UCLA should be relegated after losing what was considered a crucial game in the Pac-12 South Division against Arizona State.
The Bruins (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) continued to allow a series of “self-inflicted wounds” to get the best of them, including skipping penalties and big pass plays.
“We played uphill football in the second half,” said UCLA coach Chip Kelly. “It was a direct result of what we did. It’s from wounds we inflicted on us and we have to clean it.”
Kelly understands that in order to compete with some of the better teams in the conference, “SIW” cannot continue.
“The penalty kicks you back, and then all of a sudden you’re playing for a really long time,” Kelly said. “We made it more difficult on ourselves. That’s the difference between the two halves.”
The Bruins were called for catches on three separate occasions, with left tackle Shaun Ryan being called for two of them. The Bruins were also fined two personal fouls and one non-playing un-playing conduct during the game.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson agreed the penalty was costly, as the Bruins failed to score in the second half for the first time since the 2019 season against Utah.
“We shot ourselves twice in the foot,” Thompson-Robinson said. “I have to go back and watch the movie and all that to give me a clear idea.”
The Sun Devils kept the game close with the Bruins, giving them a par score in the first half. With Game 17 tied, UCLA scored a field goal to take the lead by 3 points.
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels would respond, completing a long pass for a 54-yard touchdown to Ricky Pearsall, defeating UCLA defensive back Elisha Guidry in coverage, to take a 24-20 lead after PAT. ASU did not give up and took the lead for the rest of the game.
Daniels and Pearsall were also linked by a screen pass that resulted in a 65-yard touchdown on the previous offensive drive.
“I think the explosive play on the defensive side of the ball really hurts us with those two big long passes,” Kelly said. “We had some depth issues in security. (Arizona State) did a good job of taking advantage of that by taking advantage of that. So you have to give them credit.”
Safety Kenny Churchwell III tried to play early in the game but an undisclosed injury ruled him out for most of the game. Quentin Lake was credited for his effort in Saturday’s game by Kelly to start the safety, who told reporters during a postgame press conference that Lake was not 100% healthy.
Lake was injured against Fresno State and did not play on the road at Stanford. Churchwell was filled during the lake’s absence.
Defensive back Mo Osling III also missed the game against the Sun Devils with an undisclosed injury.
The Bruins have allowed two touchdown passes for 44 or more yards in three of the last four games. Like ASU, Stanford scored a pair of long touchdowns (for 56-yard and 52-yard runs) on back-to-back offensive drives.
“We have to be responsible at every level of the ball,” said linebacker Jordan Jenmark Heath. “When we build pressure and send seven instead of eight, we have to go home.
“We keep our defensive backs in a position of compromise. As you know, it is difficult to cover especially good receivers when it comes to open ground. We just have to do our bit in every field.”
Arizona State had two other long passes of 47-yards and 48-yards, which resulted in the first down.
The Bruins will prepare for another late kickoff time this Saturday, traveling to play Arizona (7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN).