UCLA Football: Texas A&M post game wrap up and analysis


It wasn’t the outing the UCLA Football team was looking for and in fact there may be more questions left to answer. One thing we know for sure, that Bruin QB is the stuff of legend.

After months of waiting for the season to kick off, the UCLA Football Bruins entered the game with plenty of hype looking to get started fast. While their first drive looked okay they stalled in the redzone and settled for three points. Still there were good things to take away from that first drive. The pass protection while not great was competent. There was also attempts made to run the football and Bolu Olorunfunmi gained nine yards on the first three carries of the game.

Then the Aggies came out and started making it look easy. They quickly drove downfield with a mixture of pass and run behind QB Nick Starkel. Running backs Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams were running wild on the UCLA Football nickel package and WR Christian Kirk was consistently open.

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That theme continued for the rest of the first half. The Bruins in their 4-2-5 alignment were gashed over and over on the ground by the Aggies. A&M ran the same running play probably about 10 times tonight with two pulling offensive linemen.  The result? The Bruins were outnumbered to whatever side the run went to and surrendered big yards.

Offensively the Bruins were a mess through the first half and QB Josh Rosen took a beating physically. His offensive line couldn’t protect him with the longer developing routes downfield and the drops that plagued the team in 2016 reared their ugly head.

The protection that seemed decent on the first drive quickly withered and the line was quick to give up pressure especially on the edges. Aggie DE Jarrett Johnson ate UCLA Football LT Kolton Miller’s lunch on multiple occasions throughout the game.

Fall camp surprise WR Christian Pabico saw the field early but couldn’t develop any chemistry with Rosen.

RB Bolu Olorunfunmi turned the ball over and in my opinion continued to have questionable vision. He was actually outplayed in my opinion by Soso Jamabo who strangely didn’t have a touch well into the game.

This team looked like a complete mess by the time the half came to an end. Despite getting a score before the half ended, the Aggies responded immediately with a 60 yard touchdown run. They were down 38-10 and to be honest it didn’t even seem that close. Rosen came up limping after the last UCLA Football possession giving every Bruin fan a near heart attack. It was so bad that the crowd could be heard chanting “fire Mora” even for those watching on t.v.

Then things started to get a little interesting. Freshman Aggie Kellen Mond saw some spot duty in the first half for Starkel but when Starkel went down with a foot injury, the young dual threat  freshman ended up playing pretty much the entire second half. The entire game changed started to change at point.

The Bruins started playing much tighter man coverage outside and sold out against the run daring the Aggies to throw the ball instead of running out the clock with such a massive lead. Curiously enough A&M OC Noel Mazzone obliged and calling passing plays when he didn’t need to. The results weren’t immediate but the game board was beginning to shift.

Things didn’t look much better until about three quarters of the third quarter when the Bruins got their first points since the second quarter. Still they were facing a 44-17 uphill battle with just a little over a quarter of play left.

Then the Rosen magic started taking over. Rosen to TE Caleb Wilson became an unstoppable connection with Wilson ending his night with 15 grabs for 208 yards and multiple first down conversions. That connection should only get stronger as the season rolls on with Rosen clearly being very comfortable with Wilson.

The Bruins started scoring but given the huge lead by the Aggies it seemed like garbage time scoring. Then the points kept rolling in and Rosen kept dealing. It wasn’t just Rosen making plays but it also seemed like lady luck bet on the Bruins to win tonight as well. Twice Rosen made ill-advised throws and both times they ended up touchdowns.

The defense tightened up and applied constant pressure on Mond. Keisean Lucier-South, Jaelan Phillips, Matt Dickerson, Rick Wade and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner kicked it into high gear and totaled six sacks for the game. The other major defensive development was the Bruins going with a much more heavy 4-3 look that helped them in the numbers game against the run.

Even the UCLA Football offensive line started playing better. Both Kolton Miller and Andre James were able to give Rosen the time he needed and center Scott Quessenberry played some of his best football to date.

By the time the Aggies knew what hit them the Bruins were close on their heels with a touchdown toss to Theo Howard that brought them within six points of a tie. UCLA then forced a punt and with the score 44-38 Aggies, began their game winning drive. It was a 10 play 66 yard drive that culminated with a fake spike and subsequent TD pass to Jordan Lasley in the corner of the endzone. With shades of Dan Marino, Rosen brought the Bruins all the way back to give the UCLA Football program their first win of the season over a big name opponent.

The game wasn’t clean. It wasn’t pretty. This UCLA Football team has tons to clean up including penalties, execution and in some cases play calling but what we saw from Rosen has to get people excited. Tom Bradley, Hank Fraley and Jedd Fisch all made second half adjustments that helped put this team in a position to come back.

Next: UCLA Football: 5 things to watch for in the season opener

The season isn’t won or lost in week one. But it can set the tone for your season. What kind of tone did this game set? This team is filled with fighters. They’ll fight for 60 minutes, they’ll fight for their home turf, they’ll fight for one another and clearly they showed tonight that they’ll fight for their coaches.