UCLA Does Just Enough to Knock Off Washington 24-17
The Bruins were able to ride an elite rushing attack to victory yet again.
Sometimes, you don’t have to be at your best to secure a victory, and that’s ok.
Case in point: the UCLA Bruins were wildly inconsistent in this game. The Bruins raced out to a 17-3 lead in the first half before letting an anemic Washington Huskies offense come roaring back to tie the game. The Bruins were able to put together one last scoring drive in the 4th quarter, got a magnificent turnover late, and were able to run the clock out to secure a 24-17 road victory.
The UCLA offense was, for the most part, solid in this game. After a poor opening drive, the Bruins got going in a big way, scoring on every single drive for the rest of the first half until missing an end-of-half 54-yard field goal attempt. The third quarter was a different story - the Bruins had two drives, gained 47 yards in total on 13 plays, and held the ball for a combined five minutes. The offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter, putting together a 13 play, 90-yard touchdown drive to retake the lead. After an interception, the Bruins were able to calmly end the game by grinding out a series of first downs to remove the final five minutes off the clock.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson was good in this game. His final stat line (21-26 for 183 yards and two touchdowns) looks really good, but it does hide the fact that UCLA utilized a lot of jet sweeps and inside pitch plays that technically count as passes but would be closer to runs. There was still the usual mix of skip passes and balls thrown that prevented receivers from getting yards after the catch, but this was much better than he was against Arizona. DTR did more of his damage in the run game, rushing 12 times for 87 yards and picking his spots efficiently.
That was the real story of this game for the offense because the run game really was dominant. The Bruins ran for 237 yards in total, with Zach Charbonnet, Brittain Brown, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson each running for over six YPC. Charbonnet took on true lead-back duties in this one, running 21 times and picking up 131 yards on the ground while also catching the ball twice for ten yards. Brittain Brown was used very sparingly but did see a ton of run as a dump-off option in the passing game.
Switching over to the defense….I don’t know. From a total stats standpoint, holding Washington to 267 yards and only 17 points feels like a win, but it is important to remember that Washington is incredibly bad at offense. Watching the game, it became pretty clear that if the Huskies had someone decent at quarterback, they could have won the game. But they don’t, and the fact that Washington ran a 31-30 run-pass split is evidence enough that they don’t trust their quarterback. That said, Washington was able to find plenty of success when they actually did throw, and it really felt like the Huskies were picking on Cam Johnson in coverage.
Let’s quickly mention the interception at the end of the game, with Devin Kirkwood making an exceptional play on an underthrown ball from Dylan Morris. Kirkwood is probably the most purely talented player in the secondary, so seeing him get the pivotal turnover in this spot is really nice and a great sign for him going forward.
UCLA is now 5-2, which now gives them the most wins in a season under Chip Kelly. With Arizona State’s loss to Utah tonight, the Pac-12 South is back up for grabs, which makes UCLA’s upcoming home game against a suddenly-struggling Oregon all the more important. Should be an interesting one.