses that they couldn't anticipate this as a real possibility, or they're just really this stupid? Why not introduce them in any other away game? Then, to compound the stupidity, even without any consideration this could be a blowout and forever taint the all-whites, wasn't there any kind of feeling that it was a bit blasphemous to do it in the USC game, when UCLA had fought to return the rivalry to the tradition of both schools wearing its home uniforms?
There was one good result of the decision to use the white alternatives in this game: Watching the game you thought it was some other team getting blown out by USC.
USC Unit by Unit Analysis
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