UCLA Defense Gets Run Over by Utah, 44-24
Defensive woes continue to plague the Bruins.
The good news for UCLA is that the Bruin offense didn’t stall tonight like it did in the second and third quarters against Oregon. In fact, the offense moved the ball relatively well in all four quarters, especially considering that backup quarterback Ethan Garbers started and played the entire game rather than Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
The bad news is that UCLA defense showed yet again why Jerry Azzinaro needs to be shown the door as soon as possible. Azzinaro’s much-maligned defense actually found a new way to lose tonight’s game. Unlike the Bruins’ other losses, Utah did not exploit UCLA’s weak pass defense.
Instead, the Utes decided to use the gro nd game to steamroll the Bruins. Utah running back Tavion Thomas ran the ball 24 times for 160 yards and four touchdowns. Utah quarterback Cameron Rising ran six times for 63 yards and a touchdown. All told, the Bruins gave up 290 yards on the ground.
Rising also completed 17 of 27 attempts for 179 yards and a passing touchdown.
Utah won the coin toss and that could have just called the game at that point. That’s because the Utes drive 75 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Bruins responded, but the response was just a field goal and that was all the scoring in the first quarter.
But the Utes drove another 75 yards on ten plays this time to go up 14-3.
When Garbers got back on the field, he led the Bruins on their first touchdown drive of the game and their only one of the first half. He took 12 plays to move UCLA 75 yards including the final 30 yards which came on a scamper by Zach Charbonnet.
But the defense gave up two more touchdowns in the first half. The first came on another 75-yard Utah drive that ended in the end zone while the second came on the heels of an interception thrown by Garbers that gave Utah the ball on UCLA’s 17-yard line. Tavion Thomas ran it ten yards for the score.
That made the score 28-10 at the half.
UCLA’s defense came out after halftime and held the Utes scoreless in the third quarter, but it didn’t matter as the damage had already been done.
Just over midway through the third, Garbers led UCLA out for a drive that started on their own nine and he immediately picked up 41 yards on a pass to Chase Cota. A 27-yard toss to Kyle Philips put the ball on the Utah 6-yard line. He then found Michael Ezeike in the end zone for a 6-yard score and UCLA was down 28-17.
Utah responded with another 75-yard drive, giving the Utes a 35-17 lead.
Despite that, the Bruins weren’t done yet. Garbers led the Bruins down the field and he eventually found Greg Dulcich in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass and UCLA trailed 35-24.
The Bruin defense finally forced a second punt of the game, which was the second quick kick of the night by Rising. This time, UCLA got the ball on the Utes’ 2-yard line.
The Bruins began their drive with one of the most bizarre play calls of the Chip Kelly era when the head coach called a pass play which saw Garbers get sacked in the end zone for a safety, effectively ending the game as UCLA now trailed 37-24 with a little more than seven minutes to go, though it still wasn’t over for the Bruin defense which added insult to injury by giving up one more rushing touchdown to the Utes en route to a 44-24 final.
UCLA is off next week and will return to action against Colorado at the Rose Bowl on November 13th.