UCLA: Zach Maynard

Penalties finally bite UCLA in loss to Cal

October, 7, 2012
Penalties have officially become a problem for UCLA.

The Bruins racked up 12 penalties for 99 yards during their 43-17 loss at California on Saturday and now lead the nation in both number of penalties (53) and yards penalized (519).

UCLA has lingered near the tops of those lists for most of the season, but before Saturday it hadn't really been an issue because the Bruins were winning in spite of them. Against Oregon State, UCLA's only other loss, the Bruins had season lows of seven penalties and 56 yard penalized.

But Saturday, penalties became an issue on both sides of the ball, helping to extend California drives and serving to stop UCLA drives on offense. Coach Jim Mora said he knew a reduction in penalties would be needed at Cal and so it was more disappointing that the numbers stayed high.

"It wasn't really a concern to me until (Saturday) night," Mora said. "The reason it became a concern was because we put an emphasis on it."

The Bruins committed two personal fouls, a facemask, an illegal block and three defensive offsides Saturday, and several were critical.

In the third quarter, Cassius Marsh jumped offsides on a third-and-2 play and gave Cal a first down. A sack on the next play set up a second-and-21, but a facemask by Aaron Hester gave Cal another first down. Two plays later, Zach Maynard hit Keenan Allen for a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Golden Bears a 29-14 lead.

With about nine minutes left to play and UCLA trailing 29-17, quarterback Brett Hundley completed a pass to Johnathan Franklin to the California 8-yard line, but a holding call wiped it out. Instead of knocking on the door for a touchdown that would have gotten the Bruins to within five points, they faced a second-and-16.

Two plays later, Cal defensive back Michael Lowe intercepted a Hundley pass and returned it 57 yards to set up the game-sealing score. But it wasn't the timing of the penalties that had Mora as concerned as the nature of them, he said.

"If we have a hold or a facemask, first of all, are we up against a guy that maybe we're overmatched?," Mora said. "If that's not the case then are we not doing things technique-wise to get ourselves in position to avoid the penalty?

"I felt like some of the penalties that we had ... we just weren't using the appropriate technique that we should use to get ourselves in position to not have to hold and not have to grab a facemask or not have to reach out and trip somebody or something like that."

The solution? Better coaching.

"It's just something we've got to continue to stress and we will continue to stress," Mora said.

Grades: California 43, UCLA 17

October, 6, 2012
UCLA dropped its seventh consecutive game at California, extending a losing streak that is now 14 years, when they fell to the Golden Bears, 43-17, Saturday in Berkeley. Here's how we have them grading out:

Brett Hundley was constantly under pressure and was sacked five times. He had a season-high four passes intercepted and was inaccurate on downfield passes for most of the game. He completed 31 of 47 passes but had only 253 yards -- only 5.38 yards per pass play.

Johnathan Franklin had 103 yards rushing for his fifth 100-yard performance on six games, but the Bruins had only 129 yards on the ground. Hundley was fairly effective when he escaped the pocket, but Jordon James and Damien Thigpen combined for only 19 yards.

California quarterback Zach Maynard tied career highs with 25 completions and four touchdowns and had 295 yards through the air -- the second-highest total of his career. Before Saturday, he had only five touchdowns this season. The Bruins sacked him three times, but that is two fewer than the five per game Cal had allowed before Saturday.

Until a 68-yard run by C.J. Anderson late in the game, the Bruins had been solid against the run. Cal finished with 186 yards rushing and averaged 4.4 yards per carry, but before that late Anderson run, with the game out of hand, Cal was averaging less than three yards a carry. The Bruins also forced two fumbles.

Steven Manfro muffed a punt when Kenny Orjioke ran into him when Manfro was trying to make a fair catch, the second time that has happened to the Bruins this season. Ka'imi Fairbairn was 1-for-2 on field-goal attempts and punter Jeff Locke had a solid game. Two blocked extra-point attempts against Cal save the grade here.

The Bruins showed a lack of focus and discipline in committing 12 penalties for 99 yards -- several at crucial times. The offensive play calling showed reluctance to go downfield and UCLA gave up on the run too early. The team seemed to lose its fight late when the score got out of control.

First look: California at UCLA

October, 25, 2011
Another week, another top-notch pass offense standing in UCLA's way.

So far this season, UCLA has faced four of the top-20 passing offenses in the nation and gets a fifth Saturday when California visits the Rose Bowl for a 4 p.m. Pac-12 game.

That means that if UCLA is going to get its season back on track, the Bruins will have to find a way to contain California quarterback Zach Maynard and receiver Keenan Allen, who lead a Golden Bears offense that ranks No. 19 in the nation with 293 yards passing per game.

CalUCLAAnd not only that, but the short-handed Bruins must also figure out a way to decipher a California defense that is fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense and leads the conference in pass defense.

"We’ve got our work cut out for us," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.

Allen, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore, is among the top receivers in the nation. A freshman All-American last season, he leads the country this season with 129.43 yards receiving per game and is eighth with 60 receptions. Maynard doesn't quite fit into the elite group of quarterback UCLA has faced this season, but he is improving in his first year as a starter and has passed for 1,840 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Last year when these teams met, Cal dominated with a running attack that gained 304 yards rushing in a 35-7 Golden Bears victory. Shane Vereen led that charge with 151 yards. Vereen is now with the New England Patriots, but Isi Sofele, who gained 80 yards in 13 carries in last year's game, is back and is having a strong season. He's averaging 89.57 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-12.

The Bruins are No. 106 in the nation in total defense, giving up 436.14 yards per game, so facing such a balanced offense could lead to more problems, but it's the other side of the ball that has Neuheisel most concerned.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, brother of UCLA linebacker Eric, is among the top defensive players in the conference, if not the country. He is third in the conference with eight tackles per game and is a key reason why Cal gives up only 115 yards rushing per game.

"They've got, in my mind, the best defensive player in the conference in Mychal Kendricks," Neuheisel said. "I think he is spectacular football player."

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