Sunday, September 20, 2009

Winning Ugly

It wasn't pretty but the Bruins walked out of the Rose Bowl on Saturday with a win. It wasn't anything to write home about, but UCLA is off to it's first 3-0 start since the 2005 season.

So, Kevin Craft played the entire game. With a better supporting cast around him this season, Craft rarely had to go running for his life like he did on almost every snap last year.

In the first quarter, Kevin looked down right composed. He stood tall in the pocket, connecting on the vast majority of his passes, and he had plenty of time to find the open receiver. Franklin and the running game also took pressure of the senior signal caller, as they ran through massive holes in the line.

However, Craft also slipped into the inconsistent, poor decision making play that plagued him last season. The offense as a whole struggled through most of the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Settling for field goals and 3-and-outs. A big 51-yard TD pass to Austin, on broken coverage, ended the drought and put the game into the win column.

The defense also had up-and-down moments.

They were aggressive and attacked the ball most of the night. ATV came up with two interceptions and the Bruins forced a number of fumbles, though they didn't recover any of them.

The third quarter, however, saw the defense struggle to contain the Wildcat's read option running attack. K-State put together a massive, 14 play, 8 minute drive that resulted in a touchdown.

Eventually, the Bruin defense found it's grove again in the 4th quarter as the Wild Cats were forced to pass the ball to catch up.

The real story of the night, however, was penalties.

There were mind numbing amounts of penalties last night. UCLA was fortunate to be playing an inferior opponent, because those penalties would have easily cost the game against an Oregon, Cal, or USC.

For the third consecutive week, the defense kept crucial drives alive by committing untimely penalties.

Unfortunately, the offense joined the party as well. They replaced big gains and a touchdown pass with little yellow flags. It got so bad at one point, that it seemed like every other play ended with flags being thrown.

The team ended the game with 8 penalties for 80 yards. Which brings the total this season to 22 penalties for a whopping 208 yards. Compare that to 12 penalties and 99 yards for our opponents.

Coach Neuheisel and his staff will have to work on that during the bye week.

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