UCLA 42, Colorado 14

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September 29th – Boulder          UCLA 42, Colorado 14

UCLA, behind a balanced offense which went for over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing, slowly … but surely … pulled away from Colorado, posting a 42-14 victory in Boulder. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, as the Bruins won for the first time in Boulder since 1984.  

In a game in which Colorado needed to control the clock, the game started out poorly for the Buff offense. A three-and-out by gave UCLA the ball at the Bruin 41 yard line. The UCLA offense had little difficulty at first, but two penalties nullified big gains, keeping the Bruins at bay. Then, at the CU 33-yard line, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked by Buff defensive tackle Kirk Poston, fumbling the ball back to the Buffs in the process.

A nine-yard pass to Tony Jones and a 15-yard run by Christian Powell set the Buffs up at the UCLA 22-yard line. Aspirations of an upset were quelled quickly, though, as on an end around Gerald Thomas fumbled. The Buffs recovered the ball, but only after a loss of 11 yards, and the drive was over.

UCLA was not to be denied in its second drive. Converting on second-and-one three times, the Bruins never faced a third down in putting together a nine-play, 88-yard drive. Quarterback Brett Hundley did the honors from 12 yards out, and, with 4:54 to go in the first quarter, UCLA was ahead to stay, 7-0.

Two three-and-outs by the Buffs, sandwiched around a three-and-out by the Bruins, finished out the first quarter with the Buffs only down a score … a small victory for a team which had trailed UCLA 21-0 after the first quarter in Los Angeles the week before.

The second quarter opened with the Bruins piecing a ten-play, 88-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hundley to Darius Bell. The Parent’s Weekend crowd shifted restlessly as the “been there, done that” look to the game crept into the Buff Nation consciousness.

Then, hope arrived.

Quarterback Jordan Webb, who had completed only 34 passes to his wide receivers in the first four games of the season, finally made some connections. Three completions to Tyler McCulloch, and two more to Nelson Spruce, moved Colorado into the red zone. On first-and-ten at the UCLA 17-yard line, Webb connected with Dustin Ebner for a Buff touchdown. The senior’s second catch of the season was also his first ever touchdown as a Buff, cutting the UCLA lead to 14-7 with 8:18 to play before halftime.

The Colorado defense forced a punt in UCLA’s next possession, and it appeared, ever so briefly, that the Buffs would give the Bruins a game.

Instead of taking advantage of the momentum, the Colorado offense instead went three-and-out, with Darragh O’Neill’s punt being returned 20 yards deep into Colorado territory. It took the Bruins only five plays to restore order, with Brett Hundley connecting with Johnathan Franklin for 28 yards to the one yard line, with Hundley sneaking the ball in from there.

Both teams had two possessions in the final two minutes of the half, but produced no excitement. The Buffs finished the first half with seven offensive drives, three which went three-and-out.

Still, it wasn’t yet a blowout.

Halftime score: UCLA 21, Colorado 7.

The Colorado defense, despite having no help from the Colorado offense, continued to play hard early in the third quarter. The UCLA offense went three-and-out twice, and, on the second drive of the third quarter, the Buff offense began to click for only the second time in the game.

The Buffs opened with a 19-yard pass from Webb to Tyler McCulloch, followed by consecutive runs of seven and eight yards by running back Tony Jones. A nine-yard run by Jones pushed the ball into UCLA territory. It was a two score game, but the Buffs had the ball and some momentum.

Then, the play of the game …

After a Tony Jones run went nowhere, the Buffs faced a fourth-and-one at the UCLA 48-yard line. After some confusion, the Buffs snapped the ball just before the play clock expired. Colorado was guilty of a double shift on the play, but it made no difference, as the Jones run lost yardage.

Colorado had not only lost possession, the Buffs lost momentum … for the remainder of the game.

UCLA’s next drive stalled, and a 44-yard field goal attempt by Ka’imi Fairbairn was pushed wide right. Still, the Buffs could not take advantage. A 23-yard completion to freshman tight end Vincent Hobbs was fumbled, returning the ball back to the Bruins.

This time, UCLA did not fail to take advantage of good field position. The Bruins covered 62 yards in seven plays, with Hundley hitting tight end Joseph Fauria, nephew of former CU great Christian Fauria, for an eight yard touchdowna and a 28-7 lead.

