After playing so well immediately after returning from his injury, Kevin Prince has now turned in three stinkers out of four games. He was wildly inaccurate for most of the game, but particularly so in the first quarter when it actually felt like UCLA could make a game of it. His first four throws were all way too high, with really poor touch, although Joseph Fauria (being a giant) was able to snag the fourth. He also ran the zone read poorly, which is usually his strong suit. If UCLA had gotten credible quarterback play in the first half, the Bruins might have actually made a game of it, even with the huge yardage disparity.
On the bright side, Prince is clearly excellent at doing a hard count, getting three separate offsides calls from Oregon, as well as another two that probably should have been called. He also scrambled for a couple of big runs. And it does bear repeating that he's a really tough kid. He's taken some brutal hits over the past few games since his return, and has proven that he is not made of porcelain.
Running backs: D
It's fairly accepted in polite UCLA society that Derrick Coleman is a folk hero, but, man, that fumble on the reverse to Josh Smith was a killer. Oregon's defense had, in total, bitten on Coleman's stretch run and Smith probably would have had a touchdown if he'd completed the toss. Aside from that, Coleman was a monster, and probably did a great deal for his NFL stock in the nationally televised game, running for tough yards up the middle, showing decent burst and a good ability to not go down at first contact.
The flip side to Coleman's generally good day was Johnathan Franklin's abysmal one. He fumbled the ball twice (though Prince gets some of the blame for that mesh) and generally ran the ball pretty poorly after that. At this point, the coaching staff (whatever it ends up being) will have to assess the positives and negatives of Franklin for next year. He's got a great burst and usually has pretty decent vision at the line of scrimmage, but his fumbles are absolute killers. Throw in the inability to finish runs with touchdowns, and you have to think Malcolm Jones and Jordon James are going to get a long look next year at tailback.
The group wasn't given a whole lot to work with by Prince, but in general, they delivered when called upon. Nelson Rosario, for all his infuriating inconsistency, had another pretty good game. Sure, it looked like he was jogging at maybe 60% speed on the flea flicker touchdown, and he probably could have given a better effort on the Richard Brehaut interception, but overall, he showed up for the game.
Joseph Fauria will have to be the primary weapon in the passing attack next year. The announcers kept making this point, but it bears repeating: he's not just a red zone threat. No receiver on the team fights for YAC the way he does, which is really strange because he can be a bit of an unfocused practice player. If he's going to stay at tight end, though, he's going to have to learn to block. He was partially responsible for the huge sack of Prince late in the first half.
Offensive line: C-
Despite what the color commentator kept saying, it wasn't a great game for UCLA's offensive line. Greg Capella was consistently pushed four yards into the back field on both runs and passes, and Kai Maiava had a really hard time keeping his pad level low, at one point getting knocked completely onto his back by the defensive tackle. Coleman was able to get a good chunk of yards primarily because he ran with power, not because there were gaping holes open for him.
Mike Harris has to take a lot of the blame for the failure of the Coleman/Smith reverse, getting pushed back into the play and then allowing his man to grab Coleman's arm. Harris also (along with Fauria) didn't block anyone on the Prince sack at the end of the first half.
But, on the bright side, kudos to the line for only having one false start. Between Prince's hard counts and the Autzen atmosphere, I was expecting seven.
Offensive coaching, scheme, and play calling: C
For once, you can't entirely blame coaching for a sputtering offense. Prince and Franklin had, between the two of them, a really awful game, and their first quarter made it really difficult for UCLA to mount a comeback. Still, you have to give credit to the coaching staff for calling a fairly effective, if conservative, game. With Prince throwing the way he was, conservative was probably the right approach.
One thing I would question is what the color commentator insisted on calling the triple option, where Prince fakes the handoff and throws in the flat to a receiver. In this game, at least, it looked much more like straight play action, and not a well-faked play action. If Prince actually did have the option of handing it off to the running back, he missed the opportunity for at least two big gains. Whatever they were, those plays were sniffed out pretty readily each time UCLA ran them.
