Instant Reactions from The Coach and The Don: UCLA Crashes Back to Earth

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The Coach

The first quarter was a nice back and forth defensive display from the Bruins and Utes. UCLA was down 7-3 and a couple of turnovers from each team at the beginning of the second quarter led to a missed UCLA field goal. A long 10-play drive from Utah ended with a Zack Moss touchdown run and an extension of the lead to 14-3. UCLA answered with a nice drive of their own but on the 3rd and 10 from the 12-yard line, Dorian Thompson-Robinson lost the ball while being sacked and the Utah defense scoop and scored. The flood gates opened after this.

UCLA took a huge step back during the final three-quarters of play in Salt Lake City. DTR fumbled twice in the red zone and threw an interception late in the game. Demetric Felton also fumbled in the red zone. Three turnovers in the red zone are inexcusable. Especially in a big game that you need to win in order to get into a conference championship.

While the 49-3 loss stings and it happened on primetime television, it proves that while UCLA has taken big steps in improving as a program, there are still miles to go before they are legit Pac 12 competitors. Utah is one of the best teams in the entire country but UCLA didn’t help themselves.

With each rep, DTR will improve but Dana Bible HAS to somehow get his quarterback to protect the ball. Too many times this season have we seen DTR lose the ball while under pressure. He tries to do too much at times and hurts his team more often than he helps them. For that to still be happening 10 games into the season is something Coach Bible must address and work with him on.

Yes, UCLA got a big reality check Saturday but it’s hopefully just a minor setback on their climb to the top.

The Don

This just in, Utah is a really good and sound football program. Simply put, Utah was the much better team on Saturday night, but the 49-3 score may not have been indicative of the actual game.

UCLA was able to move the ball, and competed well, but was not able to get the job done in the red zone. Not one, not two, but three red zone turnovers killed the Bruins, as one was returned the other way for a Utah touchdown. You cannot beat bad teams if you lose the turnover battle, and you certainly won’t beat a Top 10 team doing that.

DTR showed flashes of his brilliance but then he regressed to his old self and carelessness with the football. Two interceptions, two fumbles, and huge losses from sacks are just unacceptable at this level. I know that DTR is a playmaker, but there are times where he simply tries to do too much and it ends up hurting the team even more.

One play, in particular, the Bruins snapped the ball from the 15 yard-line, pressure comes up the middle, and DTR scrambles all the way back to the 30 yard-line and then literally just drops the ball. Utah scoops it up and runs it all the way back for a touchdown. At the very worst, he should have taken the sack at the 20 yard-line and regrouped.

These types of plays happened often throughout the game and are why it ended in a blowout.

It sounds crazy, but I think UCLA is still heading in the right direction, but they have to play smart, sound football against the good teams if they want to climb their way up the PAC-12 ladder. They simply did not do this on Saturday.