Instead of rallying, as had been the case in Pullman the week before, the Buffs instead reverted to more familiar form. A fumble on the previous possession was followed on the Buffs’ next possession by an interception, giving the ball to the Bruins at the CU 35-yard line.

With no help in sight from their offensive teammates, the Colorado defense finally succumbed. It took the Bruins only four plays to score, with running back Jordan James doing the honors with a 25-yard run to open the fourth quarter.

Yet another three-and-out by the Colorado offense was met with an eight-play, 84-yard drive in which the only third down was erased by a roughing the passer penalty. Damien Thigpen got into the scoring column with a 23-yard score, and the game was officially a rout, 42-7, with 10:54 still to play in the game.

In garbage time, Colorado, behind quarterback Nick Hirschman, picked up a consolation score. Freshman running back Donta Abron, who had only six carries on the season coming in, had five carries for 34 yards in pushing the ball into UCLA territory. Hirschman then connected on the first touchdown pass of his CU career, a 31-yarder to tight end Nick Kasa, to close out the scoring with 2:43 to play.

Final score: UCLA 42, Colorado 14.

The scoreboard was – sadly for Buff fans – symmetrical. UCLA’s scoring by quarters went 7-14-7-14, while Colorado’s went 0-7-0-7. The Bruins out-gained the Buffs, 492 yards to 309. Colorado mustered only 14 first downs, and only 83 yards rushing on 30 carries.

The stat which told it all … Colorado was 2-of-15 on third down conversions.

Quarterback Jordan Webb, while being sacked four more times, went 21-of-32 for only 184 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. The Buffs did hold Bruin running back Johnathan Franklin under his 145 yard average, but Franklin did still post 111 yards on only 15 carries.

“We are, we’re growing up, we don’ have a lot to show for it, but we have taken strides,” said Jon Embree on whether the Buffs were learning to compete. “You know, there were tears in the locker room, and guys still care and are still competing and fighting. At times, were just over matched, but we have to find a way to create some plays or create something to help us. That is why (avoiding) turnovers are so critical for us, we need to move the ball. We are not at that point where we can overcome mistakes like that.”

Game Notes –

– UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria scored against the Buffs, joining his uncle, Christain Fauria, who played tight end at CU, as family members who scored touchdowns in a Colorado game. The Faurias joined the Irwins (Hale and Heath) and the Andersons (Bobby and Blake) who are known to have scored a touchdown at Folsom Field.

– Tyler McCulloch’s seven catches against UCLA represented a new career high. With 29 career catches, McCulloch moved into the top 100 on the all-time receiving list.

– Senior wide receiver Dustin Ebner had his fifth career catch against UCLA, with his 18-yard score the first touchdown of his career.

– Sophomore quarterback Nick Hirschman had his first career touchdown pass, connecting with tight end Nick Kasa in the fourth quarter.

– Red-shirt freshman Stephane Nembot, recruited as a defensive lineman (like Nick Kasa), made his first career start … at right tackle.

Injury Report

The only new injuries listed out of the UCLA game were to running back Christian Powell (hip bruise) and linebacker Jon Major (lower leg contusion). Neither was  expected to miss the Buffs’ next game.

2 Responses to “UCLA 42, Colorado 14”

  1. Chuck

    I also find the tackling issue at the college level interesting. Some of the teams that do it well are the service academies (Navy etc), which makes me feel that it can be taught at the college level. Not having the best athletes, they try to compete by stressing sound fundamentals.

    I would like to know how much time CU spends on learning how to tackle.

    Former CU linebacker Jordan Dizon closed quickly on a runner. CU’s tacklers today seem to wait for the runner to approach them and then are a bit too far away to bring a runner down.

    Oregon State played well against UCLA’s passes to the side by simply doing a good job tackling in the open field.

  2. I have never played football and feel ignorant about the fine points of the game.
    I do have a serious question. Is it possible to still teach tackling at the college level? These kids have been playing football for years and I am certain that they were all instructed as to proper tackling techniques. If you still can’t tackle at this level – and this has been one of our greatest faults this season – can it still be learned or is this the best you will ever be able to do? I would appreciate some info about this.

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