UCLA's timeout usage was, again, bizarre, but that was par for the course long before Rick Neuheisel was the head coach. It's just so strange how consistently UCLA calls timeouts on 4th downs. UCLA, more than any other football team I've seen, is seemingly so ready to give up the advantage of surprise at all times.
Defensive line: B
UCLA was shockingly pretty dominant up front. Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh were a formidable combination inside, with Marsh especially showing flashes of potential stardom. He's so mobile that you'd like to see him get a look at defensive end, considering the depth at defensive tackle next season (assuming whoever the coaches are move Jones inside permanently). Donovan Carter also played well, and Iuta Tepa did a good job in pursuit of Darron Thomas.
Damien Holmes had a not-so-great day, getting sealed a couple of times on LaMichael James' stretch runs. Carter was also the goat on Thomas' big 41 yard run up the middle, biting hard on the fake to James.
Clearly UCLA's game plan was to stuff the middle, but that's been the game plan for many games this year. Against Oregon, though, the defensive line held up its end of the bargain.
The linebackers didn‘t do as good of a job holding up their end. Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt were both consistently out of position, with Zumwalt in particular getting exposed when Oregon's running game started to move outside in the first half. Kendricks seemed lost in pass coverage for most of the game, and on Oregon's third touchdown, he should have been the one to pick up the tight end who caught the ball in the back of the end zone.
Patrick Larimore, even outside of the fortuitous interception for a touchdown, showed why he was expected to be a star on defense this year. He was consistently in position to make plays, and was a big reason why this game didn't get out of hand.
Defensive backs: D-
That's two weeks in a row where it‘s hard to figure out what the safeties were doing during the game. Tevin McDonald, who put a great hit on DeAnthony Thomas to force the fumble early, once again was out of position for most of the game, taking himself out of running plays and also missing coverages. From the body language on the field, he was supposed to be the deep safety on the 7th touchdown pass that sailed over the head of Stan McKay into the receiver's arms. Dalton Hilliard also took himself out of quite a few plays, and was a non factor for most of the game.
Whoever the new defensive back coach is will have to teach this entire group how to shed blocks. On James' run for Oregon's fourth touchdown, both Sheldon Price and Andrew Abbott were blocked deep into the end zone. This was, unfortunately, a consistent theme for the day, and contributed significantly to Oregon's success running sideline to sideline.
Defensive coaching, scheme and gameplan: C-
It's weird, but in the same way that the offense wasn't the problem even though UCLA scored no points last week, the defense wasn't really the problem although it gave up 49 points this week.
The scheme wasn't terrible. Against Oregon, with the defensive line playing the way it was, a bend-but-don't-break mindset almost makes an insane kind of sense. Joe Tresey actually had the right idea early, trying to stuff the inside run and force Oregon to run outside. The real problem was that the defense was on the field too much, and the coaching staff didn't adjust quickly enough once Oregon did start to take everything outside. Obviously, UCLA had too many big breakdowns, but an offense like Oregon's tends to create those kinds of breakdowns.
There was one questionable decision to accept a holding penalty against the Ducks on their first touchdown drive of the second half, when UCLA had just cut the lead to 11. The Ducks would have had 3rd and 4, but instead got a 2nd and 13. For Oregon's offense, downs are a much more precious commodity than yards, and the difference between 2nd and 13 and 2nd and 3 is minimal. I'd have taken my chances trying to stop them on two downs rather than giving them an extra one.
But really, against Oregon, the defense did mostly what it needed to do: get a few stops, and generate a couple of turnovers. The offense, on the other hand, needed to have a perfect game, and it fell far short.
Special Teams: C+
The plus is entirely for Taylor Embree vaulting over a guy. Aside from that, Smith was unspectacular on kick returns, and kick coverage was adequate. UCLA did allow one big return from Oregon after the first touchdown of the second half, but in general it seemed like the plan was to kick it away from the dangerous return men of the Ducks, and Locke was fairly successful executing the plan.
Oregon Unit by Unit Analysis
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