Each week, Daily Bruin Sports takes a look at the game film for UCLA football and grades each position group on its performance.
This week, we grade UCLA’s 44-23 loss to Washington.
All the talk after the game revolved around the severity of junior quarterback Josh Rosen’s injury.
The nation’s sixth-leading passer exited the game when the Bruins were down 11 points, with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter. Coach Jim Mora stated Rosen was suffering from “multiple things going on.”
That being said, there wasn’t much the potential No. 1 overall pick of next year’s draft left on tape for this game. Rosen was a pedestrian 12-of-21 for 93 yards passing and a touchdown toss before exiting the game.
It’s tough to say that he would’ve exploded in the second half, as he was sacked four times in just the first half.
Still, Rosen’s sole touchdown pass was a beauty. He got the ball through a tight window, threading the pass between two defenders in this throw to redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Wilson.
Watch the bullet below.
Now enter Devon Modster, a redshirt freshman who had attempted just three passes this season. Asking him to try and bring the Bruins back from an 11-point deficit with two and a half quarters of football to go is a seemingly unfair task. Washington was a playoff team last year and was 6-1 with a No. 12 ranking heading into this game.
So his performance was graded based on the raging fire he was thrown into. With that in mind, he didn’t do too badly. Modster finished the game 7-of-12 for 77 yards passing and a touchdown. The redshirt freshman commanded an impressive 11-play, 81-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Here’s his four-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior Darren Andrews.
Modster is likely to be the incumbent for quarterback should Rosen declare for the draft at the conclusion of the season. Although there’s not much to take from this game, he still managed to get the Bruins on the scoreboard and average 11 yards per completion.
Rosen’s status for Friday’s matchup against Utah is still not clear, so expect the redshirt freshman to be a possibility for now.
Running backs: C-
The coaching staff split carries among three backs, yet none received more than nine attempts. Junior tailback Soso Jamabo had nine carries for 28 yards, junior running back Bolu Olorunfunmi had five carries for 26 yards and sophomore running back Brandon Stephens had seven carries for just 18 yards.
With only 21 carries among three running backs, there wasn’t much this group could do for themselves. Washington scored 27 unanswered points starting in the second quarter when UCLA was only down by one point. This led to a pass-heavy attack – even after Rosen went down and Modster came in.
The Huskies’ defensive line was stout all game long, and proved to be difficult for the Bruin rushing attack. The longest run in the game ended up being for just 11 yards. Add in Modster and Rosen’s rushing attempts and the Bruins averaged a meager 2.2 yards a carry, earning them a barely passing grade.
Wide receivers: C-
Again, with a new quarterback inserted in the middle of the third quarter, everything about the offense went into a funk.
Andrews led all receivers with 73 yards on eight receptions and a touchdown in the fourth. Wilson looked to be making strides as this was the second game in a row he notched four receptions on at least nine yards a catch, finishing this game with 38 yards. Redshirt junior Christian Pabico followed with three receptions for just 36 yards.
Dropped passes plagued the group early on and also preventer the unit from creating a chemistry with Modster late in the game. The wide receiver need to make sure to get on par with whichever quarterback they’re practicing with this week before their matchup in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Offensive line: F
It’s tough to give out such harsh grades to the same group week in and week out, but honestly there’s no other option considering its performance.
With the four sacks they gave up this game, this unit has allowed an embarrassing 11 sacks in the last three games.
The first sack came on literally the first offensive play of the game for the Bruins. Redshirt sophomore Andre James, No. 75, got blown past by Husky defensive lineman Greg Gaines. Rosen had no chance on the play.
The second sack came at the hands of a combination of missed assignments. Washington’s Ryan Bowman – wearing No. 55 – rushed the edge as an outside linebacker, the assignment of the most exterior lineman: in this case left tackle and redshirt junior Kolton Miller, wearing No. 77.
However, Bowman used a swim inside to avert Miller, allowing three-technique lineman Vita Vea to confuse senior left guard Najee Toran and blow past the both of them for a quick sack. Check out the clip below.
Both of these sacks came in the same drive, which ended in a field goal for the Bruins. The third sack of the game came with two and a half minutes left in the first half from a missed block from Wilson.
Tight ends are responsible for pass protection in plays like this one, and it’s clear that Wilson loses his grasp on Vea, leading to a sack by Washington’s Benning Potoa’e. To be fair, Rosen held on to the ball way too long in that play, but Wilson still needed to at least get two hands on the pass rusher.
