This post was updated Oct. 27 at 12:07 a.m.
Friday was a step back for UCLA in every facet of the game.
The Bruins (2-6, 2-3 Pac-12) only managed 291 total yards and gave up 325 yards on the ground. They lost the turnover battle and committed several costly penalties.
The result was a 41-10 shellacking at the hands of the Utah Utes (6-2, 4-2) on Friday night.
“I don’t think we tackled very well on the defensive side of the ball, and I think the penalties on special teams came in and hurt us in the first half,” coach Chip Kelly said. “We didn’t tackle well in the first half and we didn’t tackle in the second half.”
Even UCLA’s normally stout special teams units weren’t immune – four of its five penalties came on special teams.
Redshirt junior cornerback Colin Samuel committed kick catch interference on the Bruins’ first punt of the night. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Chigozie Nnoruka committed a false start on a field goal attempt right before halftime, and junior kicker JJ Molson missed the ensuing 52-yarder short.
“That’s just a flinch up front, knock us back 5 yards and then we’re short probably by about 2 or 3 yards,” Kelly said. “(I’m) confident that (Molson) can knock that in from where we were, he’s been really accurate for us and he’s been really good for us. But good teams don’t do that, and we’re hurting ourselves right now and we have to stop doing that.”
The Bruins also had no answer for either wide receiver Britain Covey or running back Zack Moss.
Covey caught five passes for 47 yards and also threw a 7-yard touchdown on a reverse pass. He also recorded two 30-plus-yard punt returns, both of which led to scoring drives.
Moss romped for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, a year after running for 153 yards and two touchdowns against the Bruins.
“He was really good at running his feet on first contact,” redshirt junior inside linebacker Tyree Thompson said. “We just have to be better at coming together as a group, getting those tackles, so he doesn’t get 3 to 4 extra yards every carry.”
UCLA led 7-3 at one point but allowed 28 unanswered points – Utah put the game on ice by scoring on its first four drives of the second half.
On the other hand, the Bruins’ opening possession of the third quarter ended when graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight threw a ball right at Utah linebacker Cody Barton, who made the easy interception.
The Utes then ran the ball four straight times for another touchdown.
Speight struggled in his second start for UCLA, only completing 20-of-40 passes for 164 yards and two interceptions.
But his receivers dropped multiple passes, including a sure touchdown that redshirt sophomore Demetric Felton let bounce off his hands.
“It just kind of felt like one play after another, a couple plays added up and it just didn’t really feel like our night,” Speight said. “It just seemed like the cohesion wasn’t really there and it wasn’t really adding up at the same play the same time consistently throughout the night.”
Redshirt junior running back Joshua Kelley failed to crack 100 yards for the first time in five games, finishing with 90 yards on 16 carries. He added a 25-yard touchdown run on a 4th-and-1 play in the first quarter.