At least the first quarter was pretty fun. In the lowest-stakes crosstown rivalry game since 2013, the Bruins came out hot but were unable to keep the pressure on Southern Cal for the entire game in a decisive loss. It was a relatively small crowd and a sad home ending for many Bruin seniors who oversaw the turnaround from 50-0 to the 2014 Top 10 finish to now this season of missed opportunities. Much like the final three quarters of the game, the statistics are not much fun to look at.
As always, we look at the following stats:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency.
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness.
- Points Per Drive and Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure scoring efficiency and taking advantage of scoring opportunities.
- Field Position Margin to measure the hidden yards of field position.
- Turnover Margin to measure the impact turnovers have had on the game and season.
It was a lot of fun early, with the explosive touchdown to Jordan Lasley leading off the game followed not too far off by another beautiful touchdown grab by Lasley, who is growing into the all-important big play receiver that the Bruins have been missing since Shaq Evans. The run game even looked pretty good, getting a few positive plays through the Trojan front seven. Unfortunately, the rest of the game was completely fruitless. At the end of the night, it was just another bad game by the UCLA offense, the seventh of eleven games to finish below 40 yards per stop, showing just how bad the offense was at moving the sticks. 5.2 Yards Per Play isn’t horrible, but it was the fourth-worst showing of the season. As a result of the bad efficiency and mediocre explosiveness, the Bruins were unable to score, only managing two touchdowns, one of which came with a very short field.
With one game to go in the season, the UCLA offense is where it has been for much of the season—in the mediocre 51-100 ranking tier in all of the overall rankings that we track. If the Bruins still feel like coming to play, they’ve got a chance at putting up big numbers against the horrific Cal defense, but at this point there is pretty much zero chance of even breaking into the 26-50 ranking tier in any of the offensive rankings. A lost season.
Most post mortems have been relatively kind to the Bruin defense, pointing out the huge time of possession disparity and saying that it was a good effort by a squad that just got worn out. As the #1 biggest fan of the 2016 UCLA defense, we regret to say that this is wrong. In the preview, we pointed a way to victory with the offense scoring a few points and the defense finding another level above its previous great play. Frankly, as mediocre as the offense played, it played well enough to win that kind of game. Unfortunately, the Bruin defense was overrun, allowing the Southern Cal offense an eye-popping 84 Yards Per Stop. To give you some idea of how out of character that was, the next most Yards Per Stop they allowed this season was 53 to UNLV. A big part of the reason for the huge time of possession disparity was the Bruin defense’s inability to get off the field on third and fourth down, and they were ground up in a way they hadn’t been all season. The defense also allowed too many big plays, with the second highest Yards Per Play allowed behind the ridiculous Utah game. It was a tough game for a great defense, and unfortunately they just were not good enough to steal the game.
For the season, the defense is still in the very good Top 25 tier for efficiency and explosiveness prevention and in the ok 26-50 tier for points allowed (in large part due to the poor special teams and offensive turnovers). One more game for redemption against one of the best offenses in the league—this squad owes it to themselves to end the season on a high note.
The Fabian Moreau interception was a great play by a great player, and for the first time in 5 years the Bruins did not turn the ball over against Southern Cal. Unfortunately, Southern Cal started with the ball at or near midfield due to penalties and poor special teams twice, UCLA declined to block the rushers on a field goal attempt, and the Bruins were unable to jump on either of the bad snaps the Trojans had. The electricity of the first quarter was quickly extinguished, and a long sad slog of a season will come to an end on Saturday evening in Strawberry Canyon. At least Lonzo Ball is pretty awesome (go see him!). Questions? Comments? Meet us on the Premium Football Forum or tweet us @Bruinalytics.