UCLA Football has lost two games in a row after starting the season at 2-0. This week, the Colorado Buffaloes stampede into the Rose Bowl. Here’s how UCLA can grab a win and set things rolling in the right direction again.
That’s a pity because UCLA Football is amazing at offense. The offense averages 571.8 yards a game and that is good for 5th in the nation. Josh Rosen is so good that he leads the nation in passing and scoring. Yet, the Bruins are 2-2.
Do we have to talk about the Stanford game? Do we have to? Fine. Here’s what Bryce Love did against UCLA.
A lot of UCLA’s defensive woes boil down to technique issues. When defenders aren’t over pursuing, they are getting out of their gaps and making it easy to create running lanes.
If you don’t have time to watch the video above, allow me to summarize: 30 carries for 263 yards and one touchdown. In case you hadn’t already noticed, Love plays for Stanford and not UCLA so that was zero fun. No fun at all.
Let’s look on the bright side though. The season is not over. UCLA Football can still turn things around. No, really. Why are you laughing? I’m serious.
The coaches reinstated tackling at practice this week and that could help. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley has a good reputation and hasn’t forgotten how to coach defense. Maybe the game against Colorado this week can begin the turnaround. Here’s what the Bruins must do to win.
1. Tackle the problem
A lot of UCLA’s defensive woes boil down to technique issues. When defenders aren’t over pursuing, they are getting out of their gaps and making it easy to create running lanes. In the open field, defenders often go for big hits instead of wrapping up and making the sure tackle. One example comes to mind from the game last week. UCLA football was behind, had just scored a touchdown and was looking to get the ball back.
On a key 4th down, the Cardinal decided to go for it. Back up quarterback KJ Costello threw the ball short of the sticks and there were three Bruin defenders surrounding the Stanford receiver. Instead of making the sure tackle, all three players went for a big hit and the receiver fought through them and got the first down. Limit plays like that against Colorado and there’s a chance.
2. Slow down the run enough to let Rosen and the O shine
For three weeks, I asked UCLA Football to stop the run. Then I moved on. Last week, I hoped they could hold Love to less than 200 yards. Now, I’m grading on a curve. Colorado’s running game averages 141.5 yards per game. Senior RB Phillip Lindsay has already tallied 446 yards through the ground this season. Rosen and co. can outscore the Buffaloes if the Bruin defense can stop Lindsay from dictating the action on Saturday.
3. Limit mistakes
Missed tackles, untimely penalties, dropped passes and costly turnovers helped sink the Bruins the past two weeks. That’s how a team can average 40 points per game in their last two games and go 0-2. It’s just not realistic to expect a Jim Mora team to play a mistake free game. His teams have notoriously racked up penalties over the years.
However, limiting errors would go a long way towards turning things around. UCLA Football has played four games this season and had to chase the game in three of the four. So far, they have only won one of those three games (the Texas A&M game). Simply put, self-inflicted wounds are not part of a recipe for success.
The Bruins square off against the Buffaloes on Saturday, September 30th at the Rose Bowl. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm Pacific Standard Time (PST).