UCLA-Cal: Bruin Defense Wilts in Heat, 45-26

Derek HartCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2009

In the face of 90 degree temperatures at the Rose Bowl, UCLA fans were expecting an improved performance from their football team in their battle with the California Golden Bears.

The Bruins themselves expected things to get better.

Instead, they got worse: Cal 45, UCLA 26.

UCLA's run defense was the main culprit of this latest debacle, as they gave up 289 yards and two long touchdowns on the ground in front of a sweltering crowd of 67,317.

The Bruins failed to contain not one but two Bear running backs; Jahvid Best, a key focus for the Bruin defense, ran for 102 yards on 18 carries, which included a 93-yard run to the end zone in the second quarter that put Cal up 28-14. 

To add insult to injury, Best also caught a 51-yard pass for a score.

As well as Best did, Shane Vereen was even better against UCLA: 154 yards on just 17 carries, with a 42-yard touchdown run of his own.

The plan to make Bear quarterback Kevin Riley beat the Bruins with his arm blew up in their face, as he looked like both Peyton and Eli Manning combined in throwing for 305 yards and three scores.

UCLA's offense did do some good things, as Johnathan Franklin ran for a 73-yard touchdown in the first half that brought the Bruins to within seven points. He ended with 101 yards on 11 carries for the day.

Kai Forbath kicked four field goals, solidifying his All-American hopes and his space as a Bruin bright spot.

And Kevin Prince threw for 311 yards, but made a fatal error with 5:05 left in the game when Mychal Kendricks, who ran his mouth in guaranteeing a Cal victory before the game, intercepted a pass and ran it back 68 yards for the Bears' final TD.

That was the second game in a row that Prince has thrown a pick-six.

As for the Bruins' defense, their recent failures to stop the run have been baffling...

Here is a unit that was projected to be a strength for UCLA, featuring a stud defensive lineman in Brian Price who will soon be playing on Sundays, and a pair of Bosworths—Kyle at right end and Korey at linebacker—whose uncle is none other than "The Boz," former Oklahoma legend Brian Bosworth.

There's also a middle linebacker in Reggie Carter who's the heart, soul, and leader of that Bruin defense, and two standout defensive backs, one who is an All-American in Alterraun Verner, and the other, Rahim Moore, who leads the nation in interceptions.

With all that talent, one must question why they've been having so much trouble stopping opponents on the ground.

It's clear that for the last three games, UCLA's execution and performance in their rushing defense has not matched the talent level of their personnel.

I honestly don't know why that has been so; if anyone has any opinions, I would be happy to hear them.

The way things have been going for the Bruins, a 4-8 record is no longer out of the question.

It hurts to write that, but it's also the truth.

At the halfway point of the season, for the 3-3 Bruins (0-3 in Pac-10 play) to save their aspirations, an immediate turnaround in their run defense is imperative.

Otherwise another season full of hopes for the Bruin Nation will go down in flames once again.


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