UCLA v. Oregon: Bruin report card

Quarterback: B-

If not for the fourth quarter, this grade would have been much lower. Redshirt junior Brett Hundley was ineffective through the air for most of the day, throwing for just 97 yards through the first three quarters. But his performances on the ground and in the fourth quarter allowed UCLA to save some face.

After struggling to scramble against Utah last week, Hundley excelled in that area against Oregon. He ran for 89 yards, including a hard-fought lunge into the end zone at the end of the first half. Hundley would have had an extra 24 yards on his stat line if not for a costly fumble that sent the ball sailing backwards and was counted as a sack and negative rushing yards.

In the fourth quarter, Hundley’s finally found his receivers in space. He had 119 of his 216 passing yards in that quarter alone, finding junior wide receiver Jordan Payton twice for touchdowns, mounting a mini-comeback. But ultimately, UCLA’s inability to throw for the first three quarters dug them too deep into a hole.

Running backs: A

Redshirt sophomore Paul Perkins continues to be one of the lone bright spots for UCLA in its two consecutive losses. Perkins ran for a career-high 190 yards against Oregon, averaging 8.6 yards per carry. With the Bruins struggling to throw, Perkins’ – and Hundley’s – runs provided the sole reliable offense for UCLA.

Beyond Perkins, freshman Nate Starks showed more flashes, running for a late touchdown and bowling over Oregon defenders in the first half for an impressive 19-yard carry in which he dragged several Ducks for five yards before going down.

Sophomore Myles Jack came in for a short spell in the first half and provided some energy for the running game, carrying three times for 14 yards on a drive to get UCLA in scoring range. But the linebacker was pulled from the game at that point, too tired too keep going on offense, and UCLA was unable to get the ball into the end zone on that drive.

Wide receivers: C

Hundley had plenty of time in the pocket, but had few options downfield to throw to throughout the game. The result was a series of effective scrambles from Hundley; but without the pass game working, UCLA became very one-dimensional – and ineffective – on offense.

The receivers, like Hundley, finally made plays in the fourth quarter, with Payton twice pulling down touchdowns and freshman Mossi Johnson making several nice plays. But it came too late for the Bruins.

Offensive line: B+

This was a bounce-back performance that the O-line badly needed. After allowing 10 sacks a week ago, the Bruins surrendered just two to Oregon. The line also opened up running lanes for Perkins and Hundley, allowing them to be effective on the ground.

In the fourth quarter, starting left tackle Malcolm Bunche, a redshirt senior, was replaced by redshirt sophomore Conor McDermott, who played well enough. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said he wasn’t sure if Bunche was injured or if offensive line coach Adrian Klemm just wanted to mix things up. Either way, Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction for UCLA.

Defensive line: C-

The defensive line didn’t have its best performance of the year. Against an Oregon offensive line that had been struggling nearly as much as UCLA’s, the Bruins still recorded zero sacks and just four tackles for losses – all but four of Oregon’s plays were neutral or positive.

Granted, Oregon did get its starting left tackle Jake Fisher back, and he helped the group, but UCLA still needs to do a better job of getting pressure on quarterbacks, especially considering the Bruins spoke all week about the importance of pressuring Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Ducks also ran for 258 yards (6.3 yards per carry) as the defensive line was unable to stop plays at the line and struggled with containment again.

Linebackers: C

Redshirt senior inside linebacker Eric Kendricks led UCLA in tackles, yet again, with 10 and Jack, after a quiet few weeks, also played well with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass break up.

However, like the defensive line, the unit still allowed 258 rushing yards and sophomore outside linebacker Deon Hollins wasn’t able to sack Mariota, though he did pressure him into a throw-away in the first quarter.

Secondary: B

UCLA held Mariota to 210 yards passing on 17 of 27, but the Ducks seemed more focused on running the ball than passing. Neither of Mariota’s two passing touchdowns came with defensive backs matched up on the receivers. Jack was beat in coverage on one touchdown and the second came on a screen pass.

The secondary also did well limiting big plays from the Ducks. Oregon’s longest play was 31 yards, but the Ducks didn’t have any huge breakaway touchdowns that they’ve been known for in the past.

Special teams: D

Junior kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed another field goal, this time from 41 yards, and junior punter Matt Mengel shanked one of his punts.

Junior kick returner Ishmael Adams – usually electric – chose to return too many kicks from deep in his own end zone instead of taking a knee. The result was a lot of poor starting field positions for the Bruins; Adams averaged just 15 yards on his kick returns.

Coaching: C-

The struggles of UCLA’s coaches were on display for all to see when television cameras caught defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich going off on a tirade against coach Jim Mora.

His frustration was understandable given how UCLA was unable to make adjustments to stop Oregon from moving the ball and scoring at will.

Offensively, Mazzone added several wrinkles to the playbook including a heavy package featuring additional offensive linemen, a flea flicker, a wide receiver pass and a shovel pass reverse. The net gain for all these plays amounted to maybe 20 yards, however.

UCLA also attempted two field goals against an Oregon team known for putting tons of points on the board. The Bruins needed to be more aggressive – especially on fourth-and-shorts – to have had a chance to keep up with the Ducks.

Compiled by Kevin Bowman, Bruin Sports senior staff.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2014/10/11/ucla-v-oregon-bruin-report-card/
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