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UCLA vs. Virginia: Game Grades, Analysis for Bruins

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UCLA vs. Virginia: Game Grades, Analysis for Bruins
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Quarterback Brett Hundley versus the Cavaliers

Yikes. 

UCLA was favored by three touchdowns heading into this contest. Not very many people expected Virginia to remain competitive throughout the game. 

The No. 7 Bruins narrowly eked out a victory by a score of 28-20. It was a shockingly abysmal effort by UCLA's offense. 

Projected Heisman contender Brett Hundley finished Saturday 20-of-33 for 242 yards. The offensive line was truly putrid. Without starting center Jake Brendel, the unit was in shambles for the duration of the afternoon.

Not only did the group have problems picking up Virginia's blitz scheme, but Hundley was constantly having to keep his eyes on the pressure rather than down the field. 

The expectations are incredibly high for this team. If UCLA had a collective "big head" heading into the year, this effort may have brought the team back down to earth. 

Final stats from the game can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com.

Check out our first-half and final grades for the Bruins. Additional analysis for different position units will also be addressed. 

UCLA Bruins Game Grades
Position Unit First-Half Grade Final Grade
Pass Offense D C-
Run Offense F C-
Pass Defense B+ B-
Run Defense A A
Special Teams B C
Coaching C C-

Aug. 30 at Virginia

 

UCLA Bruins Game Analysis

Pass Offense: Hundley did finish with 242 yards but was pestered all afternoon by the UVA pass rush. He finished with only 98 yards in the first half. The constant pressure forced him to keep his eyes on the oncoming rushers as opposed to down the field. 

There were a few very bad drops on the afternoon, namely by Thomas Duarte and Steven Manfro. Jordan Payton led the unit with eight receptions for 98 yards.

 

Run Offense: The offensive line was absolutely atrocious early in the game. The loss of Jake Brendel at center forced Scott Quessenberry into action. He and true freshman NaJee Toran were manhandled physically. Quessenberry also had problems making the correct calls at the line. UCLA had 24 yards on 13 carries in the first half. 

To be fair, UCLA did run the ball better in the second half. The zone read (which was strangely missing in the first stanza) was used liberally. It appears as if Paul Perkins should be the starter in the backfield. He led the Bruins with 80 yards rushing on 16 carries. 

 

Pass Defense: UCLA's secondary was beaten twice on long touchdown throws. Vaunted corner Fabian Moreau failed to turn his head for one of the scores, and Priest Willis wasn't able to stay with UVA receiver Darius Jennings on a fade pattern. 

On multiple occasions, Virginia found success in the soft parts of UCLA's zone. This was particularly the case on third-down chances. Safety Randall Goforth and corner Ishmael Adams performed very well. Adams had an interception return for a touchdown. Goforth also scooped up a fumble and ran 75 yards for the score. 

On the day, Virginia's quarterbacks combined for 266 yards passing and two touchdowns. 

 

Run Defense: The defensive line lived up to its billing and played very well. On the day, Virginia tailbacks accrued a 3.1 yards-per-carry average. Kenny Clark was very effective inside stuffing the run. Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Deon Hollins also were explosive off of the edge. 

The defensive line's pressure led to rash decisions by starting quarterback Greyson Lambert. The interception returns for touchdowns by both Adams and Eric Kendricks directly came off of pressure by "Owa" and Hollins

 

Special Teams: Junior kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a very manageable field goal early in the contest. His lack of consistency has to be a worrying sign. New punter Matt Mengel flashed a big leg at times but lacked touch. He needs to work on pinning the opposition against its own goal line as opposed to booming punts into the end zone. 

On a 4th-and-1 play deep in Virginia territory, UCLA opted to bypass the field-goal attempt. Ultimately, the team was unable to convert. This decision could be telling as to the lack of confidence Jim Mora has in his kicker.

Ishmael Adams did return a punt for a touchdown. Unfortunately for UCLA, a bizarre helmet penalty on Willis negated the score. Willis' helmet came off during the play. As opposed to essentially running off of the field, he put his helmet back on and continued to play (which seems like the natural thing to do). 

Adams' prowess in the return game is something to watch going forward. He's incredibly dynamic in this capacity. 

 

Coaching: Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone called a very strange game. It could have been a case of UCLA being rather vanilla in the hopes of not showing anyone anything. However, his calls for the most part were uninspired runs into a defense crowding the box. It definitely was not his best showing. 

This game also marked the first in which Jeff Ulbrich acted as the defensive coordinator. There were some instances in which he didn't bring pressure on third-down situations. For the most part, he did call a solid game. This is obviously evidenced by his defense scoring three touchdowns on the afternoon. 

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