A positive thing we can say about Saturday’s game is that, thanks to CBS Sports Network being happy to show the last few minutes of meaningless blowouts, we were able to have our first experience listening to Bill Roth call a game for the first part of the first quarter. He was wonderful! Great to have you in LA, Bill. We were also able to watch more of the Oregon-Michigan State game, which was a very well-played game between two very good teams. The stratosphere-cam on CBS Sports Network allowed us to see UNLV’s delightfully kitschy field design. The game lasted a shade over three and a half hours, which allowed UCLA’s beat writers to complain about how long the game was, despite the fact that no actual fan cares and that everybody else’s heart bleeds for the beat writers’ workdays going from 5 to 5 and a half hours. All of these things were fine. Beyond that, this game was played at about the same level as the Spring Game (with about the same number of Bruin fans in the stands), except the UCLA walk-ons could probably do very well against UNLV’s starters (especially once the Running Rebels’ starting quarterback went down with a non-contact injury and was replaced with someone who is probably a very nice person but is not very good at throwing a football). We are going to go out on a limb and say that Northern Illinois is not going to repeat as MAC champions this year.
Using our calculations, garbage time began with 6 minutes left in the third quarter, and that’s probably way too late. Here is what this week’s report card looks like:
As always, we use:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
- Points Per Drive to measure scoring
- Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
- Field Position Margin to measure field position
- Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
The defense did what we expected, smothering the one-dimensional Rebels. If we had to nitpick, the Bruins were not as dominant against the run as they should have been given that Georgia Southern, which runs the triple option, completed 1 pass in 4 attempts on Saturday and nearly doubled poor Kurt Palandech’s yardage total from his 15 attempts (7 passing yards for Georgia Southern, 4 for Palandech). It is a shame that starter Blake Decker went down so early because he actually looked capable of testing the UCLA secondary, but that Sad Field Goal kind of soured us on feeling bad for Tony Sanchez. Through two games (including the suddenly much more impressive Virginia game), the UCLA defense has looked strong and its (small sample size) stats are up there with the elite defenses across the nation.
The offense is very lucky the above report card is not graded on a curve, because that was a really poor job against a really poor defense. While Paul Perkins was great and Nate Iese looked like a pro, the rest of the offense performed significantly worse against UNLV than Northern Illinois did. As weak as the rest of the Pac-12 has looked, it would probably behoove the offense to perform better than a MAC contender for the rest of the season if the Bruins hope to break through to the next level. When does a 30 point offensive performance (24 before garbage time) become a disappointment? When the Bruins only scored 4.0 Points Per Trip Inside the 40 and 2.40 Points Per Drive. Those are numbers that would even be mediocre against Stanford, let alone a UNLV team that just allowed 8 Yards Per Play to NIU.
The Bruins dominated field position thanks in large part to forcing six drives of three or fewer plays (not counting punts) before garbage time. UCLA managed to be -1 in Turnover Margin by throwing three interceptions (two of which were by Jerry Neuheisel, who did a pretty awful job of taking advantage of his nine opportunities to pass the ball). UCLA evened its program record in Sam Boyd Stadium, and Myles Jack continued his 28 game streak of hellacious hits on poor unsuspecting slot receivers.
Play time is over. The (deservedly) ranked BYU Cougars visit the Rose Bowl Saturday night in a game that the entire country would be watching had schedule makers not had their second awful week in a row, but more on that in the game preview later this week.