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Sunday Morning QB (Monday Edition): Bruins Defense Key to Win over UC Berkeley
The Bruins had five sacks for just the second time under Chip Kelly.
What a difference a week makes! Yesterday, UCLA reached the .500 mark for the first time in the Chip Kelly era.
If there were a lot of negatives to write about following the Colorado game, there are an equal amount of positives to write about following yesterday’s win.
In fact, UCLA managed to take just about every aspect of the game that they fell short in against Colorado and turn it into a positive during yesterday’s win.
First and foremost, there was the turnover game. As I flipped back and forth from game to game on Saturday, one of the announcers — I forget which one — said that the biggest correlation between winning and losing is turnovers. I’m not sure if that’s scientifically true, but, at the very least, it makes sense. Teams that take the ball away from their opponents win and teams that give the ball away lose. After all, it’s hard to score when you don’t have the ball.
When your offense isn’t giving the ball away, it makes it more possible for your offense to score and, when your offense doesn’t give the ball away deep in your own territory, it makes it harder for your opponent to score.
Equally important, if not more so, was the overall play of the Bruin defense. Not only did the defense shut the Bears out in the second half, they held UC Berkeley to just 54 yards rushing after giving up 264 yards to Colorado last week.
But rush defense wasn’t the only area where the Bruin defense excelled against the Bears. UCLA only allowed 122 yards through the air after giving up 261 against the Buffaloes. In his postgame press conference, UCLA head coach Chip Kelly mentioned that, because new UC Berkeley offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave didn’t coach last year, they went back and looked at tape from the Denver Broncos in 2018. That’s where Musgrave coached last. Ultimately, it was successful.
To be fair, the Golden Bears seemed to be struggling running the new offense. This was their first game running it and it showed.
But it doesn’t matter. If we’re going to bemoan the job the defense does in a game like last week, we need to give the defense credit in holding an opponent to just 10 points and keeping them under 200 total yards offensively.
The Bruin defense did a heck of a job getting to the quarterback. They sacked Garbers five times. UCLA has sacked the quarterback at least five times just twice under Kelly. The last time it happened was last season against Stanford, a game the Bruins won 34-16. Coincidentally, that was also the last game that the UCLA defense held an opponent under 200 yards of total offense.
Of course, just because the Bruins are now .500 for the first time under Kelly, it doesn’t mean that the football program is suddenly good. This week, the Bruins face #11 Oregon in Eugene. UCLA has started as a 14-point underdog in this game. Realistically, that may not be enough for the Bruins to cover the spread. So far this season, the Ducks have beaten both Stanford and Washington State.
To win Saturday against the Ducks, UCLA will need to play nearly flawless football. Yesterday’s game showed that it’s possible, but the Ducks are a better team than the Bears. Hopefully, the Bruins will be ready for the challenge.