With UCLA on a bye this week, it has given me time to reflect on the season and analyze what has gone so wrong this year. Let’s take a look at every part of the team and grade their performance thus far.
Josh Rosen was under performing to all of our lofty standards in the beginning of the year and it was a major disappointment for all that love UCLA. We expected Rosen to take another step forward but instead he allowed a sophomore slump consume him. Then, the unthinkable happens. Rosen goes out and is out indefinitely with nerve damage in his shoulder. UCLA is forced to give the ball to Mike Fafaul for seemingly the rest of the season. But he has been surprisingly decent for the Bruins. With no running game (oh trust me, we’ll get to the running backs), Fafaul has had decent success. He broke school records against Utah and was one possession away from beating Washington State. But both games still resulted in a loss. The quarterbacks haven’t had much help, but with your starter out and the backup turning over the football, it’s hard to give the play callers a higher grade than a C minus.
Running Backs: D-
UCLA averages 2.8 yards per rush. That is horrendous. Soso Jamabo, Bolu Olorunfunmi and Nate Starks all have double digit touches and haven’t done anything with it. Last week, Olorunfunmi took the majority of the carries and seems to be the lead back after coach Jim Mora had been using a running back by committee system. This has been the most anemic part of the offense and has been a burden on the whole team. With no running game to account for, defenses have just played the pass and allow the Bruins to attempt to run. Fafaul broke a UCLA passing game record last week but, it wasn’t because he was playing well, it was because UCLA didn’t run the ball the entire game. The running game has been one of the lowest points in the year and it would have been easy to give them an F but, Olorunfunmi taking the bulk of the snaps will hopefully help the running game since he is seemingly the best back the Bruins have.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: D+
So. Many. Drops. This has been the most painful group of players to watch in the offense. There have been so many back breaking drops this year and they just stand out when a third party just starts watching a UCLA game. Rosen or Fafaul can throw all the beautiful passes they want but, if Darren Andrews or Jordan Lasley can’t catch the ball then there’s no point. It is incredibly frustrating for the team watching touchdowns hit the grass and it shows. After a drop, the team look deflated and if they get a first down after then they were given a gift. Nate Iese has emerged as Fafaul’s favorite target but even he drops passes and murders any momentum the Bruins had. If UCLA wants to become bowl eligible, the pass catchers need to play better, especially with no run game. The Bruins will have to lean on these groups of guys and their season will depend on their performance.
Offensive Line: F
Our first F, how exciting. You can argue that the root of every UCLA offensive problem stems from the terrible play from the offensive line. Under three yards per carry for the running game, the starting world class quarterback hurt, all can be tracked back to the offensive line. They haven’t been able to block anyone this year. The only game they’ve performed well in was against Utah when they rushed three people because they knew UCLA wouldn’t be able to run the ball. It doesn’t matter who is at quarterback when the offensive line is letting people to them inside of one second. I have joined the fire Adrian Klemm movement. He is the Run Game Coordinator and Offensive Line coach, the coach of the two worst parts of the offense. If you’re the coach of the two worst parts of the offense, you should be gone. But by the end of the season, everyone might be gone.
I put the entire defense together because as a unit they’ve been playing really well. Before Utah, they gave up 30 points once and that was in Overtime against a top 10 Texas A&M team. They’re the reason UCLA was in every game this year and has impressed me throughout the entire year. Takk McKinley and the defensive line have been impressive throughout the whole year. On his own, McKinley has seven sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. The Defensive Backs have been led by Mr. Do-it-all, Randal Goforth. They have forced nine interceptions on the year but have got them when they needed them. They’ve been great but then last week happened. Utah torched the entire defense and by Utah I mean Joe Williams. Williams ran up and down the field the whole day and put up a season high 52 points this year. They embarrassed the whole defense and it will be interesting to watch how the defense bounces back next week with a bye week to figure out what went wrong.
Special Team: C-
I’ll keep this brief since not many people care about special teams, sorry not sorry. JJ Molson is 9-14 this year, disappointing. No kick returns this year. And UCLA has tried using four punters this year. What are you doing Mora?