UCLA controls game in win over Oregon: 3 things we learned

Bolu Olorunfunmi-UCLA-Oregon

It is unlikely that at any point during UCLA’s 31-14 victory over the Oregon Ducks on Saturday that Bruins fans were able to sit back and relax as they watched their team control, from start to finish, an entire football game. It’s simply not the way the season has gone for the Bruins.

But in all reality, with the rare consistency being shown by the defense and the balanced performance from the offense, UCLA faithful could have, for once, enjoyed watching a football game. There are plenty of caveats, sure — Oregon was operating with a quarterback who burned his red shirt, the Ducks had scored 17 combined points in the two weeks prior — but caveats don’t much matter. What matters is the ‘W’.

Three things we learned from that ‘W’:

Introducing… Christian Pabico!

Christian Pabico is not a household name in Los Angeles. Prior to Saturday, he had caught just five balls all year. His season-high was 47 yards.

And then, late in the first quarter, quarterback Josh Rosen found Pabico for a 31-yard score that extended the Bruins’ lead to 14-0.

That was far from all. Pabico was Rosen’s primary target on Saturday, hauling in a 49-yard catch that set up Bolu Olorunfunmi’s insane, vault-style touchdown that would push UCLA’s lead to 24-14.

It is, of course, far too small a sample size to label Pabico as Rosen’s new favorite target. But with a litany of injuries depleting the Bruins’ roster, Rosen does, at the very least, have a reliable new weapon.

UCLA running game is alas establishing itself

There is only one way to begin this section, and that is with Olorunfunmi. His acrobatic touchdown run was aesthetically pleasing, to be sure, but just the fact that he was in the end zone again said enough. Almost since the day Rosen arrived on campus, UCLA’s offense has been almost exclusively run through its passing game. Sometimes this works. Since Paul Perkins graduated, it mostly hasn’t.

But the past two weeks, the Bruins’ rushing offense, which ranked 103rd in the nation prior to the win on Saturday, has seen something of a resurgence.

In an ugly loss to Arizona a week ago, the silver lining was the running game, which piled up four touchdowns, two of which came thanks to Olorunfunmi, who also added 102 yards on 10 carries. With the passing game still not performing to Bruin fans’ admittedly outlandish expectations — Rosen finished with 266 yards and 2 touchdowns on Saturday — it was Olorunfunmi and the backfield who controlled the game.

UCLA’s rushing defense showed up

A week ago, after watching Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate run for 230 yards and two scores, while the rest of the Wildcats piled on 227 more, UCLA coach Jim Mora told reporters: “It kills me. It rips my guts out. It’s awful. It’s awful. But that being said, as awful as it is, you can’t mope around. You still have to bring energy and leadership and juice and you have to give them answers.”

It seems that, for the week, UCLA had its answers. Oregon running back Royce Freeman broke LaMichael James’ school record for yards in a career, but he did so after the game was in hand. Duck quarterback Braxton Burmeister ran for two touchdowns in the first half, but Oregon didn’t manage a single point in the second half. It was refreshing for the Bruins, who have been burned by mobile quarterbacks on multiple occasions this season.

That trend came to an end this week.

The post UCLA controls game in win over Oregon: 3 things we learned appeared first on Diehards.

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