The final sack of the game came just one play later and again came from multiple missed blocks. Redshirt freshman Michael Alves got bull rushed from the snap by Vea. Jamabo failed to pick up defensive back Austin Joyner, who took Rosen’s blind side for a sack.
The number of sacks doesn’t do it justice either, as Rosen was being hit all game. The Huskies also mustered six tackles for loss.
In Rosen’s last play of the game, he was hit just after throwing the ball, ultimately leading to a bleeding laceration on his hand.
UCLA should consider rotating in some newer faces into the lineup with such poor performances. Redshirt freshman Paco Perez and freshman Stephen Zabie were both highly touted recruits who have yet to see significant playing time, or any at all this season.
Defensive line: D-
As expected, Washington came out with the Myles Gaskin show, with the junior going off for 169 yards on 6.26 yards per carry and a touchdown.
He ran outside, inside, out of the power – there was essentially nothing the Bruins could do to stop him. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Ainuu Taua saw more playing time with the absence of senior defensive lineman Matt Dickerson.
He, along with defensive linemen sophomore Boss Tagaloa, redshirt freshman Osa Odighizuwa and redshirt sophomore Chigozie Nnoruka was dominated by the Husky offensive line for the entirety of the game. Senior Jacob Tuioti-Mariner also looked to still be affected by his injury last game as he was ineffective as well, despite being a consistent pass rusher for the Bruins all season.
Watch the line give up a 37-yard run on the outside to Gaskin in the clip below.
The defense also gave up six yards per carry to two other Husky running backs – Lavon Coleman and Salvon Ahmed. Coleman was just six yards shy of 100 on the ground and even added 46 yards through the air, on top of his three rushing touchdowns. For some reason, the Bruins’ front seven is just prone to big plays.
Husky coach Chris Petersen’s offense rushed the ball 58 times for 333 yards broke out for up multiple plays of over 20 yards or more, including runs over 30 yard by three different running backs. Watch the gaping hole the offensive line creates for Coleman on this 33-yard touchdown rush for the Huskies.
The defense did manage a meaningless touchdown late in the fourth quarter, as freshman defensive lineman Greg Rogers infiltrated the backfield and forced a fumble on Kamari Pleasant, leading to a scoop and score by Odighizuwa. All in all, this group has some serious changes that need to be made.
On a positive note, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Marcus Moore has seen increased playing time throughout the season, and was a pleasant surprise Saturday, finishing the game with six tackles – two and a half for loss.
It’s pretty rare that the linebackers can have a good game when the defensive line plays so poorly. Linebackers senior Kenny Young, sophomore Krys Barnes and redshirt sophomore Keisean Lucier-South combined for 24 tackles and two tackles for loss, but quite honestly, they were just as lost as the front four.
The Huskies used a variety of ways to run the ball, including a double handoff that led to a 34-yard rush by the Husky third-string running back Ahmed.
Watch Young and Barnes misread the toss and Lucier-South get laid out, leading to the big run by Ahmed.
The same thing happens in the play below, on Gaskin’s six-yard touchdown run. All three linebackers get bullied at the second level causing a lane inside the middle for Gaskin.
The crew also did poorly in 4-2-5 situations, often having lapses in coverage of the flats. At one point, quarterback Jake Browning dumped off the ball to Coleman, but a missed tackle by Barnes causing a short screen pass to turn into a 35-yard pass play.
Defensive backs: C+
Browning had a quiet day as he only attempted 11 passes, completing eight of them for 98 yards and one interception. That turnover came at the hands of freshman defensive back Darnay Holmes, who made a spectacular play on the ball on a pass intended to Gaskin.
Watch him come out of nowhere in the play below, extending for the catch.
However, besides this, the defensive backs were not too impressive. They gave up five passes of over 10 yards and missed some tackles on busted runs by the front seven. Because of their low volume of work against the Huskies, they get a passing grade for this week.
Special teams: F
Special teams were absolutely terrible this game.
Sophomore kicker JJ Molson missed an extra point that started the firing of 27 unanswered points by the Huskies. He did manage a 42-yard field goal, but the missed points after touchdown are killer.
The real reason why the special teams failed this week was return coverage. Ahmed managed a staggering 161 yards on just four kick returns. His 82-yard return early in the second quarter was momentum shifting.
By giving the Huskies such good field position to start all their offensive drives, the special teams definitely played a part in allowing the Huskies to score so easily and frequently. Washington’s Dante Pettis also averaged 11 yards a return on five punt returns.
Redshirt junior Stefan Flintoft had eight punts with an average of 43.1 yards and a long of 54. Holmes averaged just under 23 yards a return on five kickoff returns for the Bruins, and no punts were taken back for UCLA.