Bruins’ slow-down approach ruffle Ducks’ feathers

UCLA defensive back Colin Samuel (10) makes a beat on the ball for an interception during the Bruins' 31-14 win against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

PASADENA CA-At first, it looked liked the UCLA Bruins were going to run away from the Oregon Ducks in their Pac-12 Conference showdown at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Then it looked liked it was going to be one of those games where the last team with the ball will prevail.

The Bruins opted to run away from the Ducks, using a spot-on running game and timely passing to pull away from Oregon in the second half with a convincing 31-14 win.The easy part is now done for head coach Jim Mora and his Bruins. The next four games for the Bruins will test UCLA. The Bruins go on the road for the next two weeks against Washington and Utah before hosting a tough Arizona State squad.

UCLA’s Darren Andrews (7) looks for running room against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

That’s not to mention the Bruins’ annual city dance with the USC Trojans on Nov. 18. After going through a warm-up act through the first seven games of the season, the Bruins are now in the teeth of their schedule. For now, though, the victory against a wounded Oregon team, is a big win for the Bruins.

The final outcome of the game really doesn’t reflect how tough the Ducks made it for UCLA. Oregon had the ball longer and ran more plays than the Bruins. After being bottled up in a 14-14 at halftime, UCLA used a 17-0 second half blitz to take control of the game.

Oregon running back Royce Freeman (21) picked up 160 yards rushing the football against UCLA in the Bruins’ 31-14 victory at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Opportunistic plays and a strong rushing attack that picked up for 142 yards on the ground, proved to be the Ducks undoing. Oregon rushed for 246 yards, but had nothing going in the passing game, accumulating the ball for just 74 yards through the air. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen didn’t have his best game of the season, passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, completing 21 of 36 pass attempts.

Those numbers for Rosen would be a lot of different if he had a little bit more help from his talented wide receiver corps, which dropped several passes. Nevertheless, the Bruins won the ballgame, despite a lackluster total domination of their Pac-12 Conference North Division opponent.

UCLA wide receiver Christian Pabico (17) snags a pass from quarterback Josh Rosen as two Oregon defenders converge to make the tackle during the Bruins’ 31-14 win at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Judging by what transpired in the first quarter when the Bruins jumped out to an immediate 14-0 lead, this contest had the markings of an early breeze for UCLA. Rosen’s 31-yard passing score to Christian Pabico late in the first quarter gave UCLA a two-touchdown lead. Oregon then pumped the brakes on what was headed to be a Bruins’ scoring onslaught.

Oregon quarterback Braxton Burnmeister called his number twice in the second quarter to help the Ducks even the score at intermission. The Bruins then changed the narrative the last two quarters, opting to go with a methodical gameplan in the second half to offset the Ducks brutal rushing attack, led by running back Royce Freeman, who ran for 160 yards on 29 carries.

UCLA used both Soso Jamabo (15 carries, 66 yards, TD) and Bolu Olorunfunmi (13 carries, 76 yards, TD) as workhorses to offset what the Ducks was doing on the ground. The Bruins’ run game also effectively took time off the clock, which made it more difficult for Oregon to generate any type of come-from-behind passing game since its offensive concept is based solely on running the football.

Olorunfunmi’s 22-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Rosen’s 1-yard toss to Darren Andrews in the final period capped off the Bruins win.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1151 Articles

Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.