“Goodness Gracious Sakes Alive!!”
That’s what the late great coach John Wooden would have said if he saw UCLA’s football team play their latest game.
That mascot in the picture may be smiling, but I know for sure that no one in Bruin Nation’s smiling this morning.
I know I’ve said this before the Oregon State and Washington State games, and now I’m going to say it again:
After the 48-12 massacre that the UCLA Bruins took at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson in which the Bruins, particularly on defense, played as bad and undisciplined as a football team can play, a loss in their next game will pretty much signal the end of their season.
But let’s get back to the futility that was shown by Rick Neuheisel’s team on Thursday night…
In the first half, Arizona – led by new interim coach Tim Kish after Mike Stoops was fired – had the ball six times.
They scored touchdowns each time, five of them as a result of long drives and four of them in the second quarter alone.
They converted every third down on offense except for once, when they converted on fourth down.
UCLA didn’t help matters any with a fumble by Johnathan Franklin, who had a grand total of 11 yards on the ground, and Nelson Rosario having the ball stripped from him on a drive, and dropping two passes in another series.
Try not to be too hard on Franklin, though – The Bruin rushing attack netted a grand total of 37 yards.
The 11 penalties for 105 yards that the Bruins committed, many of them happening when they were driving and in the red zone that effectively stopped any momentum they may have gotten, was like a big albatross around their neck.
The second half? Though UCLA did gain some yards in some of their possessions, it was mostly a bunch of three-and-outs along with more penalties and mistakes.
All of this against an Arizona defense that was fourth worst in the FBS, giving up an average of 38 points a game.
I don’t even want to mention the fact that the Bruins gave up 573 yards to Arizona, including 254 yards on the ground to a rushing offense ranked 119th out of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Nor will I dwell on Nick Foles’ 291 yards and three touchdowns to Gino Crimp in the air, or Juron Criner’s ten receptions for 101 yards.
And we didn’t even get to the worst part of this so-called game: a bench-clearing brawl right before the end of the first half which featured wide receiver Taylor Embree getting ejected after throwing a punch.
Embree will sit out the first half of the Bruins’ next game as per Pac-12 rules, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more players disciplined, if not suspended, once the tape of the fight has been seen.
At least Kevin Prince didn’t wilt in the desert, with his 286 yards passing and, more importantly, no interceptions or injuries – that was something positive, as was Tyler Gonzalez’s first collegiate field goal, a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Not bad for someone who a month ago was the manager for UCLA’s men’s soccer team, washing uniforms and taking care of the equipment.
Barring a win in their next outing against California in the Rose Bowl next Saturday, however – despite what Dan Guerrero said during the game about his job being safe – Neuheisel has all but become a lame duck coach, especially after that brawl.
Would you believe that this is Arizona’s first win over an FBS team since they beat the Bruins last October 30th, a span of ten straight FBS losses; it’s gotten to the point where if the Wildcats played UCLA every game, they’d be in the BCS championship.
Just trying to make a little joke in the midst of all the frustration, tension, and depression in Bruin Nation.
I suppose there’s nothing more to say about the Bruins, except that they need to somehow regroup after this beat down behind the woodshed, and focus on beating the California Golden Bears on October 29th, which is a week from this Saturday.
Because like the Oregon State and Washington State games, this upcoming match up against their older U.C. brothers from Berkeley will be for UCLA’s survival.