In their season opener, the UCLA defense came through with a 3TD effort in the 2nd quarter to push past the Virginia Cavaliers, 28-20. The Bruin offense on the other hand, looked like a team with no idea what is going on. With the Bruin’s starting center out with a knee injury, UCLA was abysmal in most aspects of their game, especially surrounding the offensive line. Luckily, it is only the first game in a long season and the Bruin defense showed why they are one of the best in the Pac-12.
Things did not start well for UCLA, especially on offense. The Bruins promisingly connected on a 48-yard pass from Brett Hundley to Eldridge Massington on the first play of the game, but ended the drive on a missed field goal attempt by Kaimi Fairbairn. Things were not that great to start for UCLA as Hundley was sacked twice in the first quarter. The loss of center Jake Brendel really hurt the effectiveness of the O-line, especially since all five guys seemed out of sync.
Things just continued to get weird and unfortunate for UCLA as Ishmael Adams returned a punt for a TD, but called back on a questionable rule. Priest Willis had his helmet knocked off on the return and put it back on, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
Luckily, the UCLA defense was great. Owamagbe Odighizuwa started things off on Virginia’s first drive of the second quarter as he deflected a pass that landed in Adam’s hands. He had nothing but field in front of him for the pick six, UCLA was up 7-0.
Eight and a half minutes left in the 2nd, Virginia was able to get on the board and make the score 7-3. But then more Bruin defense happened.
UCLA’s defense scored on consecutive Virginia offensive possessions. Randall Goforth scooped up a fumble for a 75-yard TD return and then Eric Kendricks got a pick six for 37-yard TD. It was 21-3, UCLA.
As stated before, the Bruin defense was great. The offense, not so much. UCLA’s offense only managed 136 total yards in the first half. Virginia gained 245 and landed a 29-yard TD catch to make it 21-10 at halftime.
And can we talk about penalties? What plauged the Bruins early last season seems to have come back to haunt them again. For the game, UCLA committed 12 penalties for 87 yards. Virginia only committed four 4 for 20 yards.
Caleb Benenoch called for his 4th penalty, 3rd false start. Nobody on that line has played well.
— Jordan Lee (@jordantlee) August 30, 2014
UCLA started the second half on a good drive, but a miscue on fourth down within striking distance of the red zone gave the ball back to UVA. On their ensuing possession, the Cavaliers scored to make it 21-17.
UCLA had a chance to score on a few promising possessions, but seemed to get stopped every time they had the ball. The Bruins did finally manage to get an offensive score as Hundley ran it in just before thens of the 3rd quarter to make it 28-17. The Bruins had the most consistency in that scoring drive than they did all game. UVA continued their poise as they brought the game to within 8 after a field goal that finished up a promising drive. It was 28-20, which is the way it ended, but not before both teams failed on attempts to close out this game.
“Escaped.” That is the word that describes this game for UCLA. The fact that the offense could not do a thing against Virginia is very concerning, but it is only the first game. There are two Bruins on the line that will soon return from injuries, the jitters of the preseason are gone and the Bruins return to the Rose Bowl next week for some much needed home field loving. Expect things to be tightened up by next week’s game against Memphis.
As for the defense, they played as well as any team without an offense could have. Virginia had the ball neary ten more minutes than UCLA… the defense was on the field a lot. That cannot happen anymore, not with the Bruins having to go against the likes of Stanford and Oregon.
Still, the Bruins are 1-0 and now look forward to that long, awkward 5-hour flight home.
The Go Joe Bruin Players of the Game: The entire defense!
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) August 30, 2014