Every UCLA football Saturday, whether at the Rose Bowl or on the road, has so much more to it than a win or a loss. That’s why each postgame Monday, the Daily Bruin will break down the Bruins’ most recent game, outlining the good, the bad and the verdict for their performance.
This week, we take a closer look at UCLA’s 24-10 loss to Stanford on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
The Good: First-Half Defense
The Bruins bent but never gave up the big play in the first half, holding Stanford to just three points. In its first six drives of the game, the Cardinal managed just a field goal.
With less than a minute before halftime, however, Stanford was once again within striking distance. The Cardinal had already called nine plays in a drive that started on their own 11, and probably needed just a completion to get a nice, easy first-and-goal.
While Devon Cajuste got his hands on the ball around the 6-yard line, sophomore corner Ishmael Adams got his hands around the ball quicker and came up with his third interception of the year, neutralizing Stanford’s last remaining offensive threat of the half.
UCLA also allowed just one non-turnover induced touchdown in the second half, but the sheer total of three allowed makes the performance less impressive. While the Bruins had their success against a moderately strong Stanford offense, their test Saturday will be even more formidable as they take on the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us, as I’m sure you’ll all point out, but it’s a great challenge,” said coach Jim Mora of his defense’s efforts. “Those men in there are great competitors.”
The Bad: Offensive Struggles
The Bruins were able to take away one potential Cardinal touchdown with a well-timed interception but gave up two interceptions of their own, the second coming with just 2:40 left in the game, striking a dagger into UCLA’s hopes of potentially remaining undefeated.
Just a week after redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns, he had his worst passing performance of the season, registering 15 incompletions and throwing for under 200 yards for the first time all season.
Hundley totaled 27 yards on the ground, but Stanford’s four sacks against him actually placed the redshirt sophomore in second for UCLA’s nightly rushing total, three net yards behind senior Malcolm Jones, who until the end of fall camp was a walk-on. Redshirt freshman running back Paul Perkins, who ran for over 100 yards combined against Cal and Utah last week, was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on three separate occasions, his longest carry of the afternoon going for 5 yards.
Offensively, the Bruins were hampered in particular by the loss of two left tackles in rapid-fire succession – sophomore Simon Goines and redshirt freshman Conor McDermott – a situation that made UCLA predictable and one dimensional on offense.
“I don’t know if it hurts Brett as much as it hurts a young O-line,” said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone of the injuries. “Now these guys are just pinning their ears back and they’re coming at you. They don’t have to respect the run game.”
The Verdict: Poll Slip
Just a day after their 24-10 dud, the No. 12 Bruins dropped three spots from their No. 9 ranking heading into Saturday. The AP voters act quickly, something the Bruins simply could not do for the entirety of the game.
They found themselves within striking distance late, with three separate opportunities to tie the game at 17 apiece, but the Bruins just could not find a way to advance the ball downfield, producing two punts and an interception in their final three drives.
It was rather telling that UCLA came away with its first loss of the season Saturday, particularly given its scoring differential against Stanford early in the second half. Through the Bruins’ first five games of the season, UCLA outscored opponents 71-0 in the third quarter. On Saturday, Stanford broke that trend in a big way, outscoring UCLA 14-3 in the third frame alone.
No. 2 Oregon on the road will be yet another tremendous test for this UCLA team, but one that will understandably come with fewer expectations of a victory.
Player of the Game: Randall Goforth, Safety (So.)
While it’s difficult to crown a Player of the Game for the Bruins this week, Goforth stands above all the others purely because of his prolific tackling performance on Saturday.
The sophomore recorded two solo tackles and assisted on 17 more for a total of 19. Fellow safety, redshirt junior Anthony Jefferson, wasn’t far behind with 14 total.
The two safeties have done a good job over the last few weeks of preventing the big play. Against Stanford, it was more of the same. Cardinal junior quarterback Kevin Hogan’s longest pass of the afternoon was 34 yards and no single Stanford rush went for more than 16 yards.
For the duo, this week was just a warm-up to what will be a tremendous challenge in having to attempt to contain Oregon redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota and junior all-purpose athlete De’Anthony Thomas.
Quote of the Week: Anthony Barr, OLB (Sr.)
“We’re not a team that loses football games. We’re a tough team, and we’ll try to show that next week. “
Compiled by Andrew Erickson, Bruin Sports senior staff