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UCLA's Darren Andrews turns a negative into a positive

UCLA's Darren Andrews turns a negative into a positive
Bruins receiver Darren Andrews heads toward the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown pass play against BYU on Sept. 17. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Darren Andrews rose to his feet after a long reception in the first quarter. His arm outstretched, he clutched the ball in his hand before releasing it to taunt the defender he had just beaten.

A drop was once again an issue for a UCLA receiver.

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This time it was intentionally letting go rather than holding on that was the problem. Andrews' unsportsmanlike conduct penalty forced the Bruins to give back nearly half of the 35 yards he had gained on the play Saturday night against Brigham Young, prompting UCLA Coach Jim Mora to briefly bench the receiver.

"It was a good call by the officials," Mora said after the Bruins' 17-14 victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium. "I mean, he dropped the ball in the guy's face, and you can't do that."

Mora said he yanked Andrews to let him regain his composure. Coaches then challenged Andrews to make something happen that didn't entail lost yardage, and he complied.

Andrews caught a pass from quarterback Josh Rosen on a shallow crossing route midway through the third quarter, picked up a block from receiver Kenneth Walker III and turned the play into a 33-yard touchdown that gave the Bruins a 17-0 lead. It was the Bruins' first score in the third quarter this season.

Afterward, Andrews spent as much time addressing his penalty as his big play, calling the infraction "selfish on my part." It was his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in as many weeks.

"I have to make sure that it doesn't happen again," said Andrews, who finished the game with four catches for 91 yards. "I'm a passionate player, a very energized player when I'm out there on the field, so my thing is when I make a play, that defense is going to feel my energy. But I have to learn how to control that now and that's two flags on me, so I can't do that anymore. I'm just going to hand the ball right back to the ref."

Going deep

A trend has emerged among UCLA's receivers: There are lots and lots of them.

Twelve players caught passes against BYU, which was two fewer than the previous week against Nevada Las Vegas.

Is the glut of pass catchers a sign of a quality receiving corps or merely one without any standouts? Mora seemed to think it was the former.

'It excites me," Mora said. " …  It shows me how much depth we have, how much talent we have, how great a job Josh does of spreading the ball around. No, it doesn't concern me. Shoot, I mean, that fires me up. That's awesome.

"You talk about being able to run guys out there and not lose a step, we're able to do that right now with that receiving corps, so I'm really excited about that."

The new math

Finally, there were some numbers worth remembering for the Bruins defense.

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It held BYU to 23 yards rushing, the lowest amount by a UCLA opponent since Arizona State managed only 21 yards in 2008. The Bruins sacked quarterback Taysom Hill four times, the primary reason he finished with minus-seven yards rushing in 10 carries. Cougars tailback Jamaal Williams was also neutralized, gaining 28 yards in 14 carries.

Collectively, BYU's rushers averaged 0.9 yards a carry.

"I love that," Bruins defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes said. "Now it's not, 'Oh, the D-line gave up 200 yards, the D-line did this, the D-line did that,' so it's nice when we're finally all healthy playing together, executing and playing at a high level."

UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said much of the improvement resulted from Mora making the defense run plays over as many as four times in practice during the week to get every detail right. It also helped that the Bruins had linebacker Jayon Brown shadowing Hill during the game.

"We put a lot of emphasis this week on our rush lanes and what we call putting dots on the quarterback and not giving him escape routes," Mora said. "We felt it was imperative that we not let the quarterback get out and go with his legs."

Twitter: @latbbolch

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