Saturday, September 3, 2011
Grades: UCLA vs Houston
By Peter Yoon
The Bruins fell behind early and needed to pass the ball -- and in a complete turnaround from last season, they weren't lost. Richard Brehaut had 264 yards and two touchdowns passing in relief of injured Kevin Prince and the Bruins finished with 322 yards through the air -- more than they had in any game last season. Only a couple of drops by the receivers keeps it from an A.
Johnathan Franklin did what he does, tallying 128 yards in 16 carries for his eighth career 100-yard game. Quarterback Richard Brehaut also got in on the act with 87 yards, dispelling the myth that he is not a good runner. The Bruins played from behind in this game and needed to pass, but you have to guess UCLA could have dominated with its running game if it had gotten a lead.
IN THE TRENCHES
The offensive line did not allow a sack and Houston's defensive linemen got very little pressure on UCLA's quarterbacks during the game. In the run game, the UCLA linemen opened big holes. The UCLA defensive line, a strength of the team, was flustered by Houston's quick-strike game plan and despite Houston's 40 pass attempts, they only got one sack.
It got pretty ugly on the defensive side in the first half as Houston took a 31-14 lead and gained an average of seven yards a play. Missed tackles were a major culprit, and an inability to cover Houston's underneath receivers was another. Second-half adjustments helped and Houston had only 173 total yards in the second half, but when your offense scores 34 points, you should win the game.
Kip Smith's missed 32-yard field goal and a blocked extra point in a four-point loss are all you really need to know about how important Kai Forbath was to this team the last four years. Punter Jeff Locke was solid with a 42-yard average on punts and three kickoffs into the end zone. Josh Smith had a nice kickoff return.
It got pretty messy on defense in the first half as Houston befuddled UCLA, which looked unprepared. Defensive coordinator Joe Tresey made the halftime adjustment, but it was too little too late. The offensive game plan worked well as UCLA found all the holes in the Houston defense. Game management got a little dicey at the end, though, and UCLA had to burn an unnecessary time out.