UCLA Football: 2016 results and analysis

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PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 01: Nate Starks
PASADENA, CA – OCTOBER 01: Nate Starks /

Game 5 – Win vs Arizona  45-24

The UCLA Football team started off slow against an Arizona Wildcats team that was giving up almost 40 points a game.

The Bruins took an early 14-0 lead but couldn’t seem to find a  way to keep the momentum going.

The game really turned into a quagmire after a  touchdown run by RB Bolu Olorunfunmi put the Bruins on the board and touchdown pass from Rosen to Darren Andrews as the quarter gave the Bruins the early lead.

The second half was a complete turnaround for the Bruins’ offense.

Rosen opened the scoring with a terrific pass to Theo Howard. The offense continued to roll and outscored Arizona 31-10 in the second half until Arizona scored a late touchdown.

Rosen had one of his best games going 20 for 37, 350 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

Nate Starks also had his best game of the season rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Game 6 – Loss at Arizona State  23-20

The Bruins ran into a hot Sun Devils team on a warm Saturday evening. Arizona State was off to a 4-1 start with their only loss to USC the week before; although the early teams on their schedule had been less than stellar, Northern Arizona, a Texas Tech squad with a porous defense, and a rebuilding Cal Bears team.

Perhaps the Bruins thought Arizona State’s record was better than the actual team.

Once again, in a trend we saw in the 2016 team, the Bruins were involved in a slow first half. Both kickers on each team were the stars as field goals were exchanged for a 3-3 first half score.

The second half, well mostly the third quarter, saw most of the scoring. Rosen hit Lasley for a 52 yard touchdown and JJ Molson was good on a short field goal. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils’ offense struck with two touchdowns building a 10 point lead.

The Bruins were able to as close a 23-20 early in the fourth but that would be the end of the scoring for both teams.

This would be Rosen’s final game as a shoulder injury would sideline him for the rest of the season.

Game 7 – Loss at Washington State  27-21

Turnovers doomed any chance of a UCLA victory up in Pullman. Two interceptions thrown by Mike Fafaul in his first start and two fumbles were too much for the Bruins to overcome.

Down 24-7 entering the fourth quarter, Fafaul threw a touchdown pass to Jordan Lasley and then connected with Darren Andrews. In between UCLA’s two scores, Washington State kicked a 36 yard field goal making it 27-21.

Lasley then fumbled the ball on their next possession and, after forcing a Cougars punt, Fafaul threw his second and most costly interception.

Fafaul didn’t look too bad in his first start throwing three TDs but his interception late in the game ended a possible game winning drive.

Turnovers would turn out of be a costly UCLA Football trend in 2016.

Game 8 – Loss vs (19) Utah 52-45

The Bruins came out guns blazin’ against the Utes with Mike Fafaul throwing the ball 70 times. Half of the plan worked with Fafaul tossing five touchdowns. Unfortunately, with the high amount of passes came some poor decisions resulting in four interceptions.

It also didn’t help that Utah’s running back Joe Williams came out of retirement to run for 332 yards and four touchdowns. (Side note: Williams’ 332 rushing yards was more than UCLA’s leading rusher, Soso Jamabo 321, had for the entire season)

The Bruins had no answer for Williams and Utah kept feeding him the ball. His 29 carries were five more than the number of passes attempted by Utes’ quarterback Troy Williams.

Fafaul had another productive game, excluding the interceptions, but the Bruins’ defense just didn’t have any luck stopping Joe Williams.