In what turned out to be a shocking loss for the UCLA Football program, the Bruins fell just short of another stellar comeback against a high powered offense as a trip up to Stanford looms.
The Memphis Tigers weren’t done after scoring late in the first half and returned to the combination that had worked so well for them at the end of the half. The Tigers marched downfield on what was a flag filled drive and QB Riley Ferguson found WR Anthony Miller for another TD at Darnay Holmes‘ expense.
Holmes had a rough day as Miller worked him over pretty good with his quick twitch style and toughness. Miller’s hands might just be some of the best in college football this year.
QB Josh Rosen wasn’t going to go away quietly though and on the next UCLA Football drive he found WR Darren Andrews for a 65 yard score. Andrews split two defenders and turned on the jets to score but what was most impressive was the throw itself. Rosen visibly took some heat off the throw and it dropped perfectly into the waiting hands of Andrews.
Following an impressive stop by the Bruin defense things got a little hairy.
Rosen got greedy after taking a sack and on third and long, threw a pick six that put the Tigers up 41-31. The Bruins responded quickly with a 21 yard strike to Jordan Lasley. Then the UCLA Football defense came up with a quick fumble recovery but then both teams traded away punts.
Memphis was able to pin UCLA at their own one yard line but the Bruins drove downfield with relative ease to score again. This time it was a 22-yard dart to TE Austin Roberts. Still it was another peak in a game littered with valleys for this UCLA Football offense.
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The running game was spotty and even though there were instances of success, those instances were far a few between in an already light run diet. The Bruins preferred to put the game on the shoulders of their QB who prior to his pick six had yet to throw an interception all season.
This was a different kind of game. Rosen ended his day with two interceptions a number of questionable throws. The ugliest of his two interceptions was especially costly with the Bruins in the redzone looking to at least tie the game at 48. The play itself was a mess from the start and RB Jalen Starks, who did some good things today, didn’t move at the snap forcing Rosen to ditch it early for the easy pick. His talent is out of this world but he is the main threat on this offense and essentially as goes Rosen so go the Bruins.
He did have 463 yards through the air and four scores but his 8.3 yards per attempt matched his yards per attempt against the Aggies. A quick fall back to earth after he averaged 12.9 ypa against Hawaii and an 88% completion percentage.
That wasn’t the only let down today as the injury bugged continued to bite into the second half. Stud Freshman DE Jaelan Phillips had his ankle rolled up and was in obvious pain on the field before being helped off. He didn’t put any weight on the leg as he came off the field and then was carted away once on the sideline.
Osa Odighizuwa will also miss some time as he was ejected for targeting on a hit against Ferguson that was questionable even though Osa did lower his helmet. He will miss the first half against Stanford next week and had started to emerge as a solid depth option along the DL.
Speaking of targeting, LB Josh Woods came back in the second half of the game after serving his suspension and while he boosted the level of play of the LB group with his return he also notched a bad unnecessary roughness penalty on a late hit out of bounds.
If we look at what good came out of this game the UCLA Football defense was able to see what they had in players like LB Krys Barnes, RB Jalen Starks and Keisean Lucier-South who saw plenty of action today.
One guy to really keep an eye on especially with Osa facing suspension was DT Chigozie Nnoruka who was active in the interior of the line and made a few splash tackles including a sack.
Then again it is really hard to look at the positives when the negatives seem so bad. The Bruins lose this game on a turnover on downs but it really was the turnovers that doomed them and the inability to find an answer for Miller or Ferguson.
The Bruins are now a week away from next week’s match up against the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto. Can the UCLA Football defense get some of their starters back and get healthy as they face the bullies of the North? Or will this loss leave the Bruins with a hangover?