Cal vs. UCLA: 10 Things We Learned from the Bruins' Win
UCLA knocked off Cal 37-10 to improve to 5-0 on the season. It was a convincing victory against a lesser opponent, especially with so many other ranked teams struggling to escape with a win this week.
A few Bruins played well, including a quarterback who set a new career high in passing yards. However, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. There were a few parts of the game that raised red flags and there are a couple of areas that can be tweaked.
Overall, we learned that the sky isn't falling on Cal and UCLA needs to be taken a lot more seriously.
UCLA's Defense Is Scary Good
Cal's offense didn't help itself, but give it up for UCLA's defense. The Bears came into this game with the fifth-best passing offense in the country and has more than enough weapons to score more than 10 points.
Instead, the Bruins bullied a young offensive line, were constantly in the face of quarterback Jared Goff and managed to force two turnovers. It's a lot more than Anthony Barr. This entire unit flies to the ball, tackles as a group and is looking to drop the hammer when given the opportunity.
UCLA has a nice combination of speed and physicality on this side of the ball, and it seems to be coming together as the season plays out.
Watch out, Pac-12.
Paul Perkins Is an Intriguing Backup...
Paul Perkins started the game in place of an injured Jordon James, who is still nursing a bad ankle. While Perkins didn't light up the stat sheet with only 37 rushing yards on 14 carries, he did a nice job of catching the ball out of the backfield and did score a touchdown in the second quarter.
Perkins had a great game against Utah a couple of weeks ago and was able to build on that in this game with the most rushing success of any other Bruin.
Once James comes back, it's going to be interesting to see how the coaching staff splits the carries between two talented runners. Perkins should no longer be the afterthought on the bench he was in the beginning of the season.
But There Needs to Be More Consistency on the Ground
Come on, man!
UCLA was going up against one of the worst defenses in the country. Cal was ranked 125th in points allowed and gave up 5.41 yards per carry on the ground. As a team, the Bruins ran for 68 yards on 32 carries.
That's simply unacceptable.
The offensive line couldn't create running lanes and the backs missed the hole when there was one. The longest run of the night was 11 yards by Malcolm Jones. While this area is likely to improve, it is a little concerning with Stanford on deck next week. The Cardinal have a wonderful run-stuffing defense.
Cal's Defense Isn't THAT Bad
Heading into this matchup, California's defense was pinned as one of the worst in college football. It couldn't stop a nose bleed and UCLA was going to drop 60 points in an effortless win.
Not so fast.
The Bears played inspired football defensively and made the Bruins earn everything they got. The defensive line generated decent pressure and even helped force a few three-and-outs. While Hundley had a field day throwing the ball, Cal stepped up when it counted and forced UCLA to settle for field goals in the red zone.
Cal played well enough defensively to win this game. Although it was in a losing effort, this program can build on that moving forward.
Jared Goff Has a Bright Future...
I don't care what the box score says. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he threw for only 218 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception.
Just watch the kid on tape and you'll see that Cal hit a home run with his ability. He has above-average arm strength, puts the ball only where his receivers can get it and has a beautiful throwing motion. He's one of the few players you watch and instantly know he is going to become a special player in due time.
So he made a couple of bad decisions. He's still a true freshman! Don't give up just yet Cal fans, the future is mighty bright, especially at quarterback.
But the Coaching Staff Doesn't Help
Cal fans had to be frustrated with their offense in this game. There was a screen pass called every other play. If it wasn't a screen that resulted in no gain, it was a run behind an offensive line that couldn't move out of its own way. When it wasn't those two plays, Cal would settle for a two-yard pass over the middle.
Yes, Jared Goff is still a young quarterback and the offensive line is beyond brutal. But you're 1-5 and not going to a bowl game this season. Why not let the kid make plays and take a few chances? If it doesn't pan out, you lose. You were going to lose anyway. If he makes a few plays, Cal may actually have a chance to win some of these games.
Goff is extremely talented. It's time to open up the playbook and let him work.
There's No Confidence in the Cal RBs
Another way Cal can take some of the pressure off its young quarterback is by getting the running game going. The Bears rushed for 104 yards, and the majority of that yardage came in garbage minutes when the game had already been decided.
There was less than 30 rushing yards in the first half.
At one point, Jacob Wark received a handoff, and even wide receiver Richard Rodgers ran the ball six times. Yeah, it's safe to say the coaching staff has reached the boiling point and is willing to try anything to get the ground game going.
The sooner the Bears can improve in this area, the better off they'll be in the winning department.
UCLA Is Still a Sloppy Team
UCLA came into the game averaging 10.8 penalties per game.
Against Cal, the Bruins were flagged eight times for 53 yards in the first half. They finished the game with nine penalties for 63 yards. The good news is that the second half was much cleaner, the bad news is that it's still nine penalties! Most of those flags were pre-snap penalties. Those shouldn't be happening when you're the home team.
If UCLA hopes to truly take that next step and begin competing with Oregon and company, it must stop shooting itself in the foot.
Brett Hundley Deserves Heisman Consideration
While he likely won't win the award, Brett Hundley at least needs to be mentioned with some of the top candidates.
What does anybody have over him?
UCLA is undefeated. His team is soon to enter the top 10. He makes plays both in the air and on the ground. He just set a new career high with 422 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Hundley is playing solid football and seems to be getting better as the weeks go by. He may not have the eye-popping statistics as some of the other candidates, but he's playing extremely well for a sophomore and making sure his team finds a way to win.
That's what it's all about.
UCLA Is Now a Dark-Horse Championship Contender
Too soon? Don't be silly.
Although young, UCLA has enough pieces to make a run for both the conference title and national championship. Defense? Check. Elite quarterback? Check. Balanced offense? Check.
The Bruins will enter the Top 10 of the new AP Poll and should be the second-highest ranked Pac-12 team besides Oregon. With a ridiculously talented team and upcoming matchups against Stanford and Oregon, UCLA controls its own destiny and can seriously enter the talks for a crystal football with a couple more wins.
Some may think it's a little premature, but the talent is here. It shouldn't be considered farfetched for UCLA fans to start dreaming and getting their hopes up just a little bit.