Bruins make an impression, and it isn’t good
The sights and sounds at the Rose Bowl Saturday night.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel up on the big screen, telling the few remaining Bruins fans, “I promise you, we won’t give up … “
Stanford tackle Derek Hall, almost skipping to the locker room, telling teammates, “Man, we sacked L.A.”
Of the two, one can be taken as fact.
By the time Stanford finished off a 35-0 victory over the Bruins in a Pacific 10 Conference opener, it seemed clear that there was trouble in Westwood.
A week ago, it was the Bruins’ defense that was run over in a 31-22 loss to Kansas State. This week, the Bruins offense dissolved before a hopeful UCLA crowd that was sent fleeing into the night wondering what had happened to that “momentum” Neuheisel said the program had built last season.
Stanford (2-0 overall, 1-0 in conference) was far from perfect, but miles ahead of the Bruins (0-2, 0-1).
“Tonight was an offensive disaster,” Neuheisel said. “There is no other way to say it. We look in the mirror, accept that and fix it.”
Neuheisel admitted, “That’s easy to say.”
Stanford has no such overhaul ahead of it. Quarterback Andrew Luck was so-so but he threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 63 yards.
The Bruins, who yielded 313 yards rushing in the season opener at Kansas State, gave up another 211 on the ground Saturday.
Stanford ended a seven-game losing streak at the Rose Bowl — six losses to the Bruins one to Wisconsin.
Luck put together a nine-minute drive in the third quarter, which ended in a one-yard run by Owen Marecic for a 21-0 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Yet, defensive concerns were not rolling off UCLA tongues after the game. The only thing under the gun in the Bruins “pistol” offense was its quarterback.
Kevin Prince, bother by a sore shoulder all week, completed six of 12 passes for 39 yards before being yanked in favor of Richard Brehaut late in the third quarter. Brehaut wasn’t much better, completing five of nine passes for 42 yards.
The Bruins offense did put points on the board … for Stanford. Safety Michael Thomas wrenched the ball from quarterback Kevin Prince’s hands and high-stepped 21 yards into to end zone for a 28-0 lead with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said he would have to review the tape, but his quick assessment was, “It’s never one guy’s fault.”
Prince’s assessment was harsher.
Asked if his sore shoulder was the reason he left the game, Prince said, “that and I stunk. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.”
UCLA’s offense piled mistake upon mistake, with penalties that took the Bruins out of the red zone, as well as the turnovers and a one-for-nine effort on third downs.
There was the offense.
— A holding penalty by wide receiver Ricky Marvray erased Johnathan Franklin’s 20-yard third-down run to the Stanford 15-yard line. Prince was then sacked on third down, taking the Bruins out of field goal range.
— A false start by guard Eddie Williams on first down at the Stanford 24 was followed by a sack. Prince then put a pass up for grabs that was intercepted by Stanford’s Richard Sherman at the goal line.
— Prince’s handoff to Thomas, which ended the evening for the Bruins’ quarterback.
The so-close-but-so-far away moments were, “more frustrating than you can imagine,” Neuheisel said.
Whether that will prompt a quarterback change, Neuheisel said, “We don’t like making those kind of comments right after a game.”
Even after one in which Stanford held the ball for 36 minutes 51 seconds. A week ago, Kansas State had the ball for 35 minutes.
“We have been a more efficient running team,” Neuheisel said. “But somewhere in that, we lost ability to throw the ball.”
‘We got to address what’s ailing us,” Neuheisel said.