UCLA vs. Colorado: 10 Things We Learned in the Bruins' Win over the Buffaloes
The UCLA Bruins got back to their winning ways with a 45-23 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes at the Rose Bowl.
Brett Hundley was a superhero Saturday night for the Bruins. He was incredibly effective in both passing and rushing the football, as he accounted for four touchdowns on the night. Devin Fuller was the recipient of two of those touchdowns and finished with 99 receiving yards on three grabs.
Colorado played very competitively in this contest. True freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau showed a ton of guile and heart, but it wasn't enough for the Buffaloes on Saturday night.
Here are 10 things we learned in the Bruins' victory over the Buffaloes.
Colorado Started off Very Strong
For 14 minutes in the first quarter, the Buffaloes absolutely dominated.
UCLA couldn't sustain anything offensively, and the Buffs were moving the ball down the field at will. Liufau had a great command of the offense. He was clinical with his throws to open receivers. The pinpoint accuracy that he displayed allowed for Colorado to sustain drives and control the clock.
Defensively, Colorado was flying around and making life difficult on Hundley and the UCLA offense. The run game in the first stanza was neutralized, and the UCLA wideouts were not able to gain separation.
In the last minute of the first quarter, UCLA receiver Devin Fuller got loose on a 76-yard touchdown reception. It was the only blemish in the quarter for Mike MacIntyre's team.
UCLA Suffered from an Emotional Hangover
There was a definite emotional hangover from the losses to Stanford and Oregon the past two weeks for the Bruins.
UCLA didn't come out Saturday night with any sense of urgency or excitement. Colorado is not a superior team in any stretch of the imagination. Regardless, the Buffaloes imposed their will on the Bruins with little resistance.
It wasn't until the second half when UCLA effectively woke up with visible emotion. If the Bruins are to win the Pac-12 South, Jim Mora's bunch can't have another first half like the one played in Saturday's game.
Brett Hundley Looked Like Brett Hundley
After two lackluster games against Stanford and Oregon, Brett Hundley looked like the Brett Hundley of last year.
The signal-caller easily had his best game of the season. He went 19-of-24 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team with 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Hundley was very efficient and accurate, two adjectives that were absent when describing his game the past two weeks. He was decisive with his throws down the field and ran when he needed to escape the pocket.
This game was truly the best remedy for the struggles Hundley has dealt with recently. He should now have the confidence to look downfield for receivers, and it should in theory propel him to a strong second half of the season
Sefo Liufau Is a Player
Sefo Liufau is the unquestioned quarterback of the future for the Colorado program.
The true freshman went 25-of-36 for 247 yards and a touchdown. Liufau is a very heady player, often scanning the field for open receivers. He put the requisite amount of touch on throws and thus was very accurate.
More than anything, he displayed an immense amount of toughness. He took tremendous amounts of physical punishment from UCLA defenders Ellis McCarthy and Anthony Barr. However, he picked himself up off the floor and never left with any sort of injury.
The Buffaloes need an influx of talent at multiple positions. The skill positions need a big upgrade overall, as does the defensive line.
However, quarterback isn't one of them.
Welcome to the Party, Damien Thigpen
Fully healthy from ACL surgery, Damien Thigpen flashed the quickness Saturday night that UCLA desperately needs on its offense.
The speedster rushed only four times, but he ran for 38 yards and scored a touchdown. His burst was noticeably better than other back on the Bruins' roster.
Thigpen truly does add a dynamic element to UCLA's offense. He needs to be utilized more and more as the season goes on. His ability out of the backfield on screens and wheel routes makes him a very valuable commodity.
Devin Fuller Is UCLA's Best Offensive Threat
In Saturday's game against Colorado, Fuller demonstrated why he's the best skill position player on the UCLA roster.
He had three catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns. On the last play in the first quarter, Fuller hauled in a 76-yard bomb for a long score. He also scored on a eight-yard rush off of a swing pass. For the season, Fuller leads the Bruins in receptions (34) and touchdowns (four).
Fuller has the best combination of quickness and route running on the roster. It seems as if Hundley and Fuller are developing a nice accord right now.
Ellis McCarthy Continues to Flash
Ellis McCarthy was a 5-star prospect coming out of high school.
He's battled injury and inconsistency thus far during his tenure at UCLA. Now as a sophomore, it appears as if the proverbial light is starting to turn on.
McCarthy was relentless in his pursuit of Colorado's signal-caller. Not only did he register a sack, but he virtually lived in the Colorado backfield. This comes on the heels of a strong game in the previous week against Oregon.
If McCarthy can continue to play with this level of consistency, it will enhance the entire play of UCLA's defensive line considerably.
Colorado Failed to Take Advantage of Opportunities/Special Teams Problems
Colorado squandered multiple opportunities Saturday night that could have made the game interesting.
There were three possessions in which Colorado's offense sputtered in the end zone. Instead of punching it in for touchdowns, the Buffaloes settled for field goals. Kicker Will Oliver connected on only three of his five field-goal opportunities.
In the second quarter, returner Ryan Severson fumbled a kickoff. The turnover ultimately was converted into a UCLA touchdown.
For a team of Colorado's caliber, the team has to perform well on special teams. Dually, the team has to convert on opportunities against a ranked team on the road if there's any shot at the upset.
Colorado Needs an Influx of Talent at the Skill Positions
The Buffaloes look to have their quarterback of the future in Liufau.
For Liufau to be effective, the supporting cast needs to be upgraded. Outside of Paul Richardson, there's no one on Colorado's offense who strikes fear into the opposition. Even more than that, there's not a skill position player with the ability to make a big play and stretch the field consistently.
The overall speed in regard to the wide receiver corps is something that should be addressed via recruiting. Giving Liufau some weapons to throw to will give Colorado its best shot at winning down the road.
This Was a Big Win for UCLA
UCLA was expected to win this game.
The Bruins did take care of business and won by a relatively large margin. Although the team didn't look great, the win was very significant.
Colorado was the perfect opponent for the Bruins, coming off of two disappointing losses. This win allowed Hundley to have success on the field and also find confidence that's been sorely lacking.
There are some problems to note. The running game has been stalled the past five weeks. The return of Jordon James should be able to aid in that department. The offensive line play seemingly is always a question mark as well.
But for now, it's a good win for a team desperately needing one.
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